Press-Republican

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July 15, 2007

SPECTRUM: Essex Farms

Farm living the life for Essex couple

The last place one might expect to find a Harvard graduate -- with a degree in Literature and seven months pregnant -- would be behind a horse-drawn plow.

But that's exactly where Kristin Kimball can be found on a hot summer day at Essex Farms, which she and her husband, Mark, operate.

The farm itself is also unusual from the perspectives of its economic base, as well as its adherence to food grown without the use of chemicals and a basic reliance on manual and horse-drawn labor.

The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) economic system by which the farm operates might be considered a cross between Wall Street, with the selling of shares, and a Russian commune or Israeli kibbutz. Basically, it consists of a community of shareholders who financially, physically, legally and spiritually share in the harvests and responsibilities of the farm's operation.

There is always a risk of a poor harvest, and a financial loss, due to a number of factors, such as weather.

Farming was always in the mind and blood of Mark Kimball, who grew up in New Paltz and obtained an agricultural degree from Swarthmore College. He has bicycled across the country and worked at a number of farms throughout the U.S.

To Mark, "The constant challenge of success and failure" brings him fulfillment.

Kristen's writing background -- she did travel articles and worked for a literary agent in New York City -- led her to Mark as she was writing an article about a farm in Pennsylvania in which he was working.

Kristin's attachment to farm life stems from her belief that, "Theoretically, everything you do has a very clear meaning. There's a sense of satisfaction "¦ and I love the horses."

However she admits, "The work never ends. I worry about the financial part and going into debt."

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