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.
When are tomatoes tastiest? What is rhubarb season? Who grows my cucumbers? We are hungry, and not only for nutritious, affordable, ethically-grown foods. We crave connection to the natural rhythms and hardworking humans that bring these foods to our tables. Eating with the seasons—whether through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, a local farmers’ market, or even the CSA of Mountain View—provides an intimate connection to nature’s rhythms and a deeper appreciation of the true value of our food.
As organic farmers, the Hidden Villa CSA crew is reminded every day of our connection to, and dependence upon, the cycles of nature. Even though we farmers know to expect them, we’re awed every year by the subtle signs that mark the changing light and the coming of a new season. As winter draws to a close, we celebrate the budding of the plum trees, knowing that the rest of our orchard will soon follow. We rejoice in the first transplanting of zinnias and sunflowers knowing that we will soon be surrounded by their beauty. We delight in the tiny tomato plants emerging in our greenhouse, our imagination drifting to summer fruit fresh from the vine.
Seasonal eating and flower appreciation is a practice in enjoying the precious uniqueness of food and blooms in their proper place and time. It provides us with the joyful challenge of stretching our palates to accommodate what is growing here and now. It rewards us with an ever-changing menu to hold our interest. In a practical sense, eating with the seasons is also more flavorful because crops are harvested at the peak of ripeness, more affordable because prices are lowest at the height of each crop’s season, more nutritious because crops are more full of nutrients at the peak of freshness, and better for the environment because crops don’t need to travel across oceans or continents to get to your plate. Whether you’re a foodie philosopher or a culinary pragmatist, eating seasonally will repay your efforts with an undeniable richness of flavors and connections.
Thank you for helping us provide others in our community with seasonal, healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables. We are proud to partner with the CSA of Mountain View and supporters like you in making good food and connection a priority in our work,
The Healthy Food, Healthy Families program, now in its eighth year, is a vital partnership that provides the clients of CSA of Mountain View with a variety of fresh, seasonal, local organic produce. Twice weekly, Hidden Villa’s Agricultural Crew harvests fresh vegetables and fruits from our organic farm and donates them to the Food and Nutrition Center at the CSA of Mountain View. This year, we provided less than we typically would as a result of the drought, but we're excited for the learning that this allowed for our future.
One important lesson that we learned through this experience is that our stone fruit trees do not need as much water as we typically give them. They actually produced stronger, more intense flavors this year because of our dry farming. This coming year we’re excited to offer more stone fruits to the CSA of Mountain View as a result of this learning.
Our farm crew utilized this chance to learn about our land, procedures, and opportunities for growth. We currently use a drip irrigation process, a highly water-wise way of watering the crops in long, slow doses of water. This year, with the risk of running out of water especially high, our farm manager bought newer technology for our drip irrigation system. These timers allow the farm crew to be even more exact about the timing and duration of the water release. This new system of watering will be implemented in future years, allowing us to better steward the water, while maintaining the quality and quantity of production.
Although this year was challenging, we are proud of the farm crew here at Hidden Villa who have found a way to see the bright side of things.
Thank you for supporting us in continuing to grow as an educational organization even through the dry spell. To hoping for more rain in 2015!
Happy New Year.
As the season changes around here at Hidden Villa, we look back at the harvest that we were able to produce for our community. This season we donated 3,928 pounds to the Community Services Agency of Mountain View, a partnership that we are proud to continue. For over 50 years, Community Services Agency has been providing vital social services for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. They provide a safety net so independence and self-sufficiency can be restored and maintained. Clients may be a young, working poor family or an elderly person looking for companionship.
It has been a challenging season throughout California for farmers and farm workers. The drought has greatly impacted our ability to grow food. We have been conscious of our water usage and are always exploring ways to be more water-wise. We are excited to have been able to, in the face of a drought, continue to provide fresh produce to our low-income neighbors. LaDrea Clark, the Nutrition and Health Education Assistant, passed on this message to us about our partnership. "I know that clients love, love, love the fresh produce. We have the busiest days when they know we have fresh produce. The clients definitely come on produce days. Thank you all for everything that you do and all the beautiful fresh pesticide free produce."
We are so grateful for your support in helping us offer fresh, healthy, local food to our community members and neighbors.
The most successful growing strategies and the best farming practices are ones that are adaptable. As much as an engineering mindset can project into scaling up operations to larger sizes with greater assumptions of efficiency, the reality of agriculture is that we are producing food in a dynamic and ever-changing environment that will never conform to a single, uniform, repeatable method for very long. I feel grateful for practicing a kind of farming that does not rely too heavily on assumptions about weather and climate, pest control, and disease problems. Invariably things change and the assumptions lead to enormous crop losses.
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