For the past couple of months, we’ve been participating in Essex Farm’s innovative CSA experiment: Essex will deliver as much of their offerings as we order each week for a fixed fee (and our agreement to sign up for the year). Their mandate: to provide our WHOLE diet: vegetables, grain, dairy, and grass fed meats and poultry, so much so that we hardly shop at the grocery store anymore.

Essex’s food is so sublime, and the feeling that accompanies it so generous, that we wonder if the farm five hours north of New York City is an American Findhorn, the Scottish eco spiritual community started in the 60’s that was said to grow astonishing vegetables and plants that defied their surroundings.

Curious about its origins, we’ve been reading The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love, ex-journalist/city girl Kristin Kimball’s tale of her unexpected transformation into a farmer and partner of Mark Kimball, whose vision drove Essex from the start. He is a man after our own hearts (and hers, after some wild adventures)…

When we would talk about our future in private, I would ask Mark if he really thought we had a chance. Of course we had a chance, he’d say, and anyway, it didn’t matter if this venture failed. In his view, we were already a success, because we were doing something hard and it was something that mattered to us. You don’t measure things like that with words like success or failure, he said. Satisfaction comes from trying hard things and then going on to the next hard thing, regardless of the outcome. What mattered was whether or not you were moving in a direction you thought was right. This sounded extremely fishy to me. 


Dirty Life Farm Experiment Cover

It’s a wonderful, compelling read in part for the beautifully written descriptions of Kimball’s radical and completely unexpected shift of lifestyle and direction.

Our favorite bit of wisdom:

He (Mark) had recently turned against the word SHOULD, and doing so had made him a happier person.

New Yorker’s interested in joining Essex’s unique and life-changing CSA, read more here, then contact Essex directly for NYC-specific details, by calling (518) 963-4613 or via email: [email protected]

If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

One thought on “An Innovative Farm Experiment + ‘The Dirty Life’

  1. Essex Farm really opened my thinking about organics. Most organic farms, I realized, use tractors to harvest. This blows exhaust fumes directly into the soil and the crops. Essex uses horses. Huge difference. The taste of their food is indescribable. Just…sublime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *