Off the Grid: How Wylder Grew Out of an Apple Orchard

Photo: Jainee Dial

Life in West Sonoma County, California moves like molasses and is known for its alternative lifestyle and incredibly abundant landscape. Amongst the legendary hippies of old, are the creatives of today – the videographers, photographers, artists, educators, and entrepreneurs who balance their careers in proximity to San Francisco just an hour south, with their priorities for a rich, natural, life in the country. The landscape is an enchanting mix of redwood forest, coastal prairie, oak woodland, farm and pastureland, and the community makes up the most progressive local foodies, activists, urban farmer’s, artists and adventurers I’ve ever known.

For three years I carved out my home with a yurt and a man in the back of an old Gravenstein apple orchard on a 10-acre parcel we bought with two other couples. Our community grew into its name, “The Branch,” as we put cargo nets high up in the redwood trees for lounge parties, built gardens, trails, tended to the native plant communities, restored the old orchard, raised ducks, built an art studio, a wood-shop – even had a 40ft old, diesel school bus that doubled as a guest house and party bus. My office was across the street at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center – a short, pedal-less downhill mountain bike ride away, if I worked it just right.

Photo: Jerry Dodrill

I met Jainee Dial on a beach at the mouth of the Russian River, aptly named ‘driftwood’ for all of its incredible structures built by locals over the years with the washed up wooden resources. If you picture what a bunch of pirate ships would look like half-wrecked and reconstructed into bars and lookouts, that’s the scene.

Jainee was moving to West County for love, and was a freelance web designer and outdoorswoman; a perfect fit for our bohemian adventure community. We bonded instantly over our love for the mountains amongst all of our salt water loving friends. She lived nearby, on an equally beautiful shared property, comprised of climbers who balanced their love for growing food with as many trips to Yosemite as possible.

Photo: Jainee Dial

Over the years, our love lives changed and we ended up together – best friends and adventure buds, dreaming up an idea to blend our environmental ethos with our outdoor pursuits, fundamentally nested in community: Wylder. We saw what it meant for people to live in community-based, land-based environments, and how it nurtured our creative endeavors and love and support of each other.

West County and life in the country became the incubator for Wylder’s purpose and values. We watched how our outdoor lives and daily lives blended in the rural landscape, and coupled with the desire to live simply, changed what products we needed.

From this abundant ecosystem, grew our ethics to be a mission-driven company, and a benefit corporation that partners with both existing non-profits, and ‘everyday stewards,’ because this is what our community is filled with – people taking action for what they believe in, and living their priorities.

We lived far-out; outside the buzz of traffic in order to listen in to our visions, and ourselves, and far outside society’s conventions, carving our own paths to live the alternative lifestyles we believe in.

Photo: Lindsey Elliott

Lindsey Elliott is a strategist for ecological and social change, and a life-long outdoorswoman from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She is the co-founder of Wylder, an online marketplace and benefit corporation for the modern outdoorswoman. She specializes in designing and implementing regenerative systems based on ecological models for education programs, communities, and businesses.

This content was originally produced for RANGE Magazine.

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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