Meet the brains and brawn behind the mission. From our Leads, to our Core Team, and our Earthtenders, Drylands Agroecology Research has many hands to make light work.
The Eyes Behind the Vision
Dedicated to revitalizing ecosystems across the globe, Nick and Marissa are listening for the needs of their immediate community and Earth herself.
Drylands Agroecology Research has become an unlikely reality in the arid foothills of the Rocky Mountains and continues to focus on researching and documenting how it truly is possible to create abundance where there may be little to no water or hope.
Hailing from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Nick is a regenerative designer, farmer, and builder. Inspired by indigenous culture and ancient farming practices, he works passionately to design the future of living systems. In 2015, Nick began farming on a barren and desertified 14 acre parcel of land in rural north Boulder County, now called Elk Run Farm, and the pilot research project for Drylands Agroecology Research (DAR). Today, Nick is working to develop climate change solutions through regenerative farming, working with private and public landowners across Boulder County.
As a graduate of Environmental Studies and the Psychology of Health and Healing at Naropa University, Marissa is passionate about igniting the innate human-earth connection within herself and others. She runs Folk Farm at Elk Run, encouraging play and the importance of intuition. A trained Doula, skilled herbalist, and cultural advocate, Marissa continues to evolve through practicing ritual, embodiment, and communication with the unseen.
Azuraye grew up in Boulder, and has experience in entrepreneurship, cross-cultural communications, and nature-based people systems. She has returned to the land to help steward the test pilot for DAR’s “full stack” regenerative systems design & implementation at the Yellow Barn.
Director of Operations
James is an eco-social designer, applying the wisdom of nature to improve human systems. In over thirty years of creative problem solving in business, education, and media, James has kept his focus on helping organizations craft strategies to meet the needs of greater social and environmental wellbeing while reaching their goals for operational efficiency and profitability.
Amy’s interest in food systems was originally born out of a degree in cultural anthropology. After five years farming on the East Coast, Amy served on the board of a forming urban ecovillage, worked at Harlequin’s Gardens Nursery, and founded an ecological landscaping business. Amy is also a teacher and facilitator for the Boulder Permaculture Design Course, which she graduated from in 2018. She is deeply passionate about local history and ecology and how dryland agriculture can regenerate the land and communities of the arid west. Amy lives and homesteads in Niwot.
Community Outreach Director
Rachel is originally a desert being who grew up in the suburbs of Phoenix. She was introduced to sustainable agriculture during her two years of living in rural Panama, coffee farming and growing veggies with children. After another two years of working on food sovereignty with the Red Lake Nation in northern Minnesota, Rachel finds herself soaking up every permaculture-imbibed moment at Elk Run Farm. A sister, a daughter, a farmer, a coffee lover, and a cat mom, it is her utmost honor to be Farm Manager this agricultural season. Her favorite vegetable is broccoli.
After growing up in the Tennessee Valley, I moved up to Knoxville for college. Originally, I envisioned a future for myself inside a lab, researching the way the physical world works. Along the way, I pulled on the threads of sustainability and found myself studying science through the lens of other cultures. With newfound awareness of alternative education, I jumped headfirst into Ecoversity’s Permaculture Design Certification course. Leaning into those principles and ethics have helped me find connections and community.