I first met Tyler back in 2012 while i was working as an educator at Stone Barns Centre for Food and Agriculture. A not- for- profit farm who's mission is to create a sustainable food system through thoughtful farming and education, located about an hours drive north of New York City.
For a few years i took school kids on tours around the farm, teaching them about where their food comes from, how it's grown and sometimes taking them into the kitchen to cook what they had harvested from the farm that morning. It was such an incredible few years of both teaching and learning that really engrained in me how important it is to know where your food comes from and how it was raised.
Tyler was one of the greenhouse apprentices at Stone Barns while i was there and after a few years of working with the kids i decided to see if my thumb really was green and joined Tyler in seeding, planting, weeding and harvesting. We would work and chat the afternoons away and it was always the highlight of my week.
Tyler grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. Graduating from college in 2011 with, believe it or not, a film studies degree. Farming didn't even cross his mind. It was only after a working holiday on an organic olive farm in Provence, France that his love of farming became apparent and changed his path forever.
After returning from France Tyler was lucky enough to land his apprenticeship at Stone Barns, one of the most forward thinking farms in NY state, and it was there that he 100% knew this life was for him.
He was also lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.... Or maybe it was just fate that led him to meet Benjamin Hoyer, a former hedge fund manager and long time Stone Barns volunteer. Ben saw a valuable opportunity in Tyler as a young farmer and purchased 40 acres of land in upstate NY that Tyler agreed to sign a 7 year lease on. It is from this land that he is running his extremely successful Ale Wife Farm.
Tyler grew over 100 vegetables in his first season alone that he sold through the popular Quinciple subscription food box, Farmbox and restaurants like Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Market Street.
"It's definitely the hardest thing i've ever done" says Tyler. But with plans to expand his production by double this year and stands at popular greenmarkets throughout NYC, including Union Square, i think he's going to do just fine.
5 MINUTES WITH TYLER:
What is NYC to you? Right now it's my primary market. I've lived in the city at various points since college and it will always have some special meaning for me, but I think I'm past the point where I would want to live there. Going down once a week for market is plenty for me now.
Favorite Ale Wife Farm plant you are growing? I love growing garlic. Probably my favourite thing to grow. Maybe ginger as a strong second.
3 words that are important to you around food? Fresh, flavorful, authentic.
Winter or Summer? Winter, definitely. I wilt above about 80F. Summer is always a tough time for my body and I'd like to increase our winter production over time, maybe so that someday we can relax a bit in the warmer months.
Sweet or Savory? Definitely savory. Not very into sweets.
Red, white or rose? Not a big wine drinker but I'd say red. I'd rather have an old fashioned any day.
Go to comfort food? Fried chicken. Or cheesecake (smooth, not ricotta).
What would your last meal be? I've actually thought about this a lot and it's something that we frequently discuss on the farm. I'd have to go with bacon and eggs. If I'm allowed desert then a vanilla milkshake.
Favourite travel experience? After college I spent 3 months wwoofing on an organic olive farm in France, outside Nice. It was a life changing experience and definitely pushed me toward farming as a career.
And finally, you have done amazingly well starting up your own farm. Can you share one of the most important things you have learned along the way? Take time to rest! You won't get very far if you burn yourself out in the first few years.
You can find Tyler at the Ale Wife Farm stand at Union Square Greenmarket on Fridays. Don't forget to say hi!
Photos shot at Union Square Greenmarket by Morgan Ione Yeager