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Roots & Branches ~ Core Team & Affiliates

Our brief history: In 2015, Wesley Swartz founded Benevolence building our first orchard using permaculture design with collaborator, Avery Ellis. Over the next five years, we've grown our polyculture through two additional orchard installations and a diverse planting of perennial medicinal herbs, seasonal vegetables, and a combination of annual and perennial cut flowers. 

Our mission is to create a diverse orchard and propagation nursery of locally adapted heritage varieties of fruits, medicinal herbs and flowers, using Organic, Permaculture and Biodynamic agricultural practices. Benevolence aims to invigorate our fruit growing capacity throughout Boulder County and to provide an educational curriculum covering a wide array of classes and workshops for the community, where we invite all to learn, contribute and engage. 

To read more about our permaculture and biodynamic practices, 

Wesley Swartz
Founder, Manager & Operator

From a very young age I was completely immersed in homesteading; growing food, saving seeds, building natural structures, hunting, gathering, processing, and preserving. 

I then felt propelled to seek and understand diversity and symbiosis through biodynamics, organic orcharding, and simple design. I studied organic and holistic farming for two years in Spain and Italy. This later lead me to horticulture as a profession once I returned to the US. I have 21 years of experience as a heritage fruit tree orchardist. I am passionate about preserving regional heritage apple varieties, growing food simply and providing a space for holistic education. 


Along with managing and operating Benevolence, I'm designing orchard polycultures, teaching courses and empowering others.

Melissa Balizet
Community Herbalist

I am a wild woman gardener and herbal medicine maker who is passionate about creating sustainable connections between communities, plants, and local ecosystems. 


I have over 22 years of experience working with herbal medicine, having received training in Western herbal medicine through the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies and apprenticeships with local Colorado herbalists.


   Over the last 10 years, I earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and an MA in Environmental Leadership. I’ve been teaching, facilitating, and community building in fields ranging from ecological restoration, permaculture urban gardening/farming, and Western herbal medicine to childbirth, storytelling, and T’ai Chi Ch’uan.

Tyler Ellison
Horticulturist & Brewer

I have lived in Colorado my whole life and my family has always enjoyed the outdoors. Horticulture and the natural sciences captured my interest at an early age. My interest has flourished into becoming a student of Mother Nature and a steward of the land.


I have been practicing horticulture since 2004 and graduated in 2011 with a BS in Organic Food Crop Production and Viticulture from Colorado State University. Throughout college I followed a strong passion in fruit production as well as beer/ wine production and fermentation. However, for almost 10 years I worked as a plant health manager at Greening Up Landscape designing, installing and maintaining commercial and residential landscapes.  In 2015 I began working in the commercial cannabis industry, most of which was spent at Organic Alternatives as the head cultivator. After 4 years of commercial indoor crop production I was ready to step into a commercial orchard. I have been at Benevolence since spring of 2019 and offer my experience and passion in specialty food crop production with regards to fruit, greenhouse systems, compost and tea brewing as well as fermentation sciences. 

Guest Instructors & Co-instructors

Jimm Stack

Jimm Stack was the lead mycologist for 100th Monkey Mushrooms, one of the nation’s top producers of DIY mushroom kits and mushroom spawn.


With over 18 years of growing experience, Jimm has produced tens of thousands of pounds of mushroom mycelium from a wide variety of species and has developed techniques to simplify the process for the at-home mushroom grower.


He is currently consulting on a variety of mycoremediation projects and bringing the healing properties of the fungal kingdom to the world.

Sage Coughlin
Community Herbalist

Somewhere between stardust and childhood, I fell in awe of the natural world. I found my love for growing food and herbs as a young girl. This passion has sustained and grounded me into adulthood in a continued state of awe.

I am a vitalist herbalist, trained and certified by the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism. Through my studies, I have explored the realms of folk and clinical herbalism, nutrition, flower essences, physiology, and botany. I received my certificate of permaculture design and regenerative systems through Permaculture Institute in Taos, NM. I have worked as an organic gardener throughout Boulder County for several years.

Currently, I am exploring the convergence of herbalism and permaculture/biodynamic farming. I am dedicated to sharing the knowledge of earth work with others to empower, inspire, and heal.

Collaborators & Affiliates 

  • Avery Ellis ~ Avery Ecological Design

  • Richard Pecoraro ~ MASA Seed Foundation​​​