The Local Food Dinner is an event centered on celebrating food, farmers and community.  In addition to enjoying a wonderful meal made from ingredients sourced close to home, the Local Food Dinner hosts a farmers’ market and inspirational speaker.

kristin kimballThis year, Kristin Kimball, author of The Dirty Life will be our dinner keynote.

“The Dirty Life is a wonderfully told tale of one of the most interesting farms in the country. If you want to understand the heart and soul of the new/old movement towards local food, this is the book you need. It’s the voice of what comes next in this land, of the generation unleashed by Wendell Berry to do something really grand.”

— Bill McKibben, author Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Preceding the dinner event, the public is invited to an indoor farmers’ market showcasing the diversity of agriculture products within the Cumberland Valley and surrounding areas!


Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
Farmers’ Market: 2pm to 6pm in HUB Lobby (free & open to the public)
Dinner will be served at 6:30pm.
Where: Dickinson College Holland Union Building (HUB), 28 N. College Street, Carlisle, PA
Keynote Speaker: Kristin Kimball, author of The Dirty Life and co-owner of Essex Farm

More information about how to buy tickets

Tickets to the dinner and keynote will go on sale on Friday, March 7th at 12:00pm via

• Tickets are $25 each for community members ($26.87 with online service fee). These tickets are available via the link above and can be purchased using any device with an internet connection, smart phones and tablets included.

• Thanks to the generous support of Dickinson’s Student Senate, Dickinson students will have the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets again this year. Student tickets will be sold in the lower level of the HUB Monday, March 3-Friday, March 7 from 11:30-1:30 and then again after spring break, Monday March 17-21 from 11:30-1:30. The cost is a suggested donation of students’ choice.

Local Food Dinner Menu, 2014

Our 11th annual Local Food Dinner will please the palette and have you coming back for seconds!

A variety of local cheeses at the Local Food Dinner.

Pear & Goat Cheese Salad

Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad

Vegan Kale & Bean chili

Shepherd’s Pie

Mushroom Faro

Sweet Potato Casserole

Roasted Root Vegetable

Beet Cake with Leo’s Ice Cream

2010 Local Food Dinner

How to Purchase Tickets

Dickinson College students will have the chance to purchase discounted tickets via a pre-sale organized by Students Interested in Sustainable Agriculture (SISA). Contact SISA at  garden at for more information about this pre-sale for students.

Community members as well as Dickinson faculty, administrators, staff will have a chance to purchase tickets through Brown Paper Tickets. More information and a link to be posted soon.

Getting to the Local Food Dinner

Map of Dickinson Campus
– Holland Union Building is #16.

The Holland Union Building’s street address is 28 N. College Street, Carlisle, PA, 17013.

Directions to Dickinson

Parking is available on the street and in campus lots. Carpooling is encouraged!

About the Keynote Speaker, Kristin Kimball

the dirty life cover“I was born in 1971, and grew up in central New York. I graduated from Harvard in 1994, then moved to New York City, where I worked at a literary agency, taught creative writing, and freelanced for magazines and travel guides. In 2002, I interviewed a wingnut farmer named Mark, and took more than a professional interest in both him and his vocation. We founded Essex Farm together in 2004 – the world’s first full-diet CSA, as far as we know – and I’ve been professionally dirty ever since. Mark and I have two daughters, and I have three great jobs: mother, farmer, writer. I stink at returning email.

Since the publication of The Dirty Life, I’ve written for O Magazine about what it’s like to change your life completely; for Vogue on physical work, and for Gourmet Live on all sorts of farm and food related subjects (The Pigs Are AlrightA Corny StoryTales of TerroirThree Things Every Ethical Eater Needs To Know). Food & Wine featured us here, the Burlington Free Press here, and for the francophones out there, Alix Girod de l’Ain Laffontwrote about us here, in French Elle.

Praise for The Dirty Life

“Kimball’s memoir is heightened by the serious question at its heart—What modes of farming besides industrial agriculture are available to us, and how might we achieve them?—and by her intimate yet spacious prose, spiked with color and wonderful descriptions of food… you feel, in reading the book, as if she’s thrown open the big red doors on her barn and invited you in.”


“Kimball is a graceful, luminous writer with an eye for detail… How lucky we are to be able to step into that world with no sweat. I wished for a hundred pages more.”

— Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Kimball has a gift for throwing into high relief contemporary Americans’ disconnect between farm-life realities and city ambitions.”

— Booklist

About Essex Farm

Essex Farm offers a year-round, full diet, free choice membership. We produce grass-fed beef, pastured pork, chicken, eggs, fifty different kinds of vegetables, milk, grains and flour, fruit, herbs, maple syrup, and soap. Members come to the farm on Fridays, from 3pm to 7pm, and take what they need for the week, in any quantity or combination they choose. We sometimes limit scarce items, like maple syrup or the year’s first tomatoes, but most food is available on an all-you-can-eat basis. Members are encouraged to take extra produce during the growing season for freezing or canning, to supplement what is available from the root cellar during winter and early spring. In addition to food, we offer members the opportunity to hike the farm, visit fields and animals, and join us as volunteers for harvest and field work.

We currently farm 600 acres and feed 222 members. We are powered by fifteen solar panels, nine draft horses, ten full-time farmers, and three tractors. We do not use synthetic fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide. Our animals eat feed we’ve grown ourselves or local hay and local, certified organic grain.

Our mission: We strive to produce an abundance of high quality food while fostering the health and resiliency of the farm, the farmers, the members, and the community. Our desire is to build an agro-ecosystem that is sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially. We work to make a farm that is better tomorrow than it is today.

Essex Farm was started in 2003 by Mark and Kristin Kimball. Mark graduated from Swarthmore College with a self-directed degree in Agricultural Science.  He has been farming for 19 years, and has traveled across the country and around the world in search of a truly sustainable, diversified farm. Kristin graduated from Harvard University and worked as a writer and editor based in New York City before meeting Mark. Her memoir, The Dirty Life, chronicles Essex Farm’s startup year.

About the Local Food Dinner

Attendees at the Local Food Dinner share in food and conversation at the all-local catered buffet.What better way to expose our students and local community to the vast array of resources that exist in the Cumberland Valley than to create a dinner made almost exclusively with local ingredients?

Since 2004, the farm has collaborated with student organization SISA to help organize our region’s local food celebration. By contacting local farmers and working with the College’s Dining Services to develop a seasonally appropriate menu, we have succeeded in drawing a crowd of 250 each year for a feast that is one of a kind.

Local Food Dinner MenuWe have been fortunate to have leaders like Ben Hewitt, author of “The Town that Food Saved” and “Making Supper Safe”; Anna Lappe, co-founder of Small Planet Institute and a widely respected author and educator, renowned for her work as a sustainable food advocate; Kim Tait, owner of Tait Farms food activist, and agricultural entrepreneur; Nina Planck, Farmers’ Market organizer, food activist, and author; Kim Seeley, PA Dairy Farmer, President of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA); Anthony Flaccavento, founder and executive director of Appalachian Sustainable Development as keynote speakers.

Our Local Food Dinner is held on campus in the Holland Union Building (HUB) Social Hall every spring.

Past Speakers

Janisse Ray photoMarch 23rd, 2013: Janisse Ray

Writer, naturalist and activist Janisse Ray is author of four books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. She is on the faculty of Chatham University’s low-residency MFA program and is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow.

She holds an MFA from the University of Montana, and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Unity College in Maine.

Ray has won a Southern Booksellers Award for Poetry 2011, Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction 1999, an American Book Award 2000, the Southern Environmental Law Center 2000 Award for Outstanding Writing, and a Southern Book Critics Circle Award 2000.  Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read.

Ray attempts to live a simple, sustainable life on a farm in southern Georgia with her husband, Raven Waters. Ray is an organic gardener, seedsaver, tender of farm animals, and slow-food cook.

She lectures widely on nature, community, agriculture, wildness, sustainability and the politics of wholeness.

NPR Marketplace interview with Kai Ryssdal: “The science (and business) of sowing seeds”

Ben HewittMarch 24th, 2012: Ben Hewitt

Hewitt was born and raised in northern Vermont, where he currently runs a small-scale, diversified farm with his family. He lives with his wife and two sons in a self-built home that is powered by a windmill and solar photovoltaic panels. To help offset his renewable energy footprint, Ben drives a really big truck. His work has appeared in numerous national periodicals, including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Gourmet, Discover, Skiing, Eating Well, Yankee Magazine, Powder, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure, and Outside. His latest book is Making Supper Safe: One Man’s Quest to Learn the Truth about Food Safety.

Listen to an interview with Ben Hewitt on NPR’s Think Radio with Krys Boyd: “Is Our Food Really Safe?”

LA Times: “Frontlines of a Food Revolution”

Ben Hewitt’s Website


Anna LappeApril 9, 2011: Anna Lappe, daughter of Frances Moore Lappe and international advocate on issues relating to “sustainability, food politics, globalization, and social change”.Anna Lappe founded the Small Planet Institute.






March 27, 2010: Tim Stark, farmer and author of “Heirloom”, a memoir of over fifteen years of growing heirloom vegetables on Eckerton Hill Farm.
The Examiner: “Successful Tomato Farmer Tim Stark Details the Ironies of his Job”

Dickinson News and Events: 2010 Local Food Dinner





April 4, 2009: Lyle Estill, author of “Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy”; “Biodiesel Power; the Passion, People, and Politics of the Next Renewable Fuel”; and “Industrial Evolution; Local Solutions for a Low Carbon Future”.

 “Local Food Dinner to Feature Heirloom Tomato Guru Tim Stark”