February 3, 2017

Treadling lightly at Treadlight Farm



Meet Matt and Irene.

They own Treadlight Farm, a flower and vegetable farm in Bovina, NY.
This summer, they will be bringing us specialty cut flowers and ornamental plants which they grow on south facing slopes in the western Catskill mountains.

Their selection is curated with great care “by us and by nature,” says Irene. “We grow what we think is beautiful, or delicious, and nature whittles that down to what grows well in our cool seasons and rocky soil.”
Born in New Jersey, Irene has a background in landscape conservation. Armed with an MS from the University of Pennsylvania, she set out to conserve farmland in the most direct way possible: by working on it. She believes that the more people rely on the land, the better stewards of it they become.
Matt is from California and studied sustainable development at NYU. He got the farming bug while a Fulbright scholar in Mali and Senegal, researching farmers who resisted the loss of their lands to industrial-sized operations.

The two met and converged on a vegetable farm in Argentina in 2011, and have been farming side-by-side ever since. They are committed  to small-scale, ecologically-minded agriculture “because we have seen the kinds of impacts large-scale farming can have on people and on the environment.”


Indeed, at Treadlight Farm, Matt and Irene “tread lightly” on their farmland. Their fields were tilled only once and won’t be again. After the initial tillage, they built permanent raised beds to which they added soil, compost, then mulch cut from their neighbor’s hay fields. They plant into the mulch. When the mulch breaks down it creates new soil on top of the beds, raising them even more, year by year.  This prevents erosion (important on sloped fields) while also providing a habitat for insect communities and fostering a healthy soil microbiology. It also reduces the need for irrigation, fertilization, and fossil fuel use, among other things, reducing their farm’s footprint.
They will be selling flower stems, branches and foliage in bunches as well as painterly mixed bouquets. They specialize in hard to find varieties of plants “that bring a visual spectacle to any space.”
We can’t wait to see them at the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market and to enjoy their stunning blossoms  in our homes.