Staff

 Little Garden Patch Farm is much more than a licensed care and education program, it's a community!  Learn more about the adults who help the children learn and grow within this safe and loving community. 

 

Owner/Director

Linnaea Avenell

 Teacher Linnaea is an experienced educator, administrator, caregiver, and parent with nearly 30 years of professional experience working with children and families.  

Before opening Little Garden Patch Farm in Soquel in 2013, Linnaea taught after school enrichment classes through Los Gatos/Saratoga Recreation, assisted in the classroom with K-3 elementary school children at Washington Open Elementary,  and was a popular instructor with both young children and parents at Wilson Preschool and Santa Clara Adult Ed.   Linnaea is also an experienced former homeschooling parent, sympathetic to the challenges and gifts that accompany a variety of learning styles. In addition to her many years teaching, she has also worked as a director and administrator for youth programs, as a professional writer, and as a pastoral counselor.

As an avid nature enthusiast and environmentalist all her life, she has a passion for connecting children with nature and helping them understand the importance of taking care of the world around us.  Her other personal interests include farming, crafting, sewing, history, cultures, and writing.   She loves sharing these interests with the children and introducing them to the creative magic of bringing new things  into the world.

As a working mom with three grown children Linnaea is profoundly sympathetic to the challenges faced by working parents and the need for quality care that provides children with a secure, nurturing environment that scaffolds their development into kind, responsible and creative members of the community.




 Co-Owner

Mike Avenell

Mike Avenell is Little Garden Patch Farm's co-owner, resident handy man, and chief goat wrangler.  When not milking goats or making improvements and repairs on the farm, Mike is a Silicon Valley engineer helping to research  a variety of experimental high tech projects.

Mike is also an ordained interfaith minister who has helped lead family retreats.  He has taught meditation for adults as well as children's interfaith spiritual education.   

Along with wife Linnaea, Mike co-taught their Santa Clara based class Parenting From Compassion and helped lead the Santa Clara chapter of the Earth's Kids KIDS CLUB, a program designed to encourage children and families to enjoy and protect the natural world.  Mike is an experienced volunteer/assistant in K-3 classrooms and treasures his time with the children here at Little Garden Patch.  

 


 Additional Team Members

Assisting with running the After School Care  and Summer Farm Camp programs are....

 

Michelle Avenell

Teacher Michelle is an Environmental Studies graduate from UCSC and a professionally trained educator.  She is an avid community volunteer/educator who has worked extensively with children for many years and she loves sharing her encyclopedic knowledge of nature and animals with children to help them appreciate and defend our natural world. 

Teacher Michelle has led school field trips and summer camps at the Environmental Education Center for the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge,  taught children and adults about marine animals and ecosystems at the Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab,  served as a docent guide for Natural Bridges State Park, and she led Earth's Kids KIDS CLUB nature walks for families.  

Teacher Michelle was also a popular and much requested naturalist at the Little Basin Campground program.  And prior to the onset of the 2020 pandemic, she was an  instructor at W.O.L.F.  -- the Web of Life Field School science camp at Monte Toyon in Aptos.    When not at Little Garden Patch she can be found leading workshops at the Puppetry Institute

As an accomplished professional artist who works in a variety of mediums including oil and acrylic paint, sculpture, computer art, costume design, puppetry, and more, Michelle offers the children at Little Garden Patch valuable tips and instruction in a variety of creative projects.   

She is also our resident expert on all things "My Little Pony"  and "Pokemon".  And this, along with her extensive nature lore and dragon drawing tutorials, has made her extremely popular with the children!

 

Jon Gick

Teacher Jon is a Cabrillo College student who is very popular with the children for his mastery of role playing games and pretend, swordplay, storytelling, cartooning, and puppetry.   He provides a calm, safe presence as an assistant during after school pick-up, and occassionally helps out as a substitute assistant teacher when needed.

 

  

 

 





 Creating a Safe Community

For the children's safety ALL staff and volunteers at Little Garden Patch have been fingerprinted and cleared through an extensive background check with the Santa Cruz Sherrif's Department and the FBI. 

In addition,  each team member has also had their references and health record verified by LGPF's director before their first day on the job.  And, each new staff person must serve an apprenticeship with an established teacher before being given lead supervision duties as they learn the routines and protocols here at Little Garden Patch.

 And lastly, it is our policy to encourage all children to speak up -- to their parents and the other teachers --if anything should happen that makes them feel sad or uncomfortable.  Please support us by encouraging your child to come to you to discuss and process any troubling incident in their lives, whether at home, at school, or at the farm. 

Social learning is the main job of young children.  And gaining new skills in speaking up for themselves, setting fair and healthy boundaries, and in resolving conflicts (no matter how minor it may seem to an adult) will benefit them them both in school and later on as adults.  Thanks for your help!

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