From a Gardener’s Bookshelf


Good Husbandry: Growing Food, Love, and Family on Essex Farm
By Kristin Kimball

I happened upon this book on the new book shelf at the ICPL about two years ago. It was a pleasure to read and I thought worth doing a book review for the Thymes but I’ve only now gotten to it.

So what exactly is “husbandry”? The Oxford English Dictionary lists two definitions: 1) the care, cultivation, and breeding of crops and animals, and 2) management and conservation of resources. Certainly after reading this book you will appreciate that it is fittingly titled!
Strictly speaking this is not a book with a primary focus on gardening but instead on making a life farming as our grandparents and those before them might have. This book is really a follow-up or sequel to Kristin Kimball’s first offering The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love.

Good Husbandry chronicles the experience of a young family: Kristin, partner Mark and their two children living on a 500-acre farm in upstate New York. It is the ups and downs and daily challenges of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) providing food for 250 people.

Throughout this book Kristin shares a story of creating a life on an agriculturally diverse farm (providing meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, herbs, grains, pantry staples, fresh flowers and more). Highlighted are the challenges: the unpredictable weather, personal injuries and financial pressures facing a young family. Can this type of farm succeed and provide for their members?

As summarized on the inside cover of the book: “Featuring some of the local characters and cherished animals first introduced in The Dirty Life, plus a colorful cast of aspiring farmers who work at the Kimballs’ farm to acquire the skills they need to start businesses of their own. Good Husbandry is about friends and neighbors, love and marriage, births and deaths, growth and abundance.”

Prior to CSA farming, Kimball worked as a freelance writer, writing teacher and assistant to a literary agent in New York City. This background shows as her writing is exceptional and the book well edited. It is a thorough joy to read!

The work on Essex Farm continues today and you can read much more about the farm on their website: There is a blog and an abundance of pictures from the farm and its activities also online!