The Best of Silicon Valley 2010

Society & Family | Staff Picks

Metro's Best of Silicon Valley 2010 Veggielution Community Farm points the way to the future of local, sustainable agriculture.

Best Place to Be a Scarecrow

Veggielution Community Farm
Prusch Park, 647 S. King Road, San Jose; If local farming is a trend, it's going to be the last one. This noteworthy community resource "growing food and justice from the ground" is an oasis in the troubled East Side. They sell sliding-scale produce on Saturdays 2:30-5pm, or you can purchase seedlings to help out this community plot at the San Pedro farmers market (where they were last seen displaying seedlings and a handsome selection of purple and green basil). They're always seeking volunteers to help out, and it's harvest time right now: their hens are laying and the corn is 10 feet high.

Best San Jose Historical Preservation

Soccer Legacy Project Whenever Lew Wolff decides to build a new soccer stadium across from the airport, he will definitely have something that no other team in America has: A monstrous collection of artifacts, memorabilia, ticket stubs, T-shirts, posters and much more—all relating to the history of soccer in San Jose. Entirely organized and collected by the fans, the idea is to have a museum-quality archival display of all things Earthquakes once the new stadium emerges. Hundreds of items already comprise the collection in its current state, stashed away for the time being at History San Jose. All we can say to Lew is Build It Now!

Best Kid-Watching

Deer Hollow Farm
Rancho San Antonio County Park, Los Altos; 650.903.6430. Every spring the little museum piece of a farm located in the heart of Rancho San Antonio County Park erupts into a perfect storm of cuteness. There are chicks, there are ducklings, there are piglets—and then there are kids. You think your human Mini-Me's are adorable? Get a load of the newly minted Nubian, Boer and Oberhalsie baby goats gamboling about the barnyard, clambering over hay bales and busting cute-o-meters left and right. Mark it now: March through May's the time.

Best Hiking Contingency Plan

Huddart County Park
1100 Kings Mountain Road, Woodside, 650.851.1210. Wunderlich County Park, 4040 Woodside Road, Woodside, 650.851.1210. Planning a hike on the peninsula during the summer and fall months can be chancy. Will it be too hot? Will it be too cold? Don't risk even a moment of discomfort! Head straight for downtown Woodside, then assess. If the day is hot, turn right on Kings Mountain Road and take refuge in the cool redwood-shaded gullies of Huddart. If it's chilly, stay on Woodside Road about three minutes and warm up on the energy-demanding inclines and sunny meadows of Wunderlich. And if the day is just right, flip a coin and give thanks for California's mostly fabulous climate.

Best Alternate Route to Oakland

280 to 680 to 580
The stretch of 880 from the South Bay to Oakland is, let's face it, punishingly ugly. A relentless alleyway of concrete soundwalls broken only by the occasional barrage of garish corporate signage, the Admiral Nimitz Freeway seems to exist only to remind us how deeply wrong sprawl is. OK, we get it! And now when we go to Oaktown, especially if we're headed to the east side, we take 280 south, which turns into 680 north as easily as a melody and guides us through the rolling sun-kissed pastures of the East Bay, until we get to 580 and dip back for a leisurely jaunt west. Ah, that's much better.

Best Mascot

The hottest property on the San Jose Giants can't really run because he trips over his own big feet, can't catch a ball because the glove won't fit over his banana-sized fingers and has a caution-orange goatee on a too-big face. But we all have talents, and Gigante the mascot's are busting out mean dance moves, presiding over hilarious games between innings and turning baseball fans of all ages into giggling kids again.

Best Adult Education Program

Celebrity Forum
Foothill-De Anza Community College District. 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino; 408.864.8816. The lineup for the Celebrity Forum speaker series is always stellar, and this year's is no exception: Yo-Yo Ma, the globe-trotting cellist; Greg Mortenson, the mountain-climbing director of the Central Asia Institute and author of Stones Into Schools; Reza Aslan, the frighteningly brilliant writer-filmmaker-Council on Foreign Relations-member; etc. The conversation is surprisingly casual, and the setting—De Anza College's magnificent Flint Center—is perfect for these often dramatic real-life performances.

Best Place to Rescue a Feline in Need

Town Cats of Morgan Hill Rescue
P.O. Box 1828, Morgan Hill; 408.779.5761. Since the economy tanked, there has been a huge spike in pets being dropped off at animal shelters by owners who can no longer afford to care for them. With most local shelters bursting at the seams, many of them have had to turn to euthanasia. Town Cats of Morgan Hill Rescue has always adhered to a no-kill policy. This great, small-time nonprofit shelter takes in cats in need and matches them to just the right forever home.

Best Place to Doll Up A Barbie

Nice Twice Doll Shop
253 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell; 408.379.9599. Twenty-six years in the trade, this doll boutique buys and sells good-condition, previously owned fashion Barbies (in addition to Madame Alexander and other lines); this is the best place in the area to find threads for the attenuated yet glamorous Barb (still in the public eye, as of Toy Story 3) as well as her frenemies Francie, Skipper, Skooter, Ricky and Midge.

Best Bamboo

Bamboo Garden at Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills; 650.949.7777. Some 70 varieties of bamboo are grown at this 2-acre botanical garden at Los Altos Hills' Foothill College. During a free tour, one ponders this plant's qualities, both as substitute for timber and plastics—and as spiritual symbol because of its strength yet flexibility, as cited by the Tao Te Ching (itself copied down on bamboo eons ago). Plus an azumaya (a meditation shelter) to think it all over. Everything but the pandas.