Hidden Villa is a nonprofit educational organization that uses its organic farm, wilderness, and community to teach and provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice. It stretches over 1600 acres of open space in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and has over 8 miles of hiking trails that are fun for the whole family—so it came as no surprise that Hidden Villa was your Totally Awesome pick for best family hiking in the SF Bay area. Hidden Villa’s Communications Coordinator Tenaya Schnare recently took the time to chat with us about what makes this gem awesome, the history of Hidden Villa, and even its cow, Cleo. Read on:
Red Tricycle: Congratulations on being voted “Most Awesome” by your community! What do you think your customers value most about your business?

Tenaya Schnare: Hidden Villa offers a range of opportunities for families and children of all ages to learn and explore our organic farm and natural world. In addition to hands-on educational programs for school groups, Hidden Villa offers weekend classes, such as cow milking or cheese-making, that are open to the public. We also provide 8 miles of hiking trails ranging in intensity from a relaxing stroll by the creek to exhilarating climbs that lead to beautiful vistas of the Bay. From farm to garden to creek to sunny chaparral, our property offers an exciting array of habitats to experience, enjoy and explore the interconnectedness of all living things.

RT: What inspired you to start your business?

TS: Hidden Villa was founded by Frank and Josephine Duveneck, who purchased the land in 1924 and offered it as a gathering place for discussion, reflection, and incubation of social reform. Over the following decades, the Duvenecks established the first Hostel on the Pacific Coast (1937), one of the first multicultural summer camps (1945), and Hidden Villa’s Environmental Education Program (1970).  Hidden Villa was established as a nonprofit in 1960 and uses its organic farm, wilderness, and community to teach and provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice through hands-on and inquiry based learning.
Any advice for new business owners just getting started?: Engage your local community in creative ways.  Hidden Villa recently partnered with downtown Palo Alto’s kid friendly, walk in craft studio, C is for Craft, to host a farm craft day called “F is for Farm” event that brought families together to become more familiar with farming and our natural world through interactive and fun craft projects.

RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?

TS: Go hiking! Research shows that the best ideas come when time is spent relaxing in nature. Spending time outdoors is also a fun way to inspire kids to explore the world around them and make hands-on connections between choice, impact and taking care.

RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?

TS: Hidden Villa provides space for learning, interaction and connection to the natural world and one another. For families, it is a place to explore, connect and share new experiences. For children, it is often the first taste of farm and wilderness exploration, whether it’s wandering through the garden tunnels or visiting Cleo, our delightful cow. It is by providing this space that we work to inspire leaders, young and old, to care for one another and the world we share.

Intrigued by Hidden Villa? Follow this totally awesome business on Facebook and Twitter, keep up with the Hidden Villa blog, and check out their Calendar of Events.