Growing Against the Odds: High Alpine farming at Huidekoper Ranch originally appeared in the 2022 Best of Jackson Hole Guide Book. The interview with Brent Tyc was conducted in the winter of 2022.

Though the views around Jackson Hole are ripe with beauty, the same can’t always be said for fresh produce. The arid and rocky environment of the Tetons, as well as the cold winters, have historically made growing fruits and vegetables very difficult.

However, farmers and ranchers have worked hard to learn from the land and grow food and raise healthy animals despite the elemental barriers. One such farm is Huidekoper Ranch, located about one mile from the base of Teton Pass.

The Huidekoper (pronounced high-dee-coo-per) Ranch has been in the Huidekoper family since the 1950s when Virgina and Jim Huidekoper bought the land after they married. Preceded in death by her husband, Virginia passed away in 2010. Now, her granddaughter, Claire Fuller, and grandson, Nate Fuller, own the ranch along with a few other family members. Nate, Claire, and her husband Brent Tyc manage the property together, with Tyc taking the role of the ranch/farm manager. Although the farm’s first growing season was in 2016, the family has boarded horses for more than 30 years on the property’s 140 acres.

Regenerative growing

Tyc pulls from a variety of agriculture techniques, including the bio-intensive method and regenerative farming practices. Tyc follows the methodology of regenerative agriculture but applies it to the specific needs and challenges Huidekoper faces. Regenerative agriculture describes a variety of sustainable techniques, that when combined, mitigate climate change by growing plants and raising livestock in a way that moves carbon dioxide into the soil.

While Huidekoper doesn’t have livestock yet, they utilize a lot of the techniques from regenerative farming, such as the no-till methods, minimal inputs and making their own compost. They also use organic alfalfa meal and kelp meal.

“We have just one-third of an acre of growing space, so to maximize productivity on that [space] I set up a pretty detailed planting calendar each year. I basically never have soil that’s sitting empty,” says Tyc. “From the start of May to the end of May, I’ll fill up the beds, and then every bed will have something in it for the rest of the season.”

Rather than growing crops that need a full season to mature, Tyc focuses on fast-growing, quick-to-harvest crops that yield a high poundage per square foot, like salad mix, arugula, baby lettuce, mustard greens, radishes and baby turnips. They also grow microgreens in a shed and tomatoes in a larger greenhouse space near the outdoor plots.

“The greenhouse was a wedding gift from my in-laws,” Tyc said. It is now home to the tomato crop that includes beef steaks and saladettes. Almost all of the tomatoes Huidekoper harvests are sold to Calico.

In order to maximize every square inch of space, Tyc interplants in the beds, with crops like lettuce and bush beans, allowing him to get a harvest while the tomatoes are still growing.

High alpine growing

Seed starts are grown in this greenhouse shed before being planted or moved to the larger greenhouse Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

The growing season is short in Jackson Hole. Depending on the year, the last frost can occur between May and July, and the first frost can be as early as August.

“We’ve had frost every time of the year; that’s why I focus on the fast-growing hearty crops,” he said.

Those crops include arugula, baby lettuce, head lettuce, fennel, leaf broccoli, radishes and turnips. 

“Pretty much everything I grow can withstand a little frost for a night or two,” Tyc said. “The only two things I do outside that are kind of sensitive [to frost] is summer squash and zucchini.” 


While they follow their own set of strict farming guidelines and only use organic seeds and compost, Huidekoper isn’t certified organic and doesn’t plan to be.

“Organic agriculture can still be industrial agriculture,” Tyc said. “A 10,000-acre strawberry farm in California that’s certified organic isn’t really the solution to the problem. To me it’s all about small-scale local or regional production and building healthy, strong, resilient soil is way more important. You don’t try to grow a plant; you try to build the soil and let the plants do their thing.”

Brent’s favorite crop? Carrots.

“Something about our soil here in Wilson, the glacial till and this bench we are on grows amazing carrots,” he explained. “I think we have some of the best-tasting carrots around.”

While expansion always seems to be on Tyc’s mind, he is calculated and wants to maintain the quality of his crops in a space that is manageable for his small team. Two employees are moving on to the property this summer, opening up more opportunities for the small farm.

“I still have a vision to bring animals in, but it’s just a matter of time and making it happen,” Tyc said.

Huidekoper has the possibility to expand to five acres, an agreement that was arranged through the Jackson Hole Land Trust since the property is part of a conservation easement. But working more land means more hands will be needed and with the current workforce shortage across the valley, Tyc isn’t rushing into anything. His goal is to grow the farm at a manageable pace and create healthy soil that, in turn, grows delicious and fresh produce for the community. 

“People are starting to go with this small-scale agriculture system and to me, that’s more and more what the future of food needs to be,” Tyc said.

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.