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Department of English, NTNU


This essay examines Novella Carpenter’s Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (2009) and Dickson Despommier’s The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century (2010), two best-selling urban farming narratives published in the 2010s when coverage of the Anthropocene had heated up in the European and American media.As responses to current environmental conditions, urban farming literature such as Farm City and The Vertical Farm, as Anthropocene narratives, occupy powerful positions in configurations of the history and future of the Earth. While Anthropocene narratives often adopt an apocalyptic tone, are intimately tied to issues of climate change, and warn of the planet’s bleak prospects, Farm City and The Vertical Farm present a brighter vision wherein human agency is redeemed as the driving force behind environmental reform and celebrate stewardship and technological innovation. Calling attention to cities and farming, urban farming intervenes into apocalyptic Anthropocene visions by suggesting an agrarianism that celebrates small family farming and an ethic of interconnectedness, on the one hand, and vertical farming and techno-scientific stewardship, on the other, as alternatives to a history of loss and recovery. The currency of urban farming brings to the fore an Anthropocene future wherein cities and farming are redeemed from their villainous status and conceptualized as human-created geological forces embodying an ideal of human-nonhuman interdependence.