Hidden Villa

Hidden Villa's mission is to inspire a just and sustainable future through our programs, land and legacy. As part of Hidden Villa's commitment to social justice, we provide over $350,000 on scholarship and partnership support. Guiding Principles We deliver a wide variety of relevant educational experiences that teach respect for the environment and for each other. We encourage program participation from diverse communities. We engage diverse voices of the community in the design, implementation, delivery, and evaluation of programs and services. We build alliances, internally and externally, between people, programs, and diverse communities to optimize resources and deepen our im...
Oct 21, 2015

Harvest Festival with the CSA of Mountain View

At 10am last Saturday, a school bus arrived in our CSA parking lot, marking the beginning of our 6th annual Harvest Festival at the farm! The Harvest Festival is a half-day event that we organize to celebrate Hidden Villa's unique relationship with the clients of the Community Services Agency of Mountain View (CSAMV). The Harvest Festival is the Hidden Villa farm crew's annual opportunity to connect directly with 80 CSAMV clients of all ages who share in harvest activities, animal visits, and a community meal in our outdoor kitchen. 

CSAMV is a wraparound social services agency that provides clients living on low incomes with a variety of programs including rent assistance, senior services, a food pantry, cooking and nutrition classes, and prepared meals. With the support of grants and donations, Hidden Villa gives 25% of our annual harvest to CSAMV. The agency in turn is able to distribute the freshest local produce directly to clients, improving their ability to meet their families' nutritional needs on a limited budget.

For many CSAMV families, Saturday was their first visit Hidden Villa and a unique opportunity to meet the farm crew and help harvest food that will come back to the CSAMV pantry. The day began with an introduction to our farm, our organic practices, and our crew. Jason took the group on a tour of our lower fields, stopping to talk about the importance of diversity on the farm and about how we’re managing during this prolonged drought. CSAMV clients come from a wide range of backgrounds, so Jason paused frequently to allow the group’s interpreters to translate his thoughts into Spanish and Chinese. The kids loved visiting the five rowdy teenage pigs that share the lower fields with us, and spirits were high as everyone worked together to harvest close to a ton of winter squash. HV staff from other departments volunteered to take the group on a tour of the goats, chickens, cows, and sheep up-ranch, and the day culminated in a shared farm-to-table lunch of smoky vegetable soup, oven-baked flatbread, coleslaw, and fresh-pressed apple cider. Yum!

The event was a huge success, not just because everyone left smiling and well-fed, but because 80 CSAMV clients now know that Hidden Villa is their farm. Many families expressed an interest in coming back to visit, and we distributed free day passes to help folks feel welcome in this wonderful community space. For the farm crew, the Harvest Festival was a chance to put faces and human stories on our twice-weekly produce donations—and a reminder that, as CSAMV’s website says, “hardship can come at any time and knows no age limit.” We are humbled to be able support our neighbors in a time of need and to celebrate with them the incredible bounty of a successful farm season. THANK YOU for helping us make this partnership, and successful event, possible. 

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Aug 11, 2015

Hidden Villa and Downtown College Prep

DCP students visit with Vida the cow
DCP students visit with Vida the cow

The GROW Youth Leadership Program is a partnership Hidden Villa has established with Downtown College Prep (DCP), located in Alum Rock, San Jose where students are 98% Latino and 90% low-income. 41% of parents have less than a high school education and 4% of parents have a college degree, while 95% of DCP students are matriculated in colleges around the country after graduation.

The goal of this partnership with DCP is to get youth out of their everyday life; having new experiences and building intergenerational community in a learning environment that promotes personal agency, social justice and environmental stewardship.

This past year, DCP students joined us at three different points, building team morale on the high and low ropes course, fostering compassion through farm and animal care, and increasing courage and confidence on day and night hikes. “I liked when we had our groups and worked together to feed the chickens and milk the cow.” Another student told us, “After Hidden Villa, I try more new things, even if I’m scared.” It is a success when students take risks, challenge themselves to try new experiences, and work collaboratively to achieve their goals. During the 2015-2016 school year we will continue and grow this program with both a Leadership and a Science overnight retreat.

Offering youth opportunities that buttress their academic knowledge with hands-on life experiences is crucial to their ability to be agents of change in our community. “Hidden Villa gave me the courage to come out of my comfort zone and taught me to try to be a leader. I now feel confident to help people and to encourage them when they aren’t having such a good day.” We are excited to partner with you to create experiences for our local youth that serve them as whole students, preparing them for their future and our shared future as a community.  

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Jul 8, 2015

Meet the Farmers

Jen shows off a Strawberry, while Ali harvests!
Jen shows off a Strawberry, while Ali harvests!

We enter into this season as a genuine family farm and want to introduce you to our team. Our Agriculture Manager, Jason, and Horiculturalist, Lanette, are joined this year by a passionate crew of future female farmers. Ali is our new journeyman farmer. Ali grew up in the East Bay and has honed an interest and experience in farming practice in Oregon. She worked for several years managing a farming and farm education program for participants at the Oregon Food Bank in Portland. Our first year interns are Jen and Elisa. Jen is originally from Minnetonka, Minnesota and has developed an interest in farming through her work at the student farm at Middlebury and in an Americorps position at the Urban Roots Garden Classroom in Reno, Nevada. Elisa is originally from Southern California and has developed an interest in farming while attending Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. She worked for several years on the organic farm at Cal Poly as well as experiences WWOOFing in Australia and working at Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport.

 The farm crew strives to provide our partners and neighbors at the CSA of Mountain View with diverse, colorful produce from week to week and throughout the season: red strawberries, beets, tomatoes, peppers, rhubarb, and watermelon; orange/yellow carrots, apricots, chard, sweet corn, and pumpkins; green tomatillos, zucchini, kale, and lettuce; purple eggplant, blackberries, and plums; white/brown potatoes, garlic, onions, leeks, and pears. And that’s the short list! This partnership allows us to offer some of our best produce to folks in our community that may be temporarily down on their luck and seeking ways to feed their family good, healthy food. We are proud of this partnership and enjoy watching it grow through the seasons!

Thank you for supporting this work and our new farm crew. Every Wednesday our farm crew hosts a volunteer opportunity from 9:30am-12:30pm with a community potluck to follow. Please come and join us if you have some time and want to meet the crew.

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