Pieter Estersohn’s Photo Book Back to the Land

By   |  Photos by Pieter Estersohn  |    |  Features  |  Home Goods

Pieter Estersohn’s newest book, Back to the Land (Rizzoli) introduces the reader to 35 quirky Hudson Valley farmers (and others who tend our local foodscape), many of whom the readers of this magazine may already be friends and neighbors with, in a beautifully shot coffee table book of idyllic rural landscapes, dreamy country interiors, and arresting portraits.

Sarah Chase is part of the third generation to run Chaseholm Farms dairy and creamery. She is pictured in front of the barn complex where they bottle milk and cream in glass, and produce award-winning cheeses with the milk from 33 grass-fed cows on over 300 acres in Pine Plains.

Estersohn is a relative newcomer to the local life. His remarkable photojournalism career had him based in New York City since the age of 19 when he worked for Interview magazine, later traveling the world shooting the grandest homes for Architectural Digest, Elle Decor and others. More recently he renovated his own Hudson Valley Greek revival home with his son Elio, and documented the region through his history-inspired 2018 book Life Along the Hudson: The Historic Country Estates of the Livingston Family. Now he turns his camera to more pastoral themes: His photos of the land are tremendous and span the seasons; images of farm houses and outbuildings reflect his stylish architectural eye for both structure and detail; and his photographs of those tending the farms show his admiration of their resilience and independence. We share three portraits here.

The full name of the book—Back to the Land: A New Way of Life in the Country: Foraging, Cheesemaking, Beekeeping, Syrup Tapping, Beer Brewing, Orchard Tending, Vegetable Gardening, and Ecological Farming in the Hudson River Valley—gives a good glimpse into the scope of its contents, and indeed it’s not “just” a photo book. Estersohn has written a love letter to what he calls “the new generation of independent farmers,” both generally and specifically, in 35 ways, one for each of his subjects. The last pages of the book contain a section dedicated to “Agritourism” comprising listings of farmers’ markets, restaurants, and other farming resources in the region. Back to the Land lovingly documents this moment in the long history of a very fertile region, once known as the bread basket of New York.

Nfamara Badjie and his son Malick, originally from Gambia, and Moustapha Diedhiou, originally from Senegal, are musicians and co-founders of Ever-Growing Family Farm in Kerhonkson, one of the only commercial rice farms in our region.

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