“I never planned on inheriting any money so I didn’t set myself up around needing it,” he said.
Instead he used an inheritance to buy a lot on the corner of 100 West and Walnut Lane. He also noticed a neighbor’s excess irrigation water was flowing onto the land.
“I thought, that would make a nice garden,” he said.
Nethercott had been an environmentalist all his life, he said, and envisioned the then-empty corner lot as a “rallying point for environmental issues [and] social issues.” So he donated the lot to the Resiliency Hub, a Moab-based nonprofit previously known as Canyonlands Community Recycling.
With Nethercott’s funds and volunteer labor organized by the Resiliency Hub, the lot has been transformed into the CommuniTea Garden. The Resiliency Hub manages the garden and hosts monthly “Tea and a Topic” discussions. Fruit trees, herbs and native plants fill the lot. Rock-lined swales direct irrigation water, donated by neighbor James Hoffman Jr., through the garden then back to Hoffman’s property.
As a condition of the donation, Nethercott stipulated that the land not be used for profit and that it remains a public space.
“If it was about profit, I would have sold it and ran off with a wad of cash. If I’m not going to make money off it then nobody is. Any money that we generate just goes right back into the property or one of our causes,” such as environmental education, he said. “Theoretically a hundred years from now, you could still sit here [in the garden]. That’s my hope.”
His has not been “a lifetime of charitable contributions,” Nethercott said. “Pretty much a life of self-indulgence ... I didn’t really turn into a philanthropist until now but it’s never too late.”
The garden gives something back as well, keeping him in touch with younger people and giving him a reason to get out; it’s an opportunity to meet interesting new people, he said.
Jeff Adams, the board president of the Resiliency Hub, said it is always a pleasure to work with Nethercott, who has been generous with both his time and his resources.
“He’s just a really, really great guy … caring, visionary, has just years of experience of how to build things and do things right,” Adams said. “It’s been really good having his perspective on things and also he’s just an awesome role model of putting one’s time and resources where their values are … He’s really put a lot forward to benefit the community and promote good, healthy environments and landscaping in the Moab area.”
Before getting involved with the garden, Nethercott “led a renaissance life,” he said. “I’ve done everything.”
He first came to Moab as part of a helitack fire crew for the Bureau of Land Management. He worked as an airplane mechanic and has building and carpentry experience. He once flew to Hawaii and lived in a truck for four months, he said. For ten years, he lived in a bus that now resides at the CommuniTea Garden. The Resiliency Hub eventually hopes to turn the bus, which features detailed interior woodworking done by Nethercott himself, into a small kitchen or tearoom.
“I was thoroughly dedicated to the prospect of not getting a career ... went to college on and off for years carefully avoiding getting anything that you’d call a career,” he said. “I didn’t want to spend my life doing all one thing so I did a whole bunch of things.”
Nethercott loves to travel and tries to get around without leaving a significant carbon footprint, he said. He has also been a boater all his life.
“I’ve been down the Colorado numerous times this year, and the Dolores,” he said. “It’s a nice way to access the wilderness without having to pay attention too close. If you wreck it’s just you and the river ... I find that it’s a nice way to relate to nature. I really enjoy that.”