Living Well In Yucca Valley: Life On A Holistic Horse Rescue Ranch with Nicole Granato
A few years ago, we ran a series of features on women’s health with wellness contributor, Nicole Granato. Nicole had taken a natural approach to healing her own PCOS and went on to champion natural options for treating the condition for women everywhere.
We lost touch when Nicole got married, pregnant with her first child (a testament to her wellness efforts!) and moved to London. In a ‘second life’ sort of twist, we recently reconnected with Nicole and her young family when they moved back to California, where they were giving a sweet herd of horses their second life nestled out in the Yucca desert. They also just opened a new general store for their community that has our name written all over it (figuratively speaking).
The Holistic Ranch is the name of both the horse ranch and the well-curated store and we asked Nicole to bring us up to speed on all of it…
Name: Nicole Granato
Business: Holistic Ranch Natural Grocer and General Store
Why yucca valley?
We found this amazing space we fell in love with on Craigslist one day. We had been looking for something for about two years and never found anything that just felt right. To be honest, we didn’t really know what we were going to do on the land, but we knew it would be something! We signed the lease and had six months to figure it out.
yucca in 3 words: Historic, iconic, exciting.
Previously you were here in LA, then London – what’s been the biggest adjustment?
Yes! We have taken a few adventures in the last years. When we got pregnant with our son we had an amazing opportunity in London and decided to let life take us on that adventure. We chose to come home after a year and focus on building out our dream project! We moved from LA to the desert in 2018 and Holistic Ranch took form.
I think our biggest adjustment has been finding a way to do everything with no help and being full-time parents and business owners. It’s a lot of juggle, but we wouldn’t change it!
Tell us how the horse rescue began. Almost by accident?
The weekend we moved to Joshua Tree my husband and i went to look for a truck. On our way, we drove past a horse barn and stopped in. I’d grown up with horses and have a deep love and connection to them.
What we saw horrified us. We’d stumbled into a race horse breeding barn and our hearts just broke. We met a horse (now named Chief) as he was about to be sold off to a slaughter truck and we bought him from them. In the past three years, we’ve now saved about 30 horses, all of who were slaughter bought before we found them!
What’s the biggest lesson the horses have taught you thus far?
Resilience, forgiveness and patience.
Best part of the horse rescues? There is truly no greater joy in rescuing horses than watching them heal and begin to thrive. A few of our horses have had no trust in humans, which is totally normal and fair, but when they do begin to trust us and open their hearts to us it is truly magic.
The toughest part:The ones we have lost or the ones we have had to put down. We had a horse die in our arms and it is something i will never forget! Every time we save a new horse, I feel like that horse we lost is somehow a part of it. It was our first big save and we took in nine horses at one time.
It was really really hard. I feel grateful that he got the love he did and that he made it to us to pass peacefully.
How do you recommend animal lovers support these kinds of horses and this type of work?
I would say volunteer at a barn, help with chores and any work that needs to be done for the horses. If you see a fundraiser set up tp save horses, donate if you can! Anything even the tiniest bit helps.
Love that you’ve created a shop in what is likely an *actual* food desert. What’s the mission behind the shop?
We have some food options here, but nothing hits the quality that we are bringing to this community now. We are a regenerative and organic-focused store supporting as many small farms and small businesses as possible.
When I was curating the store, I wanted it to be a place people could really trust. There are so many great brands in the “wellness world”, but so much of it is good marketing. I wanted to create a space that would focus on the tradition of holistic living, something I grew up with and feel is missing from our wellness industry today.
what are a few of the most cool products you stock? Hmm, so many! We also just launched our own natural shampoo and conditioner that we sell in the store.
Christy Dawn‘s Farm to closet line, Spring Sunrise Biodynamic honey and ghee, Zenbunny Biodynamic Coffee & Incense, Alexandre Farms Regenerative Milk, Fauna Regenerative Certified Skin balm, Dark Horse condiments.
What’s next for you, the store and the horses?
We are really working on growing the brand and hope to open another location in the near future. Our goal is really to educate people on the importance of not just knowing where their food comes from, but on the health of the soil, the people growing it and the operations in place.
We want to help people shop with more consideration; are you supporting a company that cares about our planet? Or are you supporting a company that is conventionally farming your food, underpaying employees and continuing the system that is destroying our health and our planet?