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Visitor Services is here for YOU!

We’re always striving to make Hidden Villa more welcoming and engaging. Regardless of how often you come or participate in our programs, we want you to feel at home when you visit. As a result, we’ve made some changes and have dedicated staff and volunteer energy towards evaluating and responding to what you want from Hidden Villa. We’re excited to announce three new programs to enhance your Hidden Villa experience… Self-Guided Tours, Pop-Up Programs, and Weekend Ambassadors!

Self-Guided Tours:

2016-10 Easy Hike.pngIn an effort to share more of Hidden Villa with every visitor, we will be making a handful of self-guided tours available on our website and at our welcome kiosk. Our first tour will be the Living History Tour which will walk you through Hidden Villa’s history of stewardship. It begins with the land’s native inhabitants and moves up through the Franciscan Missionaries, stagecoach stop proprietors, the visionary Duveneck Family and Hidden Villa’s transition to a nonprofit organization led by a Board and professional staff.

The Living History Tour will be available to all visitors with a mobile device through our partnership with Easy2Hike. Easy2Hike is an exciting new company working to connect park managers with visitors to empower outdoor adventures. You can use the app with devices running on iOS or Android and then download the Living History Tour for offline use. The app can run without an internet connection and relies on GPS to guide you through the tour. Download the app, try it out, let us know what you think, and stay tuned for new tours being added over the next few years!

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Pop-Up Programs:

PopUp_SolarOven.PNGSince many of you drop by during the weekends with your family and friends without having pre-registered to join our programs, and since there are about 20,000 people just like you, we are now offering pop-up programs every Saturday and Sunday, from September through May! Each pop-up will be FREE and run for two hours between the peak visiting hours of 10 am to 1 pm. We’ll post these pop-ups at least a day in advance on our calendar of events and occasionally on our Facebook page. So far this season, we’ve had pop-ups including a Solar Oven Apple Bake and Sherlock Bones. Drop on by and see what new fun we’ve cooked up each weekend!

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Weekend Ambassadors:

2016-10 Meryl Udang.jpgFor many years you have come to Hidden Villa during the weekends and our staff have been so busy running programs, we haven’t been available to properly welcome you and share the latest Hidden Villa news. That’s why one of the enhancements that we’re most excited about is the formal addition of Weekend Ambassadors.  Weekend Ambassadors are volunteers with a wide range of knowledge about Hidden Villa; some of them are newer to Hidden Villa but are very excited to help out other newcomers; some have 70 years of institutional knowledge and were involved at the same time that Josephine and Frank founded our Summer Camps (in 1945)! They are wonderful people and they are very excited to share their institutional knowledge and love of everything Hidden Villa. Ambassadors will station themselves at our information kiosk during peak visiting hours every Saturday and Sunday. The team of Ambassadors is being led by Meryl Urdang (pictured right) and supported by Visitor Services Intern, Emily Bell. Please come by and say hello whether you visit once a year or every weekend!

…and, we’re actively recruiting and building our team of Weekend Ambassadors. It’s fun, easy, and rewarding. If you are interested in learning more, please contact We'd love to have you join the team!

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Writing Contest Winners!


Thank you to everyone who participated in this writing contest.  We encourage participants to continue writing, visiting the farm, and sharing your voices with your friends, family, and the community. Keep an eye out for more writing contests in the near future. We had a lot of fun with this and hope you did, too. Happy reading and writing!


The Hidden Villa Oasi

By Mihika B., 8th grade

My mother, sister, and I arrived at Hidden Villa at nine o clock on a Saturday morning, for sheep shearing. It was a sunny day, with a few clouds, so quite chilly in the shade. We came prepared with jackets, backpacks, and snacks, but didn’t expect to stay until twelve o clock. After all, how long can you watch a sheep being sheared?


We followed a sheep signpost, and came upon a little field, with a crowd of onlookers surrounding the fence. As we neared the field, we noticed a small black and white dog, almost completely hidden by the tall grass, chasing the sheep – a sheepdog! There was a lady with a hat and a stick, telling the sheepdog where to herd the sheep. The sheep were stumbling and tripping over each other to obey the Scottish collie’s command! They ran round and round in circles, and then back to the lady, with the sheepdog on their tail. (But they never lost their tails; they always came back wagging behind them!). All of them looked so amiable and eager to please that they could have been pets. Once, when the lady told the sheepdog to herd the sheep into the pen, the sheep were rather overenthusiastic, and broke a side off of the pen as they ran into it. There was a roar of laughter from the audience as the sheep ran out with the side of the pen still clinging to their backs, and didn’t even try to shake it off! Such obedience!

We noticed one particular sheep, which was smaller than the others, but with strong leadership aspirations. It never got cowed down by the bigger, heftier, fluffier, sheep; instead, it always managed to have its head in front of all the others, leading the herd. We called him the snacker, because the first time we noticed him, he was chewing on some grass with such a blissful and contented smile on his face!

Soon, it was time for the sheep to be sheared. We tore ourselves away from the sheep and went over to watch. The first sheep protested vehemently to getting a haircut. It had to be dragged over by the ears, and it baaed and bleated loudly, as if the world was ending and it was going to die, just like my little sister Lavu does before a haircut! After a few minutes it realized it wasn’t going to get hurt, and got used to the feeling. It looked quite comical as they sheared it, hanging almost upside down, with its ears flopping out, and a thick coat of wool hanging off it’s back!

I felt calm and peaceful as I watched the sheep, with the blue sky over my head, and the hills around me. It was as if I was in a different world – the serene world that I had read about and only imagined until then, in the books by James Herriot. This world had come to life for me, here in Hidden Villa, inspiring me to return time and again. But I also realize that this world is fast disappearing. Hidden Villa is like an oasis in the Silicon Valley desert. Outside, life is full of sports, classes, school, homework, driving, rush rush rush rush rush. My visits to Hidden Villa have helped me build a closer connection with nature, reminding me how easy it is for us to forget this world amidst all the construction in Silicon Valley. Do we stand in danger of losing this utopia?

My Moment at Hidden Villa

 By Sudipti D., Grade 2

Hi, I was a future farmer before and I want to share my time with you. I’m going to tell my story from beginning to end. First, we fed the cows which was super cool! then we went inside from back to see more cows. They are the size of monsters and giants from my height. we get to touch the sheep and lambs also, there are two twin lambs which were just born .


Next, we went to the chicken coops and pig barn. the fun part is taking out eggs and putting them in a basket. the sad thing is sometimes the chickens peck their eggs and they break their eggs.

the farmers put sticks so they can rest. We also learned that the chickens lay eggs and make strange noises I never heard before. we also went outside where chickens run freely. I get to touch and hold them for long time. I even saw one of them had an injury so, farmer's had to take him to the feeding and to sleeping area. I felt sad for him. one of the pigs had so many piglets and they are so cute but not that furry. The mom pig was giant and huge looking. Same as the other two pigs. but they did not have piglets with them. Not to mention that there was an limit that pigs could give birth to twenty four piglets. But Rarely a pig can also give birth to just one. the funny part is that there was a pigeon among chickens which thought itself was a chicken !!! . We couldn't touch or feed the ram because the ram was too dangerous & aggressive. Also when the ram was young they cut his tail and that is because when he grow up it might hurt. Also they cut it’s tail and one of the reason is because when the ram goes poop the poop sticks on the rams tail. And that will cause a bad thing to the ram. And we went to goat's to touch and feed, also we fed the lamb's. We put the milk to one of the metal bucket's , Just like farmer's get milk from cow's it's the same thing to goat's. We took the milk & put it into a bottle just like I said in the other paragraph then we fed the lamb's we played with the lamb's. Also I did not mention this but when I was playing with the lamb they jumped & if they do it they were little they might jump on someone when they grow big. Then we came back to the sheep's and spent a little -bit time with them. Not to mention that this was two hour's. THE END. All in all I would like to visit “hidden villa” future farmer's again! One day I teach everybody how to take care of animals.

My Moment at Hidden Villa

By Aditi D., Grade 2







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The Interfaith Experience: A Youth-led Forum

interfaith forumIn the early morning of April 20th the farm was buzzing with teens practicing their speeches, setting up for the big day and making sure the last touches were in place. The Interfaith Experience was a completely youth-led event from start to finish that brought diverse perspectives together and gave youth opportunities to teach about tolerance. This inaugural "Duveneck Forum" provided the community with a space to come together for a collaborative discussion on non-violent communication, empathy and common ground between faiths.

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Join us for a Floral Wreath Making Class

I spent this morning harvesting and drying flowers for my Holiday wreaths. Even though it's the dog days of Summer I am looking ahead and wanting to make all of this Summer bounty last into Fall and Winter. Sign up now to join me November 10th for my wreath making class, using materials grown and harvested here on the farm. Hope to see you there!


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No Batteries Required


I’m sitting here watching the cutest scene out on the Duveneck House lawn: a camp counselor playing her ukulele, 9-year olds just grinning away and singing along gustily - good old fashioned fun. No gimmicks. No batteries required. That’s what this place seems so profoundly able to provide for the world-weary. Exactly what our weekend programs do: give folks a breather, away from the mall, away from the pressures of our hectic urban life and back to a healthier and more balanced human-ness.

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