In response to the groundswell of interest in regenerative agriculture and access to ethically produced food, Hidden Villa has launched the new Food For Thought initiative, specifically geared toward helping eaters better understand their food.
New programming under Food For Thought will create opportunities for Silicon Valley residents to learn about and connect with the progressive and inspired agricultural work being done by the farmers and ranchers who serve the local food system.
Over the next year, Hidden Villa is scheduled to team up with local producers, companies and organizations for a series of food and farming workshops designed to equip and inspire local eaters. Adults can improve their beverages (and their health) with the help of the botany and bitters experts of Shoots and Roots, and learn the art and science of fermentation from the cultured food enthusiasts at Kraut Source. Budding young pastry makers can join forces with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula’s chef Derrek Brown and his team of bakers in a peer-to-peer pie-making class, and aspiring floral artists will learn how to bring the vibrancy of wild and cultivated flora into their homes under the tutelage of Hidden Villa’s own flower farmer, Lanette Anderson.
In a fast-paced world, being an ethical eater can be a challenging task, with marketing labels that can often confuse more than inform and a complex supply chain that keeps the farmer and their practices obscured from the consumer. Despite the murkiness of the complicated modern food system, there is growing demand for nutrient-dense food grown thoughtfully with respect to land, labor and animal welfare.
In addition, more people are calling for regenerative agriculture – once an esoteric concept in the agricultural world – as a solution to the problems they see in conventional agriculture. A bridge beyond “organic” and “sustainable,” regenerative agriculture aims to actively improve the landscape by using management techniques designed to sequester carbon, build healthy soil and increase biodiversity all without harmful, petroleum-based inputs.
Programs under Food For Thought are designed to foster conversations among consumers, producers and thought-leaders around the production and consumption of food in a quickly changing world. Food For Thought events and workshops aim to empower intentional eaters with the skills and resources needed to participate in a more just and regenerative food system.
The kick-off to Food For Thought was Hidden Villa’s first Homesteader’s Faire, held in late May. Foragers, fermenters, farmers and makers from around the Bay Area gathered at Hidden Villa to share skills, swap ideas and build community around self-reliance and stewardship. With support from a roster of professionals, experienced hobbyists and volunteers from like-minded organizations, homesteaders and enthusiasts of all ages engaged with local experts representing 19 different topics – from food preservation to homemade winemaking, beekeeping and hide tanning. A lineup of food demonstrations taught fair-goers how to fill their pantries with a variety of homemade goods – preserved lemons, sauerkraut, fruit-infused mead – while reducing food waste.
The wild foods nature walk encouraged guests to consider the natural edible landscape as an important resource to be enjoyed and respected, and presentations on chickens, composting and fruit-tree care provided tips and tricks to keep backyard food thriving.
Hidden Villa plans to host the Homesteader’s Faire again next spring.
“We know the conversations that shape how people think about their food are full of texture and highly personal,” said Blair Thompson, animal husbandry manager at Hidden Villa. “But Hidden Villa has a history of standing at the intersection of fruitful and difficult conversations, and we hope to bring the spirit of inquiry and compassion that motivated the Duvenecks to Food For Thought. As we host events like the Homesteader’s Faire and listen to these conversations with local food producers, we hope to use the Duvenecks’ legacy of community building to connect eaters and growers striving for a just and sustainable future.”
To register for Food For Thought food and farming workshops and for more information on the initiative, visit hiddenvilla.org/foodforthought.
Virginia Clay works on Hidden Villa’s animal husbandry team.