The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

The Dirty Life

By Kristin Kimball

The Dirty Life has been described as a “tender,” “beguiling,” and “candid chronicle” of the author’s love affair with the man who becomes her husband and the farm they work together to restore. Kristin Kimball describes how she abandoned her career and rent-controlled apartment in New York City for the Essex Farm. With wisdom and humor Kristin describes their plan to grow everything needed to feed a community—beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, grains, fruits, and forty different vegetables—with all the work done by draft horses instead of tractors. The author’s vivid descriptions of the farm, food, and dirt make for a fun and irresistible read.

About the Author

Kristin was born in 1971, and grew up in central New York. She graduated from Harvard in 1994, then moved to New York City, where she worked at a literary agency, taught creative writing, and freelanced for magazines and travel guides. Kristin has written for O Magazine, Vogue, Gourmet Lives, and Food and Wine. In 2002, she interviewed a wingnut farmer named Mark, and took more than a professional interest in both him and his vocation. Together they founded Essex Farm in New York in 2004­—the world’s first full-diet CSA, and they’ve been professionally dirty ever since. Kristin and Mark have two daughters.

Related Events

Love's Ice Cream

Making Ice Cream with Love’s

Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 7:00 pm
Thursday, July 11, 2013, 7:00 pm
Uptown Kitchen – 423 Norwood Ave. SE

Join Chris McKellar of Love’s Ice Cream to learn the process of making ice cream at home in a way that is easy to follow and fun. With a few simple tools, you will be able to transform milk, cream, sugar, and a flavor of your choice into luscious ice cream. Get tips on buying local and organic ingredients. Space is limited. Register at

Kristin Kimball

Farm, Food & Family: Ten Years on Essex Farm

Wednesday, August 7, 2013, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library Street NE

Kristin Kimball is a farmer and writer from northern New York. She and her husband Mark run Essex Farm, a 500-acre, draft-horse-powered farm that provides a full diet, year-round, for 250 members. Her memoir, The Dirty Life, chronicles the farm’s chaotic start-up year. The farm is now in its tenth season. Kristin will give a reading and talk about how the farm has changed since its inception. A question and answer period and book signing will follow the presentation.

Dancing Goat Creamery

Cheesemaking with Dancing Goat Creamery

Thursday, August 8, 2013, 7:00 pm & 7:45 pm
Uptown Kitchen – 423 Norwood NE

Join us at Uptown Kitchen where Veronica Phelps from Dancing Goat Creamery will be demonstrating the process of cheesemaking. Phelps has been making cheese with Dancing Goat for the past several years. Her interest began after purchasing a “cow share” which allowed her to receive fresh, raw milk straight from the farm. Soon after, she found herself interning at Dancing Goat and is now the co-owner. In this presentation, she will show participants how to make “30-minute mozzarella.” Space is limited. Register at

Lisa Rose Starner

Vote with Your Fork! Conversations with a Locavore

Thursday, August 29, 2013, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library Street NE

Join local food advocate, urban farmer, herbalist, and author Lisa Rose Starner to explore the growing good food movement in Grand Rapids. Starner will share stories of the rugged individuals who are tilling the soil, growing food, and launching successful food businesses while powering community change—one garden, one backyard, one block, one store, one plate of food, cup of coffee, and mug of beer at a time. Join this community conversation about our food system, environment, economy, and the relationships we have with each other. Attendees will leave with a fresh perspective on the local food movement in Grand Rapids and will be inspired to become part of this powerful force to help change our community one fork at a time.