Hidden Villa Now
IntroductionAfter the Duvenecks opened their land to the public for future generations to enjoy, they reduced their involvement in Hidden Villa’s day-to-day operations. The nonprofit Hidden Villa Trust – consisting of a Board of Trustees, Executive Directors, staff, and volunteers – assumed management of the property, sustaining and strengthening the existing programs, maintaining and improving the property (as well as building new sustainable buildings), and establishing innovative programs. Throughout this process, Hidden Villa has held the vision of the Duvenecks while responding to the changing needs within our community. This gift of land comes with a cost. In order to be accessible to all folks, regardless of their ability to pay, Hidden Villa asks for donations from individuals and institutions to carry out our legacy.
Summer Camps and Youth DevelopmentThe Hidden Villa Summer Camp today is a strong, flourishing program. Attendance has grown to 1,100 campers annually. Hidden Villa offers eight different camp programs that range from day camps for the youngest visitors to the two-week “Bay to Sea” hiking and camping adventure for teens, creating a progressive learning experience. The Camp Youth Leadership Training program empowers young campers to be youth leaders at Camp and elsewhere. Many campers return year after year, some even graduating and joining the Hidden Villa staff. We emphasize a multicultural experience at summer camp, striving for a diverse camp staff that reflects our campers. Each session offers songs and games to reinforce different educational themes, campfires, hikes, farm animal and garden based activities, cooking, evening strolls, reflections and the opportunity to create and share a wish for the world – all in an atmosphere of fun and friendship.
Recently, Hidden Villa has been creating new programs that engage older youth beyond our Summer Camps. These Youth Development programs are targeted towards 7th to 12th grade youth and include activities such as Youth Leadership Intensives, Service Learning Projects, Food and Farm Justice Days, and a summer Farm Academy.
Environmental Education Programs for SchoolsHidden Villa’s Environmental Education Program (HVEEP) has grown to over 22,000 participants annually. It is supported by Hidden Villa staff and over fifty volunteer guides from the community. This single day experience provides young students (preschool though first grade) hands-on experiences with our farm animals and garden. Older students (second grade and up) hike through the wilderness and discover the distinctions between wild and domesticated spaces as well as the impact our choices have on each other. School groups have an additional option to stay overnight at the Hostel for a deeper experience and may even have the opportunity to help with evening farm chores. Teachers are encouraged to use Hidden Villa as a lab and springboard for multiple aspects of their curriculum, including creative writing, science, ecology, and ecology. Special curricula has been developed to assist teachers in expanding this one day experience into a month of activities that meet California State Academic Standards.
Hidden Villa has extended its school programs in recent years to place Hidden Villa teachers off-site, directly in schools. These off-site teachers provide garden-based education and science enrichment activities during and after school.
Public ProgramsWhereas many of Hidden Villa’s programs are tailored towards children and youth, Hidden Villa’s Public Programs were developed so that learning opportunities would be available for al ages. These public programs feature workshops, tours, classes, and performances. Programs vary widely, offering everything from Japanese drumming and milking cows to guided bird hikes. Members of the public can sign up to reserve Hidden Villa for a birthday party or learn about diverse cultures by baking breads from around the world. Annually, these programs serve over 9000 participants.
Sustainable AgricultureHidden Villa has established itself as a pioneer in organic farming and a leader in sustainable farming education. Our emphasis on farming connects us with the sources of our food, cultivates an appreciation for the bounty of our land, and provides our community with locally raised organic produce, meat, and eggs.
The produce from Hidden Villa’s farm is distributed to three main outlets; roughly 60% of the produce goes to members of Hidden Villa’s Community Supported Agriculture program and 25% is given to our low-income neighbors and distributed through the Community Services Agency located in Mountain View. The last 15% of our produce is sold at the Los Altos Farmers Market and is used by our education programs. Hidden Villa’s meat and eggs are also sold at the Los Altos Farmer’s Market and directly off the farm.
The Agriculture Program’s educational components are used to reinforce and provide context for our Environmental Education Programs for schools, the Summer Camps and Youth Development activities, and Public Programs. They are also an important element in our Volunteer Program. The most in depth agricultural education is provided for our 12 month residential interns, four of which are specifically launching their careers as farmers. Our interns go on to start their own small-scale organic farms are critical to our evolving food system.
InternsThese talented, enthusiastic young environmentalists play a major role at Hidden Villa. They live at Hidden Villa for either one or two years. They gain practical experience, a connection to the land and to each other, and more structured learning from formal classes. Graduates of Hidden Villa’s internship program now reside all over the United States, pursuing careers in organic farming, education, environmental stewardship, and social justice. Hidden Villa's internship program fulfills our mission and nourishes the next generation of world-changers. To see where our interns are now and understand how this experience has helped shape their professional trajectory please check out Hidden Villa’s Intern Facebook group.