Kristin Kimball was a Harvard-educated writer thoroughly entrenched in her East Village life when she had an epiphany while on a farm in Pennsylvania. Researching for a writing assignment, Kimball had gone to the farm to interview a farmer named Mark, and before she knew what was happening, she was put to work. The work she did that day changed her and made her realize that she wanted a home, one that she did not have in the city. Within a few months of her farm visit, Kimball began a relationship with Mark and left the city to start a farm with him. Kimball’s book, The Dirty Life, chronicles the first year of their lives on Essex Farm in upstate New York.
Recently there’s been no shortage of memoirs written by first-generation farmers seeking a more sustainable, back-to-the-earth lifestyle—believe me, I know, I’ve tried to read them all. The Dirty Life stands heads above many of the others I’ve read, mainly due to Kimball’s storytelling abilities and the uniqueness of Essex Farm. Kimball exposes both the brutal, unforgiving work a farm requires, along with Mother Nature’s willingness to take as quickly as she gives; but she is passionate about the work and about the farm she helped create, and that passion translates into a very good read.
The Dirty Life