Pilot Research Project

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In 2015, Nick DiDomenico set out to farm 14 deeply degraded acres in the foothills near Lyons, Colorado. There was only enough well water to irrigate less than an acre of de-vegetated property. When Nick reached out to the NRCS for advice on how to restore the land to a farmable state, they advised him to find another piece of land; without irrigation potential, there was no documented way to revitalize the land. From that moment, Elk Run Farm became a living experiment in how to restore deeply degraded land in a semi-arid climate without irrigation.

Today, through the dedication of Nick DiDomenico and Marissa Pulaski, Elk Run Farm is a thriving oasis in the high desert. Using passive water harvesting contour swales, 1000 trees and shrubs have been planted without irrigation, demonstrating a 79% survival rate across four years. What was a compact gravel parking lot is now five inches of rich topsoil that supports bioregional staple crops including blue corn, dry beans, amaranth, and grain sorghum. An average of 10 interns and residents eat 90% of a complete diet year round from the integrated forest garden, staple grain, and silvopasture systems on site.

Before - Dar’s Pilot Project
Dar’s Pilot Project
After - Regenerating 14 acres of degraed land
Regenerating 14 Acres of degraded land
The process

The Process

The successes of Elk Run Farm have grown into Drylands Agroecology Research, whose vision is to transform dry, abandoned landscapes into thriving ecosystems where humans, nature, and spirit may thrive.

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