Loping Coyote Farms was born in 2008 when Nathan’s parents unexpectedly called him to announce that they were ripping out their lawn. They could no longer stomach the absurd amount of water being absently thrown around every year to keep their cool season Kentucky blue grass green all the hot summer. Nathan had fantasized about that moment for years at that point, muttering some such remark to his lovingly tolerant parents when momentarily stopping by the old home as he moved from farm to farm learning all that he could about alternative agricultures. Nathan moved back home and, with the help of many wonderful people, began the work of designing and building a permaculture-designed food forest-based farm in his parents’ one-acre backyard. His parents had few goals in the beginning other than to use less water and to see what and how much food could be grown there. Nathan added his own goals of creating an experimental tree-based system adapted to this climate and full of diversity, a system that would get more and more beautiful and take twenty years to reach the first plateau of maturity and would be a seed, hopefully, for more of such beautiful, self-sustaining, productive systems in our region. His sister Sarah moved back to the house and Neil and Katie Bertrando moved in as well and there was suddenly quite the rocking little project swinging through the old folks’ once-quiet lives. Things have quieted down now, with the younger people moved on, but the site continues to evolve under the management of Loping Coyote Farms. Thus, Nathan and Neil have been working together for nearly ten years now, which they consider a great fortune and a lot of fun and perhaps a frequent frustration to many other people as they tend to go on and on forever from one task or subject to the next and follow all sorts of curiosities and take hours to get back on track with what they thought they were doing. Almost immediately they jumped into learning how to manage a nursery as part of Loping Coyote Farm because the site needed a lot of plants and because Nathan and Neil tend to push each other’s plant geek button so they couldn’t help but start propagating, which turns out to be an invaluable part of learning plants. They still both work together, along with a great crew of other local people interested in this type of system, in the maintenance of the Loping Coyote Farm site. They also continue to observe and reflect upon and respond to the site with shifting designs and new experimental plantings. Thus far, the steadily evolving and maturing nature of the project, with all the unexpected emergent properties as well as the designed relationships that sometimes actually happen, has been always rich and exciting, even if littered with enlightening failures!
If you look closely, you will see that these two photos were taken from roughly the same location at Loping Coyote Farm, the above photo at the beginning of the project of the lawn renovation, and the photo to the right five years later.
More on the Nursery Story:
The Loping Coyote Farms plant nursery began as a necessary project that allowed us to grow out a variety of plants for our own farm site. We wanted to use and experiment with many plants in our food forest systems that we either couldn’t find or that we could only find as small plugs which we wanted to baby in nice potting soil before setting them directly out into the unenviable soil of our compact clay pit of a farm. So we began buying and seeding plants and grafting trees and rooting cuttings. We quickly realized that we could just have a few more than we needed of these plants and offer them for sale to others who might also be looking around for these particular types of plants for their own similarly-intentioned systems. At this point, we are excited to continue our experiments in running a micro-nursery as a resource for the Great Basin region, and as a learning journey for ourselves! It is not a full-time job for us and we manage the nursery to fit within the many other happenings and interests in our lives. Thus, we aim to have one big annual spring sale every year and then also to attend the Great Basin Community Food Co-op spring seedling sale and that’s it. At that point in the season all the bare-root plants (most of our plants are bare-root for the spring sale) go in the ground and we concentrate on propagating and growing plants out to be ready again for the next spring. So don’t wait until the end of spring or summer to come looking for plants from us! And be aware that we offer a much wider range of woody perennials and perennial herbs at our spring bare-root sale; then we take what's left from that sale to the Co-op sale.