Save the Farm

Deer Hollow may lose city funding

Top: Each year, 1,500 Silicon Valley kindergartners attend the Farm and Garden class at Deer Hollow Farm. Middle: Saige Aronson (left) and Valerie Cheatham (right) get a feel for goat fur. Bottom: At Deer Hollow Farm’s Ohlone Day celebration, former teacher Keith Gutierrez demonstrates how the local Native Americans made fire.

Photographs by Sue Gale

For more than 30 years, South Bay students have taken field trips to Deer Hollow Farm to learn about growing produce and raising livestock. Now, as Mountain View struggles economically, the farm is in danger of losing funding for its employees.

Each school year, 5,000 students from kindergarten through fifth grade visit the 150-year-old farm, where they are taught some of the basics of farm life, such as how to milk a cow and shear a sheep. They listen to stories about the original farm owners—the Grant family—and other homestead farmers. In the farm’s garden, kindergartners learn about growing fruits and vegetables.

Sue Gale, president of the nonprofit Friends of Deer Hollow Farm, says it is important for young students to learn where food actually comes from.

“When I teach the classes, I’ll walk the children up to the cow and I’ll say, ‘Where do your hamburgers come from?’ And they’ll say McDonald’s,” she says.

“The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District bought the farm in 1976,” Gale says.  “Its purpose is to teach visitors about life on a homestead farm.” In addition, a replica of an Ohlone Indian village, complete with willow baskets and animal skins, shows students what life was like for the local Native Americans.

The farm’s operations are funded by the nonprofit Friends of Deer Hollow Farm, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Santa Clara County, and the city of Mountain View. The latter provides the funding specifically for the farm’s 2.5 paid employees. Due to financial problems, the city has been forced to consider ending that funding. 

“If the [resident farmer’s] position went away, we couldn’t have the animals here. You can’t have animals without someone caring for them,” Gale says. “And if the lead teacher position went away, we couldn’t have the field trips for the students.”

Fortunately, the city of Mountain View decided in late June not to cut the farm’s funding in 2010, but it could still happen in 2011. Visit the Friends of Deer Hollow Farm’s website,, to learn more about the organization and what you can do to help keep the farm running.