Slow Food comes closer to home  with


Featuring a public talk by Novella Carpenter,

author of Farm City.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


This year, Slow Food Seacoast’s popular Thanksgiving event comes closer to home. This update to the  “100-Mile Thanksgiving” of past years reflects our community’s progress in developing more of our own local food resources. In recognition of these positive changes, this year’s holiday celebration of regional foods is titled “50-Mile Thanksgiving: Closer to Home.”

The event takes place at South Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Portsmouth,  and is cosponsored by Slow Food Seacoast and the Churcn’s Green Sanctuary Team, with support from RiverRun Bookstore. This year the event takes an exciting new format, featuring a 7:00 PM talk on urban farming by Novella Carpenter, author of the book “Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.”

Carpenter, the self-described “child of back-to-the-land hippies,” grew up in rural Idaho and Washington State. After majoring in English and Biology at Washington State University, she studied under Michael Pollan at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. “Farm City,” her 2009 memoir, chronicles her experience running an urban subsistence farm in the city of West Oakland, CA, only yards from the interstate highway. On a 4500-square-foot vacant lot next to her apartment building, she raised chickens, ducks, rabbits, turkeys, pigs, and produce, and even hanging her own proscuitto to cure in her apartment. Carpenter’s account describes the way she integrated rural knowhow with more familiar elements of life in a modern American city life, including downtown nightlife and socializing as well as encounters with local homeless people and street-corner drug dealers. “When you have a rural process going on in the city, it opens up all these different things to happen,” Carpenter told the Boston Globe in an interview. “It brings you into a different relationship with your neighborhood.”
After her talk, Carpenter will be available to answer questions and sign books. RiverRun Bookstore will have her book available for sale. The talk is open to the public, and in lieu of admission Slow Food Seacoast asks attendees to bring a food donation for the (H)EAT campaign, which works to provide food and heating oil for people in need across the Seacoast area.
Before the talk, Slow Food Seacoast will also offer an optional Thanksgiving potluck dinner in South Church’s downstairs gathering hall. Guests are invited to bring a seasonal dish to share that features at least one item grown or sourced from within 50 miles of their home. The dinner will include resources for doing your own urban or suburban ‘farming’ and an opportunity to learn about and share homegrown food.

This local Thanksgiving celebration, now in its fourth year, was originally inspired by the writings of Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, a Canadian couple who challenged themselves to spend a year living on just the ingredients available from within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, BC. Through chronicles on their website “The 100-Mile Diet,” they struck a deep chord, inspiring thousands of individuals and communities  to try their own local eating challenges. Here in the Portsmouth area, Seacoast Eat Local took up the charge by promoting Eat Local Challenges in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and this year Gov. Lynch and the State of New Hampshire declared August of 2009 NH Eat Local Month, indicating the growing power and reach of the idea of sourcing food closer to home. Slow Food Seacoast adopted the idea for its first large public event, holding its inaugural Thanksgiving in November, 2006.
“We’ve done our 100-mile Thanksgiving event for the past three years, and it’s always a wonderful culmination of the summer’s bounty,” says Amy Pollard, volunteer Outreach Coordinator for Slow Food Seacoast. “It’s a very tangible reminder of all that we have to be thankful for living in our magnificent Seacoast area and for the farms that are still thriving here.  And this year’s event will be even better as we shrink our food gathering boundaries by half and have the wonderful addition of Novella Carpenter to speak about farming in our cities.”


Admission to the 5 PM potluck supper is $10 per person, kids under 12 free. Potluck seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis; Reservations are required. Please make your reservation at

Thanks to our Partners:

The Green Sanctuary Team of South Church ( is dedicated to enhancing environmental awareness and practices within South Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Portsmouth and the wider community. In 2009, the Team has chosen “Food” as its theme, and conducted activities including selling fair trade and environmentally responsible Equal Exchange coffee and tea, hosting  “Menu for the Future” programs, presenting an Earth Day service with a sermon on “The Soul of Agriculture” by UNH professor John Carroll and collecting 350 cans of soup for the Seacoast Family Food Pantry of NH in honor of the International Day of Climate Action(

RiverRun Bookstore ( is an independent bookstore in Portsmouth, NH, known for its community partnerships and lively schedule of events. The booksellers of RiverRun have participated in many Slow Food Seacoast events, including Food Writers’ Night, author talks, and previous Thanksgiving events.