Los Altos Hills, CA
“MESA stewards have consistently been the most enthusiastic, thoughtful, and talented people I have worked with at my farm. Being a MESA host for me is participating in a strong mutual relationship… in which everyone benefits from the exchange of knowledge, skills, and friendship.”
-Jason McKenney, Hidden Villa Farm manager
MESA first discovered Hidden Villa in 2001, while scouting out an appropriate site to hold our annual orientation for newly arrived stewards. We could not have found a better spot to spend one week of focused, programmatic activities to help ease the stewards’ acclimation process and maximize their U.S. experience.[img_assist|nid=224|title=Group Gardening|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=263] Hidden Villa, just minutes away–yet a world apart–from Silicon Valley, is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains; a 1600-acre wilderness preserve, hostel, organic farm, summer camp and environmental center all rolled into one!
In Hidden Villa, MESA found not just an inviting and generous partner to help facilitate our annual orientation (thanks to Diny Van der Velden, HV’s superb hostel coordinator!), but a terrific host for any MESA steward fortunate enough to be selected for one of two highly-coveted HV farm intern spots offered each year.
Guided by the wise, enthusiastic supervision of HV’s first farm manager, Andy Scott, eager MESA stewards from Thailand, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru have flourished in an environment that is dedicated to food sustainability, land conservation, social justice and community education. After 17 years as HV’s inveterate farm manager, last year Andy handed over the reigns to new farm manager Jason McKenney, with an aim toward increasing the farm’s productivity and self-sufficiency. Since Jason’s arrival, Hidden Villa Farm has increased its CSA shares by 80%, donates 25% of its farm produce to the local food bank, and is now attending a farmers’ market for the first time.[img_assist|nid=226|title=watermelon toss|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=350|height=263] Discover Hidden Villa for yourself! Hidden Villa, its hostel, organic farm, visitors’ center/retreat and miles of gorgeous wilderness trails are all open to the public. And if you visit, stop by and say hello to Lorena Requena, Hidden Villa’s newest MESA steward from Peru!