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. 

Collaborators & Affiliates 

  • Avery Ellis ~ Avery Ecological Design

  • Richard Pecoraro ~ MASA Seed Foundation​​​

  • Jimm Stack ~ Mycologist

Kipp Nash
Regenerative Farmer

I'm a Colorado native, born and raised in Fort Collins. The first memories I have of growing food was planting carrots and radishes in my back yard, harvesting beans and peas off the trellace, and pulling rhubarb stalks to eat with sugar. I also remember foraging for wild asparagus in the dry lake bed near our house and plucking sour cherries off of our cherry tree for a penny a piece. 

 

My agricultural pursuits have taken me from Crested Butte, CO, where I apprenticed on my first organic farm, to Mexico and Central America, the Shambhala retreat center in Red Feather Lakes, and the Boulder area. Between 2005 and 2010 I ran a unique "urban agriculture" project in south Boulder named Community Roots. We farmed backyards, frontyards, church properties, anywhere we could get our hands in the soil. I called the project "Neighborhood Supported Agriculture" and it truly was an empowered neighborhood project.

 

Currently, I reside in Nederland and I've spent my last 5 summers helping to coordinate the Nederland Farmers Market, which has been steadily growing into a very special community event. I'm very excited to be part of the Benevolence Orchard team and look forward to growing food, community, medicine, and a spirit of co-creation with this land. 

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