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Mondays have a bad reputation, definitely the underdog of the week. It is the day when you see a pile on the desk, when messages are checked and coffee gets spilled, the day blamed for the end of weekends and vacations. Mondays have even become the most likely day for a break up. But at Hidden Villa? Not quite the same, especially for interns...
For the internship program at Hidden Villa, Mondays represent something new each week. Monday, being the one day a week that Hidden Villa is closed to the public, instead becomes a "class" day, with each Monday of the year focusing on a different topic, theme, or project. One Monday a month is reserved for a fieldtrip, combing the best of what Hidden Villa has to offer with the best of our diverse Bay Area. Some Monday classes are even accredited through Foothill College, allowing interns to gain insight in to new material while earning college credits.
September 19th marked the beginning of our class season, and we kicked it off with a trip to get a first hand look at what other groups in the area are doing in the fields of environmental education, sustainable agriculture, and garden based learning. It was a long, hot, day but a very productive one, making stops to tour and volunteer at Deer Hollow Farm in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, and Taft Community School in Redwood City.
Some intern observations from the day:
"I was struck by a lot of things at Full Circle Farm and how it compares to Hidden Villa. It is really interesting that they have converted a baseball field to a farm. I realized that I take the ecological richness and diversity of Hidden Villa for granted. However, it's amazing that Full Circle is building these qualities slowly but surely in that particular suburban area by starting a farm, and I think that is really important work in restoring an ecosystem. It must be an interesting process for them to watch. They are also building a community around the farm in the area. It gave me perspective to see a farm that was started from scratch 4 years ago compared to Hidden Villa's history. It made me realize how long it takes for those aspects to come together, and I was sympathetic to the hard work and obstacles of the Full Circle staff."
"Deer Hollow’s educational farm lie just on the other side of Ewing Hill, shaded by the familiar foliage of California Bay. What first struck me when we got there was how much of a hiker-conduit it felt like—a number of local folks were breezing by to catch a cool morning walk. When we arrived in the morning, we were greeted by a former HVEEP guide Claire, who as Deer Hollow’s animal husbandry staff, introduced us to the farm’s animals-goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, and cows. Apparently environmental education keeps both guides and animals all in the family because the grand daughter of Hidden Villa’s milke cow Cleo is also a resident at Deer Hollow.
Besides the animals and educational garden, Deer Hollow had something unique that that we don’t find here at Hidden Villa. Just past the cows, we walked to a model of what an Ohlone village may have looked like before this area had been settled, and it felt like such a special place to introduce a culture to kids in a way they can relate too. Being able to walk inside their homes made of reeds and feel the pelts of different animals was a powerful experience."
"The location I liked the most was Taft Elementary because despite being a
school of low income families they were so attached to the education and
the well being of their children. The idea of having an educational garden
for the children is amazing and gives them this type of tool to interact with
the natural environment a new way of seeing life. I really feel that there’s
a lot of work that should be done in terms of getting the community more
informed about the environmental issues and how they can help on improving
solutions. Also to get the Latin community more attached to this
type of programs."