• An Interview With Sue Gale, Board President of Friends of Deer Hollow Farm

    By Jenise Henrikson, December 16, 2014

    Few people have more insight into the importance of Deer Hollow Farm than Sue Gale, the Board President of Friends of Deer Hollow Farm. The Friends of Deer Hollow Farm is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Farm via fundraising, awareness efforts, and community events. 

    Sue Gale, Friends of Deer Hollow Farm

    Today, we are taking a look behind the scenes of the Farm by sitting down with Sue Gale to discuss how the Farm helps us get closer to our food sources and her vision for the Farm in 2014. Sue even tells us her favorite Farm animal, which is no small feat with all the different choices!

    How did you first get involved with Deer Hollow Farm?

    Sue: I retired from Lockheed Martin in 2002, and after reading a “Volunteers Wanted” poster at Deer Hollow Farm, I became a field trip docent. I joined the Board of Directors in 2004 and spent six years helping to raise money for the Farm. I rejoined for another six years in 2012.

    You are the Board President of Friends of Deer Hollow Farm – what does that role entail?

    Sue: Perhaps the most important role of the President is to keep the nonprofit Board focused on its mission, raising money for the Farm and helping to ensure that the Board operates efficiently in accordance with 501(c)(3) nonprofit regulations. Since it’s an all-volunteer Board, we want to make the work as easy and efficient as possible. Besides chairing meetings, another important task of the President is to represent the nonprofit to funding partners and Farm staff.

    What do you think is the most valuable service or feature Deer Hollow Farm offers the Silicon Valley community?

    Sue: The Farm offers Silicon Valley residents a beautiful (and free!) respite from our hectic lives. Once people step out of their cars and start walking through Rancho San Antonio to the Farm, they feel the soothing magic of being outdoors in nature. They’ll see many wild animals in their habitats including deer, turkeys, rabbits, and the occasional bobcat. As they enter the barnyard with its century-old buildings, people immediately feel a connection with their past.

    For centuries Americans have lived on farms. Most people return again and again to watch the livestock and garden grow through the seasons. The Farm teaches many lessons, most especially the importance of protecting our environment, the interconnection of all life, and the source of our food. The Farm serves 100,000 Bay Area visitors and 5,000 students each year. It clearly has a special place in their hearts and is an important regional teaching center.

    Can you give a brief overview of what it takes to keep Deer Hollow Farm running on a day to day basis?

    Sue: The Farm is a busy place with many hands contributing to its operation. About 20 volunteers feed and care for the livestock seven days a week under the direction of the resident Farm Animal Caretaker. Trained volunteers come in morning and afternoon shifts to muck out the barns, and feed and water the animals and poultry according to schedules and instructions provided by the Caretaker.

    Another set of Farm volunteers tends the large organic garden and orchard used in Farm field trips. All Farm classes, attended by 5,000 children each year, are taught by 27 trained volunteers under the guidance of a Lead Teacher, who coordinates class content and schedule with teachers and docents. During the Summer, hundreds of Bay Area children come for Summer Day Camp with a cadre of counselors leading them in small groups. A full-time Farm Coordinator oversees the Farm operation and its educational programs. There’s also a full-time Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District staff member who does daily and special Farm maintenance chores.

    The Farm is no small operation. It takes more than $400,000 a year to run it. A unique funding partnership among various government organizations, foundations and donors funds the Farm. Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District owns the land and buildings and provides maintenance with help from Santa Clara County; the City of Mountain View funds Farm operations and Farm management with 2.5 Recreation Department employees and 50 dedicated volunteers. Cupertino, Los Altos Hills, and Friends of Deer Hollow Farm donors also help fund Farm operations.

    When you meet someone who has never been to Deer Hollow Farm, how do you explain the importance of the Farm to the local community?

    Sue: People eat food several times a day, but usually don’t put much thought into where it comes from. The Farm brings the people face-to-face with their food and what it takes to grow it. In the 1800s, most Americans lived on a farm and helped raised their food. In the 1900s, Santa Clara Valley was known as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” with vast orchards and farms throughout the region.

    So, coming to the Farm not only brings us close to our food sources, but also shows us what life was like in America and our valley for the past couple hundred years. Deer Hollow Farm has been a working farm and ranch for 160 years. It’s our history, and we can step back in time just by getting out of our car and walking a mile.

    What are your goals for Deer Hollow Farm in 2015?

    Sue: My goal for Deer Hollow Farm is to ensure its future by strengthening its funding base. I would like to see every city whose residents visit the Farm (that’s more than ten cities with 100,000 visitors annually) help sustain the Farm. Right now only Mountain View, Cupertino, and Los Altos Hills provide support.

    And for decades, Mountain View was the only city to fund Farm management, which is absolutely essential to having live farm animals. Without this staff, the Farm would have no animals and would be a museum, not a working Farm. This year, Friends will be seeking Farm operations support from other cities whose residents love the Farm.

    D: Okay, dish – who is your favorite animal on the farm if you had to pick just one?

    Sue: Luna the cow is my favorite Farm animal. Here is a picture of me welcoming Luna to the Farm in June 2008. She was born at nearby Hidden Villa under the full moon, hence her name.

    .Deer Hollow Farm

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