In a long-ago published interview (I think it was in an Ebony magazine I was reading in the dentist’s office), I remember Eartha Kitt being quoted as saying:

“I trust the dirt. I don’t trust diamonds and gold.”

As a kid growing up in North Carolina, who most assuredly had dirt beneath his fingernails at the time, this was a profound (and profoundly crazy) statement, which is, I suppose, why it stuck with me all of these years.

Of course, almost as soon as it was humanly possible, I fled the red clay environs of my childhood for the smooth, hard asphalt of New York City…in the pursuit of diamonds and gold.

By most people’s account, I found them.   I had a good job and a de-luxe apartment on the Upper East Side– just like the Jeffersons (!)  I went to some pretty great parties and had some conversations with some famous people (They’re just like US!!)

But after a while, you learn that many of the diamonds are zirconian and a lot of the gold is just left over brass from one of Donald Trump’s construction projects.

Josh and I cashed in every last stock we owned and scraped the bottom of our savings barrel and purchased The Beekman Farm.  At the time, it was a cute diversion from our life in the city.  We adopted a herd of goats (and a farmer),  plucked eggs fresh from the chicken coop, planted a garden with heirloom vegetables, learned to can, jam, preserve and freeze, and even learned to make our own soap and cheese.

That first summer on the farm, the garden was so successful that our weekly grocery bill was reduced to $30 (including the necessary paper-based products).    We were in the best shape of our lives and our skin was perfectly sun-kissed, albeit in a distinctive farmer’s tan pattern.

Of course, our friends thought we were kind of crazy. Why did we spend every weekend working from sun up ‘til sun down?  Why had we become so fascinated by the differences between cow, goat and rabbit manure? And why would we exile ourselves so far away from the Hamptons?

In the fall of ’08, as the markets entered the beginning stages of their global meltdown, we were sitting in the kitchen of the farm canning the last of the tomatoes and listening to NPR when a conversation with Eartha Kitt came on.  She talked about the early part of her career when she was just starting “to make it”.  In her first home in Beverly Hills, she installed a chicken coop in the backyard and referred to herself as a “dirt girl”.

And with that it became clear.   We are dirt people, too.

Like Eartha at the start of her career, when we started Beekman 1802, we were a novelty act.

These days we have plenty of friends who want to learn about life on the farm, about gardening and about $30 a week grocery bills and whose dream we are living right before their very eyes.

As we struggle to grow our farm, work with members of our community to grow our village and create a better life for everyone around, some might say that we are still chasing gold.

One thing remains true.  That gold is the “black” kind.  It’s the glacial kind.  The kind that made Schoharie County, NY, “the breadbasket of the American Revolution”.  The kind from which springs infinite possibilities for growth.

The kind that gets under your nails and stays there.

 

by Dr. Brent

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Heather

My very good friend once met Eartha Kitt (in his NYC cab, naturally). He said she was lovely. Clearly, she was wise.

There is no necessity to accepting a mass-marketed (Hollywood?) version of what your life should be. Eartha knows this.

Listen to the wind and the trees and the soil…

That is all you need to know.

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Annette Chessar

My husband and I just watched your show on netflix. We loved it! You have a beautiful home. What a wonderful life you both have worked so hard to obtain. Hope to see more of your show.

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Kathy D

This reminded me of my husband's beloved grandfather. He had worked in his garden the day that he died and the family told the undertaker to leave the dirt under his nails. That said it all.

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Chris

I just wanted to let you guys know that, and we’re only on one acre, my husband just ordered our first ever bees, to arrive in May. He’s become a member of a backyard beekeeping society in our state (CT) and he’s finally ready to go for it. We’re very excited and hope to encourage others to have hives as well, if people have not seen the film ‘The Vanishing of the Bees’ they really ought to. It’s a game-changer as far as I’m concerned.

You guys are truly inspiring to us. Next summer we hope to install a raised vegetable garden and begin growing many of our own vegetables. We’ll see how it goes, but you guys are a reminder that a more simpler life, and one that takes care of the land, is not only the right thing to do, but can be fabulous:)

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Linda O'Neill

I love you boys.I live with my big sis Jan in a duplex but we have a huge back yard very garden worthy.The proiblem is there is so much shade on both sides sun would have a problem getting to it.I could put out such a beautiful garden but my poor x brother n law would have to cut down so much on the two sides blocking the sun. I dont think either side would mind but I don't know whether our little gardner would.I;d love to try to do some canning this summer,Theres no food like it anywhere and you know exactly whats going in your body.I'm having the ru en y (gastric bypass) in Jan. and by spring I should be able to plant. It would be great exercise for me too wouldn't you think so Dr. Brent? Lovingly Linda O'Neill

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Patrick Littel

You are, not only in your beautiful prose, but in your deeds, making us realize that our culture is changing, and that there are many positive avenues for change.

My family moved from Philadelphia to the rurals of southern New Jersey, where my grandmother made candy and her famous pies to help my grandfather support our family.

Thanks so much for the intimate view of your lives. We know you better, and can only admire what you have accomplished for yourselves and Sharon Springs, and for anyone who has questioned their future road.

Please let me share a quote from my mother (and William John Bennett): "There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes."

Everything you do is important on a farm. Thanks for sharing with us.

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centralia heart

Hi Dr. Brent, next year I will hopefully grow all or almost all of our veggies in Olivebridge. There is no sense in growing corn because we live so close to Hurley and Hurley corn is awesome. I hope that i can learn to can without poisoning a lot of people. I know that i will not raise farm animals, i could never kill them and i do not eat meat anyway. love, Centralia

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L.L.Coleman

Just want to post on here, even though it is now June 25. Yesterday New York State showed some humanity & compassion, signing same sex marriage legalization into the law books. You and Josh were the first people I thought of; it is beyond wonderful……..

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Linda MacDonald

You and Josh are doing what I CAN'T do in an apartment…grow veggies, raise chickens, goats etc. I think that is part of why I love watching your show so much..I know you really work at it, but it really is a dream for many people…thanks for letting us apartment people experience what it's like to live on a working farm. I have to plant my stuff in a movable earthbox. You plant in the real thing…awesome!

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Dennis Landes

My wife and I absolutely LOVE the show!! We just ordered some of the soaps and can't wait for them to arrive! We also ordered some cheese, and hopefully our wait won't be too long for that.

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Eva Havle

Just spent a wonderful weekend in Sharon Springs at the American Hotel celebrating a friend's birthday. Making plans to return for Halloween. Love your store!

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Kay

40 hives that is crazy, you must do a 3rd season so we can see how that works for you. Our daughter has her urban farm right in Salt Lake City. Bees, chickens a huge garden and now wants one of those mini cows. Life will be complete.

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Ruth

I hope that you guys do a 3rd season and can really talk about the importance of bees and of how they are in a serious decline. I still hear of people killing entire swarms out of fear. I guess they think that the blooms will pollinate themselves! The bees are in such short supply here that we are beginning to rely on wasps for some of our pollination.

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B.J. Gouedy

I have been away from your web site for a couple of months. What a joy to get back to your adventures. My son and daughter-in-law have started an organic farm here in Louisiana, complete with chickens. She has started selling produce from the gardens, eggs, cornish hens, and chickens. She has tried her hand at raising grains and making her own flours. I go and play lady farmer at least one day a week with her.

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Suzanne Kouns

I think we all reach a point of wanting to live off the land , go back to our roots , or live as the "dirty people" life you speak of. It is actally attractive for most people-today especially. I adore your show, the farm, and how you both inspire so many people. I started with some chickens 5 years ago in hopes of something similar to your pursuit. I have not come as far, (nearly) but; i like to think my dream is closer and my feaver for a more simple, less needy existance is never that far out of reach. I have a long way to go but, less of some things is MORE of another. Sincere Thanks for you being You, Suzanne

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tami

I love that on so many levels… we have chickens now too.. the ones that lay white, brown and yes… blue eggs.. we are working to get to the black gold.. the earth under my nails, and a sunset, versus a keyboard and computer screen!!

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Julie

I love this article. I've read it over and over. Maybe that is weird, but I know exactly where you're coming from. Right now I have a neighborhood back yard planted with kale, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs, and dream of the day I can add chickens and goats. Think the neighbors will mind? LOL! Good luck to you!

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Lori T

Oh, Brent- this posting is about as true to my heart as I have ever read. I am leaving my current position as an Assistant Principal in a private school to chase my dream of being a full-time organic farmer. I just today told a a colleague- "I can't wait to be in the dirt full-time!" Do people think I'm crazy? Hell yes! Do I think that somewhere in the backs of their minds they have a dream that they would love to dive into? Absolutely. Congratulations for living yours and inspiring mine!

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Brian Butler

I really do not think that you and Josh have any idea on how you guys truly inspire people. You make us all want to be better people. As one of those people, I want to say thank you.

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Kathy Woodbeck

I just want to say as a lifelong resident of Sharon Springs NY, you truely are polishing the "gold" of our lovely town and making it alive again 🙂 a small town girl could not ask for more, to have been raised in the historic community and seeing it go almost to ruins, and then some people came along (many people) to help her shine again 🙂 Thank you each and every one of you, (you know who you are)

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Connie

Have you ever written a book?? If not, you should! You are an awesome writer! Such a way with words! I would buy it in a heart-beat! Everything you (and Josh) write always makes me feel good!

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Stephanie P

My nail brush is working overtime this weekend trying to get all the planting done! I see a mani/pedi in my immediate future. Good luck with your own plantings!

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Michael

We love your show. Just finished Josh's book. The family and I hope to make it up there this summer for a visit!

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Hilary Campbell

You both are such an inspiration, I love Josh's books, your show, your products, and your website. I think I may be living vicariously through the adventures you share with the world. Thank you for sharing!

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Claudette Burditte

So happy things are going well for you two. Miss you already! Oh, Happy Birthday Dr. Brent!!!

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