When journalist Kimball interviewed a charismatic farmer renowned for encouraging hipsters to return to the land, she little imagined how radically the assignment would alter her own life. Soon, they were not only in a relationship, she had left New York City to start a farm with him. Her humorous, honest memoir recounts what happens next, including injury, extreme weather and surprise tax bills, as well as children and bountiful organic produce. At once gritty and escapist, it offers timely lessons not just in perseverance, but in nurturing optimism, especially in the face of forces over which we have no control.
With considerable understatement, Kimball reckons “a farm will give you grit and perseverance”. Their achievement at Essex Farm is heroic, and this book is a vivid and inspiring account of alternative agriculture, filled with a visceral feeling for the earth and a love of seasonal, organic food. But Kimball doesn’t gloss over the back-breaking labour and heartache that is needed to turn sunlight into delicious natural produce, without ruining the earth for future generations. This is a remarkable celebration of the “alchemical combination of sun, earth, and physical effort” that is at the heart of truly sustainable farming.