Kimball finds it's a 'Dirty Life,' but someone has to do it

ESSEX - When Kristin Kimball got her first taste of life on a small-town farm, she found it was very different from life in Manhattan - to say the least.

"It was a shock in many ways," admitted Kimball. "I was a city person so, physical work was completely new to me."

However, Kimball didn't just go from being a writer in New York City to Mrs. Green Jeans over night.

"I got really interested in the small farming movement. So, I started interviewing young farmers in the Hudson Valley," explained Kimball.

Eventually, she made her way to a "young, intelligent, tall, handsome farmer" in State College, Pa., and fell madly in love.

"First with farming and then with him," she said, adding her soon-to-be husband, Mark, was "a close second."

The two uprooted themselves and found a new home in Essex County, establishing Essex Farm, a 500-acre farm, in 2003. Though her husband was an experienced farmer, Kimball - who grew up in the moderately-sized Central New York town of Rome - admits she was not.

"I felt stupid pretty much every day of that first year," said Kimball. "It was incredibly humbling, incredibly satisfying work, but darn hard."

Converting from a hard-wired metropolitan to a hard-working farmer was something that Kimball found to be good fodder for a book. So, she wrote one - "The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love," which documents Kimball's transformative first year and the trials and tribulations of building a sustainable farm in the Adirondacks.

"It is the story of what it was like for me to leave my life in the city and go through the sort of satisfying but extremely difficult process of becoming a farmer," she said. "It's about what it's like to change your life radically and really commit to a person, a place and a way of life."

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