A Visit To Essex Farm - Kristin and Mark Kimball's Farm As Featured In "The Dirty Life"

I must say, this book is wonderful - very inspirational, and when I saw advertised that Mark and Kristin were offering a farm tour this past Saturday I was thrilled and signed us up immediately.

What I liked the best about their farm is that it's not a "boutique" farm.  Nope.  This is a real, get your hands, arms, legs, feet and everything else dirty, work until 4a.m. and then start again at 6a.m. type of farm.  I'm also happy to report that Mark and Kristin seem to be as down to earth, passionate and genuinely nice people in person as they appear to be in the book.  They are truly thankful for where they are and what they have. 

Although they do use tractors sparingly, almost all work at Essex Farm is done by a combination of manpower and horsepower.  The work horses are stunning.  Watching them work is even more beautiful.

Mark and Kristin run a year-round free choice CSA which offers vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, grains and dairy.  What is free choice?  The farmer doesn't determine what each shareholder will take home that week.  The shareholder gets to determine.  Mark and Kristin set out a huge array of vegetables, meats, grains, dairy and eggs and each shareholder chooses what they want for the week and how much of it.  I think it's a wonderful idea.

We toured the fruit and vegetable fields first and had the opportunity to watch the horses in action.  Probably the most amazing thing I learned about the fruit and vegetable fields is that they have no irrigation.  They do not water at all.  Their soil is that good.  Amazing, right?

Next we toured the baby chicks, dairy barn and learned about their solar system.  Their entire farm is run off the solar panels.  They were fortunate enough to receive federal and state grants to fund most of the costs.  The milkhouse is another wonderful idea.  The thought of the most inexpensive way to create a milkhouse that would be sufficient to pass inspection.  They purchased a refrigerated trailer, removed the wheels, set up the inside and voila.  Milkhouse is in business.  Kristin shared that the inspector, upon visiting the farm, told her "well, it's not the most attractive milkhouse, but it certainly passes inspection".

They used the same idea for their butcher shop.  A converted refrigerated trailer.  Again, not so attractive but extremely cost efficient and functional.

They have 3 root cellars, a large compost area {everything is composted}, a greenhouse, and a simple yet practical gathering area for the shareholders to pick up their groceries every Friday.

Although the weather wasn't pleasant {upper 90's}, it was enjoyable to listen to them speak about their passion for farming and connecting with the members of their community.  They both acknowledged that although there are plenty of things they would do differently, they are very happy with what they've got and have many hopes and dreams for their future.  Every person who took the tour walked away with bags of wonderful produce grown at Essex's Farm.

They are living my "retirement" dream.


  1. It's just as beautiful as I imagined from reading Kristin's book. I'm so glad you were able to join in on the tour, it sounds fun and I got to go along for the ride. Thanks so much for sharing this Staci!! : )


  2. I just HAVE to pick up this book now. You've perked my interest and the "tour" you gave us today was wonderful, Staci. Great pic's.

    PS - So glad Ollie's doing better.

  3. Andrea, I'm so glad you enjoyed the photo's. Yes, it is as beautiful as described in the book. Tami, thanks so much for the sweet words and your wishes for Oliver. They are much appreciated.

  4. sounds great...I am going to put that book on my reading list...need to finish the one I am currently reading first but I think the dirty life will be next

  5. Thanks for sharing about the book and the tour! I'll look for the book for sure...

  6. Would love to visit this farm, thanks for sharring.

  7. This looks like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. I wish we had the property to do something like this. I guess after all these years I have learned that I really am deep down a farmer girl.

  8. You will definitely enjoy the book! A great memoir about the realities of farming as well as the realities of relationships. :-) Thanks for the wonderful comments!

  9. Wow, so glad u got to see them in action! What a wealth of ideas! Enjoyed your pictures as always :)

  10. That was a great book and so inspiring how they overcame so many obstacles to live their dream. Thanks for joining the Maple Hill Hop today!


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