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Natural Awakenings Richmond

City Slicker Turned Farmer is Chrysalis Keynote

Mar 01, 2016 07:40AM ● By Clair Norman

Kristin Kimball

Richmonders have an opportunity to hear from Kristin Kimball, author of The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love as the Chrysalis Institute Spring keynote speaker from 7 to 9 p.m., May 20, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. She is a journalist turned farmer who found love and mission from one of her subjects. With programs exploring the vital connections between food and spirituality, the Chrysalis Spring 2016 theme is A Nourishing Spirituality: Food, Body, and Soul. Kimball’s work matches perfectly.

Kimball was living the fast-paced life of a New York journalist when an interview with a dynamic farmer changed her world. On impulse, she left her city life and started a new farm with him on 500 acres in upstate New York. Inspired by love and the land, they wed and made a plan to create a sustainable farm and grow everything needed to feed a community. Their venture, Essex Farm, is powered by 15 solar panels, nine draft horses, 10 full-time farmers and three tractors. They do not use synthetic fertilizer, herbicide or pesticide, and the animals eat homegrown feed, hay and organic grain. Every Friday evening, all year round, hundreds of people travel to Essex Farm to pick up their weekly shares of healthy food that nourish their bodies, minds and souls.

Kimball’s book is a funny and insightful journey through her profound life-changing experience and paints a colorful picture of her farm life and her mission. Rachel Douglas, executive director of the Chrysalis Institute, found the opportunity to host Kimball irresistible. “Our perspective is that there are as many spiritual frameworks as there are individuals. Spirituality is about living your meaningful life. Food is an irresistible part of that journey,” says Douglas. She recognizes that meaningful behaviors abound around food. Many food rituals are not typically associated with religious traditions, but can be spiritual. There is birthday cake, celebratory champagne and the fellowship of sharing meals at a dinner table. Also, there are those with lives dedicated to preparing and serving others good food. From her perspective, that is a spiritual experience.

Kimball talks about the awe-inspiring, but reciprocal relationship she has with farming. She believes that just as a farmer transforms the land, the land transforms the farmer. That is a spiritual experience. “Spirituality isn’t a thing that you go somewhere to get exposed to. It’s a thing you feel down in your bones,” says Douglas. Bones and all body parts need nourishment from good healthy food. In that way food is an aspect of spiritual embodiment, she believes.

Chrysalis Institute looks for keynote speakers from outside the area that complement the organization’s mission of helping people think about spirituality outside the conventional boundaries of any one faith. Chrysalis seeks to provide resources, space and opportunities for exploring insights and practices drawn from the world’s spiritual traditions, philosophies and contemporary scientific discoveries.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the event, call 804-359-0384 or visit