We had the good fortune of connecting with Marissa Pulaski and Nick DiDomenico and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marissa / Nick, what principle do you value most?
Our Core Values (Drylands Agroecology Research) 1. Researching and developing innovative systems for regenerating land in a diversity of conditions benefits the evolution of our society 2. Understanding the patterns of water and how to store and direct water is vital to the restoration of Earth 3. Creating opportunities for learning and demonstrating positive regenerative practices strengthens community and reinforces a thriving educational system 4. Developing land management practices based on nature’s ecological patterns creates resilience 5. Promoting the use of materials and practices when possible that are not furthering industrial culture 6. The regeneration of the Earth innately effects the health of culture and community 7. Understanding earth based practices encourages healthy human development 8. Diversity is essential to the positive function of any living system 9. A positive and healthy relationship to the land and where our food comes from promotes abundant and prosperous communities Our core value that matters most to us right now is 6. The regeneration of the Earth innately effects the health of culture and community As humans, we are a direct expression of the health of our landscape. Without healthy natural ecosystems, filled with clean water, air, and rich biodiversity, our cultural and community systems crumble.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Drylands Agroecology Research (DAR) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore the Earth and our communities through regenerative design. We do this by: Transforming dry, abandoned, and marginalized landscapes into lush ecosystems where humans, animals, and spirit can thrive. Proliferating and demonstrating the power of regenerative practice through research, education and living demonstrations. Over the last five years, we have studied and implemented regenerative farming and holistic living practices on the pilot research project, Elk Run Farm in rural Boulder County, Colorado. We see that industrial culture has created excessive waste, degraded landscapes, and damaged communities, that now lack interconnectedness, fulfillment, and meaningful relationships with the natural world. By working in harmony with nature’s patterns, we are restoring our world. By regenerating the land, we are rebuilding cultural health through ecological restoration, nutrient dense food production, and communal education experiences. DAR focuses on three sectors: Research, Regenerative Design, and Education/Outreach. These sectors inform, guide, and strategically overlap with one another. The entire project stemmed from homesteading on a piece of land in rural North Boulder County. We were excited to grow our own food and live in a holistic way. The land itself posed many challenges, as it had been slowly degrading and desertifying for some time, did not have access to ditch water rights, and had not previously been cultivated for farming. Thanks to some great teachers and mentors, and inspired by permaculture design and other earth based practices, we really believed that we could restore the land as we committed to restoring ourselves. The concept of self-transformation through land transformation has been a guiding force throughout this process. At times, things have been difficult, as farming is a consistently humbling livelihood. As first generation farmers, experimentation and adaption have provided many learning experiences, and some have seemed catastrophic at times. Raising livestock is beautiful, and a full time occupation without holidays. We’ve learned that prioritizing working with life and nature over the material world brings great peace and joy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would serve farm fresh meals three times a day, with home brewed Kombucha tonics as snacks and “pick me ups” in between. Touring local farms that we are partnered with such as MetaCarbon Organic Farm and the Yellow Barn Farm would be a must .. nibbling on fresh greens along the way. Fun farm parties and attending live music and curated events with on our steward partners land would help us loosen up. A few nights out is always life-giving- we love Japango because their sushi is like butter. Wearing high heels or a button down to BlackCat Boulder for an elegant farm to table dinner would seal up the trip, cheering to our futures over the best glasses of biodynamic wine.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Nick: My shoutout is to Mark Shepard, Farmer and Author of “Restoration Agriculture”. His model of land stewardship has been pivotal to the success of the ecological restoration at our farm, Elk Run, as well as the way that we approach design clients and other land stewards that we are engaged with. He professes a farming model based on diverse ecology and working in harmony with natures patterns that can be applied to any bioregion. His work has blazed the trail for us to develop terra-forming and contour earthwork strategies that have made it possible for us to establish over 1,600 fruit trees without any supplemental irrigation in here in semi-arid Colorado. These trees have become a pilot breeding program to develop these crops in low water settings. Marissa: I have to shoutout to my Russian ballet teachers who have taught me what it means to weave creativity and discipline with one another.
Instagram: @elkrun.farm / @drylandsagroecology