Elk Run Farm, USA
Elk Run Farm is the pilot farm for non-profit Drylands Agroecology Research, situated on previously dry and degraded fields in Longmont, Colorado.
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About

Elk Run is the pilot farm for Drylands Agroecology Research (DAR) non-profit. It is situated on previously dry and degraded fields in the rolling hills and grasslands of Longmont, Colorado. This region was once inhabited by native peoples of the Ute, Cheyenne-Arapaho, Comanche, Apache, Hopi, Dine, and other tribes. Once settlers from other continents arrived in the 1800s, their unsustainable agricultural practices quickly degraded the once fertile grasslands. When Elk Run Farm began in 2015, the topsoil had been visibly degraded, and little to no biodiversity remained. Overgrazing, non-sustainable land management, extractive productions, and dry conditions were to blame. The prevailing opinion was that there was not enough well water on-site to restore the land to a farmable state. Seven years later, techniques the founders used to regenerate the land became the core methodologies of DAR. These include water-harvesting earthworks, dryland agroforestry, intensive livestock management, and drought-resilient grain crop trials and breeding. DAR is scaling its implementations through partnerships with landowners and developing a research program to track how well the landscapes are sequestering carbon, retaining moisture, supporting biodiversity, and producing viable agricultural yields. Elk Run Farm aims to restore over 1,000 hectares of land within the next decade so that these lands can once again teem with the spirit they used to hold.

 

Drylands Agroecology Research (DAR) grew out of Elk Run Farm, an improbable experiment in restoring 15-acres of deeply degraded land into a farmable state with little to no water. Since then, DAR has partnered with landowners to dig 15,000 feet of contour swale earthworks to passively rehydrate landscapes and planted 5,000 fruit and nurse trees in the basins of these swales (85% survival rate with no irrigation). DAR is committed to using regenerative land design to regenerate human communities and hosts over 1,000 people annually through early childhood education, tours, permaculture design classes, and food sovereignty initiatives.

Achievements

In addition to their success with tree planting, Elk Run Farm has transformed a compact gravel parking lot into 5” of rich, water-retentive topsoil using intensive rotations of organic materials, pigs, chickens, and crops. Increasing yields of Hopi blue corn, Hopi black beans, amaranth, and grain sorghum have been observed in this revitalized soil, with only spring irrigation. The team has achieved 90% food self-sufficiency for the household and interns. They have collected soil data that has revealed increased water retention, carbon sequestration, and microbial life in all different applications as compared to the adjacent open land. Bridges have been built with local Indigenous communities by supplying Community Supported Agriculture shares to Indigenous elders through Spirit of the Sun and supporting land regeneration with Shoshone tribal members. Elk run works in partnership with Drylands Agroecology Research, Y on Earth Community (NGO), and Meta Carbon Organic Farm.

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Activities that need your support ​

Water retention
Tree Planting
Bioremediation
Compost making
Community building
Fire prevention
Restoration of livelihoods
Soil restoration
Erosion prevention
Regenerative entrepreneurialism
Restoration Holidays
Natural Building

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