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blue barn and silos at gulden farm

Pieter Estersohn Captures New York’s Neo-Ruralists in Back to the Land

Just ask any New Yorker and they will eagerly tell you that their city is the greatest city in the world. But if you catch them after a particularly long day and they’re feeling honest, they might admit that sometimes, just sometimes, New York City can be a bit of a grind.

If you live in the city long enough, you will either know someone who decamped upstate or you’ve dreamed about doing it yourself.

Or maybe you’re already upstate, enjoying some fresh air and wondering why you ever crammed your poor body onto packed trains during the the 5pm subway crunch.


Big Blue. New Yorkers Margie and Nate Thorne purchased the Gulden Farm in 2016 and renovated it. The property is now notable for its bold embrace of dark blue colors, inspired by the French artist Yves Klein.

Pieter Estersohn’s Back to the Land: A New Way of Life in the Country is a tribute to former urbanites who found new lives in the Hudson Valley; it’s also a roadmap for the farm-curious and design inspiration for anyone, everywhere. Estersohn—a photographer for Interview and Elle Decor—was born with a bit of a green thumb: His grandparents were farmers. Currently, Estersohn is following in their footsteps by helping to tend the land of a Hudson Valley farmer friend who sells produce at the Union Square Greenmarket.

Estersohn has a palpable appreciation of the people who discovered meaning in new lives in the Hudson Valley. Back to the Land is filled with people who, as he writes, found, “pride, honor, and nobility in their work.” Estersohn is often moved by the people in his photos. “The enthusiasm expressed by the farmers profiled here from the moment they get up in the morning until they observe the end-of-the-day’s results has been inspiring.”

Horsing Around. Miriam Goler, alongside her two 8-year-old mares Sandy and Sunshine, live on Full Circus Farm in Pine Plains, which specializes in produce. Goler and her husband, Mark Stonehill, met at New York’s Stuyvesant High School.

Back to the Land is a meditation both on the ways that people can become disconnected from the food that nourishes them and on the unexpected joys they experience when they ultimately reengage with nature. Even if you know you’ll never leave the city, time with Back to the Land might at least inspire you to appreciate where your food comes from—or perhaps, to just start growing herbs on your windowsill.