Hidden Villa will be closed to the public from June 3 through August 3 for the safety of our camp community.

May Monthly Newsletter_2023

May 2023

May 3, 2023

Dear <Informal Greeting>,

“There is something here for all ages from pre-schoolers through college graduates, including the individual researcher, child or adult.” – Josephine Duveneck

Each year, we work towards achieving Josephine Duveneck’s vision for everyone to experience Hidden Villa through reflection, action, and ongoing collaboration. And I’m excited to share that there is something here for all at Hidden Villa! See below a set of fantastic updates and opportunities to expand your joy, friendships, and community. As we head into summer, I also want to share some recent achievements with you:

Thanks to Deer Creek Resources, our property team, and supporters like you, we completed phase one of our Land Resilience Project last month. We’re now one step closer to becoming an ecologically healthy and fire safe temporary refuge area by creating a buffer around the property. This will not only support sensitive habitats and safeguard the community within Hidden Villa, but is also supportive of our neighbors. (watch our mini documentary here).

Now in our 30th year of Hidden Villa’s CSA, our farmers continue to lead the charge in regenerative and organic agriculture practices. We create an ideal environment for decomposers through soil-building practices like on-site composting and recycling wood chips as mulch back into the land. This creates enriched soil that is better able to retain nutrients and water. This has enabled us to sustainably create and donate thousands of pounds of healthy produce to the Community Services Agency of Mountain View each year for the past 20 years. 

We’re working hard internally to ensure that everyone who comes to Hidden Villa feels welcome, seen, and a sense of belonging. With Board and Staff we’re collaborating with “Justice Outside” and “Of, By, For, All” to form working groups, create foundational trainings, and build a new culture that offers a just and sustainable future for all. We recognize that this work must start from within and ripple outwards. 

Thank you for being part of the Hidden Villa Community. Please consider supporting our Heart of Hidden Villa Fund to keep these important operations and our mission moving forward.


Elliott Wright, President, Vice Chair

In Gratitude to Our Interns

Our Interns are nearing the end of their time here at Hidden Villa and will surely be missed. We have been lucky to have such a bright cohort add to our initiatives here on the farm and out in the community. Despite their program coming to an end, our interns have still been quite busy. This week Claire and Nate went to Saratoga School Earth Day Event where they shared about caring for our bees and pollinators and facilitated some pollinator games with the students. Claire will be leading two classes in the month of May. They’ve also helped with our Earth Day Events, Sheep Shearing day, and Summer Camp open House.

Vanessa has been leading Jr. Farm Chefs a program where kids experience cooking a variety of simple dishes while learn about where food comes from, various types of foods, and how food fuels our bodies. They learn kitchen safety, food safety, and even harvest some food grown at Hidden Villa! In the kitchen. Jr. Chefs participate in tastings with Vanessa that test all of the five senses. Together, they explore new foods, prepare tasty food, and share new discoveries and creations with their families!
Sun has been leading an After School Adventure program too. In Sun’s program kids become more self-aware as they uncover different strategies for self-care and self-expression. They engage in art activities, sensory hikes, and other forms of creative movement. As youth work with Sun to develop a practice of caring for and being kind to themselves, they are better equipped to care for the world around them. They leave feeling more empowered in kindness to others and in curiosity for the natural world.
All of the interns have lead hundreds of students in Farm Tours, Farm and Wilderness Programs, and Youth Development programs. They’ve all participated in weekly professional development classes. We are so grateful for the hours of energy, care, and effort our Interns have given. Thank you from all of us at Hidden Villa!



Fire Resilience

A ten-person crew from Deer Creek Resources arrived on April 2, 2023. Over a period of 10 days, the crew dedicated their efforts on reducing fuels in the understory of the canopy throughout the most utilized parts of the property that posed the greatest wildfire risk. Their work was done by hand and with careful attention to protect and preserve vulnerable habitat while greatly improving the health and readiness of Hidden Villa. We prioritized mitigation efforts around areas that could be used as a temporary refuge area for the Los Altos Hills community (the main parking lot) as well as the Duveneck House, Hostel, and the White House due to their historical and operational significance. Mitigation work is intended to improve the defensibility of structures and assets at Hidden Villa and to increase the efficacy of the property as an area of temporary refuge. Watch our mini documentary here to learn more.

Riekes at Hidden Villa

This August, the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement will be running two of their summer camp programs here at Hidden Villa! Riekes mission is to provide each student with the best possible opportunity to define and accomplish individual goals, build character and learn transferable life skills through Creative Arts, Athletic Fitness and Nature Awareness, in an environment of non-judgment and mutual respect. Two of their Nature summer camp programs will be here at Hidden Villa this summer; Nature Ramblers for ages 5 – 8 and Nature Adventure Camp for ages 9 – 13. Learn more here.


Excellence in Environmental Education

By the numbers – so far this season, we have served 6,256 students from 144 schools representing 66 zip codes. We have also provided over $27,000 in scholarships to Title 1 schools. With the help of our volunteer guides and educational staff, we’ve been able to provide over two hundred programs since September, and our spring has felt full with school groups on and around the farm.

Later this month, we will be opening registrations for fall programs. The new process will allow teachers to view availability and book spots right on our website, so check back for more information soon.

Our school year programs will wrap up at the end of May, and our team is looking forward to spending the summer reflecting on our programs and incorporating feedback to make our educational experiences even more impactful.

Summer Camp Partners with Palo Alto University

Hidden Villa is partnering up with Palo Alto University, (PAU) to provide wrap around mental heath training and services for summer staff. Through education, research, and training in psychology and counseling, PAU prepares its students to address pressing and emerging issues that equitably meet the needs of our ever-changing human condition. Hidden Villa summer staff will train with PAU ahead of camp to strengthen the teams collective tool kit and learn ways to build those tools into our program process. Summer staff will also learn how to respond to mental health emergencies, identify signs and symptoms, and learn some of the resources that are available to help. In addition to staff training before camp, PAU will offer support and hold reflections between each camp session.  

Hidden Villa Summer Camp

Teen Leadership Camps

                        Our summer teen leadership camps take adventure to the next level! Our teen leaders participate in a variety of dynamic trainings and have the opportunity of testing their skills in real-time. Teen leaders build confidence, community, and their resume all while making memories and having some fun. We also have a few spaces open in our Day Camps and Residential Camps. Visit our program information page to learn more.

Summer Camp Jobs

There are only two months until summer! Our 2023 Summer Camp jobs are now open and we are in search of dynamic young adults to fill these positions. Our Summer Camp staff have the option to live on-site and all meals are provided. The summer begins with a week of dynamic leadership training. All staff will complete first aid and have the option of earning lifeguard and high ropes certifications (these certificates result in a pay increase). Camp staff will meet new people and forge friendships that will last a lifetime. They will mentor the next generation of environmental and social justice stewards. Staff will have an opportunity to hone leadership and management skills, develop lesson plans, and bolster their resumes. Several positions include:

Lifeguard Counselors                       Unit Leader                     Residential Overnight Counselor

Learn More


Senior Naturalist Garth Harwood

Garth Harwood was the Director of Education at Hidden Villa for many years, leading field experiences for over 20,000 elementary-school students annually. He holds graduate degrees in Experiential Education and Restoration Ecology from the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he was an instructor in Environmental Studies and Human Physiology. An accomplished naturalist, birder, and wildlife tracker, Garth participates in numerous community-science projects such as iNaturalist and eBird. Garth was recognized in 2011 as Northern California’s “Environmental Educator of the Year” by the Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators.


“Seasonal Cycles Series”

Insects: Friends with Benefits

May 13

Insects are our friends and are essential to human life. Benefits to humanity include critical ecosystem services such as pollination, decomposition, and sustenance for birds and amphibians.

Learn More

The Ways of Wildflowers

May 20

Join us to investigate the evolutionary origin of flowers, their ecological importance, the various tricks they play on us animals, and of course – to admire them up close


Learn More

Meet Herptiles: Reptiles, Amphibians, and more

May 27

Celebrate herptiles – their beauty, strange adaptations, and their beneficial roles. Slides and taxidermied specimens will prepare you for a rare glimpse.


Learn More

Roots & Shoots: What’s going on beyond our view?

June 3

Join us to delve into those mysterious functions and processes of roots and shoots, and watch some of them in action on the farm and in the forest.


Learn More

Earth Club for Kids

Our newest science, adventure, and play program builds skills needed to connect with nature on a deep level. The club devotes time to species identification, nature journaling, wildlife observation and tracking, measurement techniques, wild food foraging and other survival skills, and many other ‘hard skills’ needed by every naturalist.

Play and adventure are also important at Earth Club! Naturalist Garth’s catalog of nature games is extensive, and playing these games will add additional skills such as moving silently and with stealth, teamwork, close observation, sensory focus, and more. As for adventure, Hidden Villa’s wild lands beg to be explored, and fresh discoveries may await around any curve of the trail!
 If your kid(s) agree that it sounds like fun, your 4-week registration may be used consecutively, or as it fits your schedule until you’ve attended your first 4 meetings. In other words, it’s OK if you miss a meeting now and then – just let us know. If you have questions that aren’t answered by the website, please direct them to our Senior Naturalist at [email protected]. (Note: Earth Club will take a break over the summer, but will resume at summer’s end.)

Classes & Programs


Join an experienced, Certified USA Archery Level 2 Instructor with over 20 years of experience at Hidden Villa’s very own archery range!  Ages 8 and up will gain skills in a fun and safe experience. Equipment is provided.

Learn More

Forest Therapy

Experience Forest Therapy at Hidden Villa with Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, Kira White. Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests.

Learn More

Weekend Farm Tour

Get up close with cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep! Ask questions, find out interesting facts, and learn what it takes to care for our farm animals. You will also spend time in the garden exploring and tasting. 

Learn More

Around the Farm

Our 30th year of Community Supported Agriculture kicks off this month! Our farmers have been working hard and have helped Hidden Villa improve greatly our farms soil health. We are very excited about this seasons harvest. The rainfall from this winter and the increased ability to sequester carbon are anticipated to have a great impact on the food our farmers are growing for this 30th annual CSA harvest season. Watch our video from the archives to learn more about how our farmers used wood-chips to enrich our soil here

Event Flowers

Join an experienced, Certified USA Archery Level 2 Instructor with over 20 years of experience at Hidden Villa’s very own archery range!  Ages 8 and up will gain skills in a fun and safe experience. Equipment is provided.

Happy Birthday HVeep

This past Earth Day Hidden Villa’s Environmental Education Program, better known around the ranch as HVeep, made 53 years! HVeep started on Earth Day in 1970 and has been connecting youth to the land through outdoor exploration and environmental stewardship ever since. Thank you to our Environmental Education Team, our Intern Team, and our Volunteer Team for keeping HVeep going and touching the lives of thousands of youth each year. 

Become a Weekend Volunteer

Did you know you can become a Farm Tour Guide or an Ambassador? Those with a passion for organic agriculture, animals, and community will love learning by doing while lending a hand! Many of our volunteers lead guided tours for school children on weekdays and family groups on weekends. We also host groups of volunteers (10 +) to help work in the fields alongside our farm crew. Inquire here to become a weekend volunteer.

Animal Update


Thanks to your generous donations, we met our Cow- Raiser goal of $5,000! We will now be able to purchase a milking cow which will greatly support our farm and education programs. Thank you for your generosity!


It’s breeding season! Our ewes are down at Stienmann’s ranch with our intact male. We are hoping for signs that are ewes are pregnant soon. Stay tuned…


Soleil had her babies! She birthed three kids, two small bucklings and one large doeling. The runt of Soleil’s litter (the peewee guy with black/white/tan markings) was surviving but not really thriving. Very young animals can go downhill fast and runts are at a higher risk for health issues. After farmer Virgina took him to the vet, his overall heath improved. Daisy’s got a little udder on her and she’s getting big. Her kidding window starts 5/20!


The piglets are growing fast and have acclimated quite well to life on the farm. We did not notice signs of heat from Ethel last week so we’re feeling more confident that she was bred successfully. We hope to have more piglets in the near future.


We received a box of replacement chicks on Friday, so we’re back up to about 60 in the brooder again. The 1 week age difference is pretty noticeable! They grow fast.

Farm Fact

It’s tick season! Ticks love to hang out on the tips of long grasses and plants to await their next form of transportation, (deer wandering from place to place or you! Wearing light colors makes it much easier to see if you have any ticks on your clothing.  Wear long sleeve shirt, tuck your pants into your boots or socks, and tuck your shirt into your pants. Remember to thoroughly check yourself and your children frequently for ticks, especially at the hairline, base of the scalp, under the arms, in and around ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs and around the waist.

Access Pass

An Access Pass provides free and unlimited admission to Hidden Villa during open hours from September to May. The pass is good for one year from date of purchase. Access Pass fees help maintain our roads, 8 miles of hiking trails, organic farmland, and educational spaces.

Register Here

Register to Visit

Explore our hiking trails, meet our farm animals, and discover what’s growing around the farm. Reservations are encouraged but not required. We will not turn away anyone for inability to pay. You can learn more about visiting Hidden Villa on our website.


Register Here

Photo Credits: Laurie Schutters, Nicole Carbone, Zain Kane, Lanette Anderson, Jessica Zuckerman DuVal, Lucy Zhang