Connolly Ranch is a rich reminder of Napa’s agricultural past. In her will, Peggy Connolly donated the property to the Land Trust of Napa County in order to preserve the 12-acre farm from encroaching development. Since 1991, Connolly Ranch has been fulfilling its mission of connecting kids and families to nature through farm-based education, and serving the Napa Valley as a unique educational center providing hands-on experiences for children of all ages.
Connolly Ranch is a unique education center and 501(c) 3 nonprofit made possible through the support of generous individuals, foundation grants, in-kind donations and many volunteer hours. All activities offered to the public are free or subsidized including summer camps and early childhood education programs.
A working farm needs constant upkeep, from caring for the animals to periodic repairs and upgrades of fences, barns, coops and animal shelters. In addition to ongoing maintenance and repair. Here at Connolly Ranch we are thrilled to be connecting more guests to nature by opening for free each month, expanding field trips, adding new events and doubling visitors at our Harvest Festival but as we do this we need to upgrade our facility. We hope to continue to offer enriching farm-based experiences for our visitors by investing in materials that last longer and enhance educational areas.
Check out our current Fund-a-Need drive for new sand in our sandpits here.
OUR WISH LISTS
FROM YOUR GARAGE, SHED or YARD:
– wheelbarrows (of any size) or garden carts
– garden tools (shears & pruning tools, pitchforks, trowels, shovels, hoes, fruit-tree picker, hand-saws, etc.)
– power tools: chainsaw, leaf-blower, weed-eater, skill-saw, electric hedge trimmer
– metal detector
– organic fertilizers, ammendments, potting soils
– 5 gallon plastic buckets
– milk crates
– shade umbrellas and stands
– sets of pavers or flagstone for walkways
– picnic tables & benches
– old paintbrushes
-any size pet carriers or crates
– sturdy garden trellises, small wooden ladders or structures for vertical gardening
– plastic totes (like Rubbermaids) with lids
– watering cans, hose attachments or spray nozzles
– half-size wine barrels or large containers for plants
– kid-sized tables or chairs (outdoor or indoor)
– plastic tarps (any size) & moving blankets
– power drill & bits (electric or battery)
– used golf cart of Gator 🙂
OFFICE OR CRAFT CLOSET:
– chalk boards & pens, or dry-erase boards & markers
– hot glue guns
– electric pencil sharpener
– clip boards
– craft ribbons
– acrylic paints
– permanent markers, highlighters, pens, post-its, misc. office supplies
– card-stock or heavier weight paper (can have printing on one side – for example old restaurant menus)
– food dehydrator or pressure canner
– restaurant style “hotel pans” & “sheet pans”
– metal or glass cookware (muffin tins, cookie sheets, baking dishes, cake pans, loaf pans)
– plastic or metal serving spoons, spatulas, bowls, pans, measuring cups, measuring spoons
– microwave-safe containers, plates & bowls
– ceramic coffee mugs
– box graters, garlic press, rolling pins, mortar & pestle
– metal forks, spoons, butter knives
-XL hot coffee carafes/thermoses for events
– apple spiralizers
– electric citrus juicer
– cooking pots and lids
– rain gear (adult size)
– toddler clothes
– rain boots
– kids’ backpacks
– 3-10 yr old kid-sized pants (cotton or jeans), socks, underwear
– kids’ brimmed hats or caps
– vinyl tablecloths
– clothes pins
– beauty tweezers (for seed-starting)
– decorative fabrics & tapestries, tablecloths, picnic blankets
– card-stock paper (can have printing on one side – for example old restaurant menus)
– strawberry baskets
– egg cartons
– shredded paper (to feed our worms!)
– baby food jars and lids
– film canisters & lids
Please call the office (707) 501-8299 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any items to donate!
Connolly Ranch Parking Lot – COMPLETED!
The parking lot at Connolly Ranch, used by all guests to the ranch, suffers from uneven surfaces as well as muddy conditions during inclement weather. Upgrading with gravel and the addition of drains would make it safer and more convenient for guests.
Estimated cost: $20,000
UPDATE: BIG THANK YOU to the Mondavis, Renterias and Truchards
Connolly Ranch Has a New Parking Lot
Special thanks to Lydia and Rob Mondavi, Denise and Oscar Renteria, and Michele and John Truchard for their very generous donation of time, labor, equipment and materials to upgrade Connolly Ranch’s parking lot to make it safer and more accessible for guests. The parking lot, used by all guests to the ranch, was essentially a dirt field—vegetation and shrubs were removed long ago to allow for parking, however, during wet months, the lot would become muddy and unusable. These three families brought in a crew to clean things up, compress the soil with a compacter so gravel will have a firm base, spread gravel and install a French drain so water will be diverted from parking area. Ultimately, this allows the Ranch to increase programming, providing year-round opportunities for the community.
Painting and minor repairs for “Little Barn,” Office and Farm House
Periodic inspection and maintenance are necessary investments to preserve any property, and Connolly Ranch is no exception. Exposure to the elements eventually affects all structures. Over time, sun, rain, wind and temperature changes have an adverse effect on roofs, windows, doors, paint, wood and other building materials. All structures on the ranch are currently in need of painting.
Estimated cost: $20,000
Patio Arbor – IN PROGRESS
Connolly Ranch currently covers the patio arbor each summer with a tent rented from a local party rental company— at significant annual expense. The tent provides shade in the summer months for summer camp programs and other activities but is too costly to keep in place during the winter months to protect the patio space from rain, thus limiting use of that space during the winter. A permanent structure would allow the patio to be used year-round, while at the same time eliminating a large annual expense.
Estimated cost: $30,500
UPDATE: A BIG THANK YOU to Peter and Christy Palmisano for granting Connolly Ranch $10,000 through the Napa Valley Community Foundation to cover the cost of materials for this project.
Outdoor Commercial Kitchen – FUNDED! IN PROCESS
Farm-to-table cooking is integral to Connolly Ranch’s programming. Currently, the ranch must rely on a makeshift kitchen featuring plug-in burners, hot plates and a portable stove for its farm-to-table classes and summer camps. An outdoor commercial kitchen with commercial-grade equipment would allow these programs to expand, and would also support fundraisers, enhanced adult programming and other events at the ranch.
Estimated cost: $65,000
A BIG THANK YOU to New York Community Trust for granting Connolly Ranch $65,000 for this project.
In a drought-prone state, it is important to find options to minimize water use. Connolly Ranch needs to upgrade its irrigation and drip lines to maintain the ranch and gardens in an efficient and economical way. In addition to using less water, drip or micro-irrigation helps maintain a desirable balance of air and water in the soil, supporting better plant growth, With this investment, the gardens would save water and money while providing more produce and setting an example for the children and adults who participate in programs at the ranch.
Estimated cost: $25,000
Connolly Ranch has a large, commercial-grade greenhouse on its property that at present is used for growing vegetables year-round and protecting crops from excess cold or heat and unwanted pests. The ranch would like to integrate greenhouse activities into its educational programs for youth and adults, but to do so needs to invest in developing a curriculum and instructional materials. Educational programs at the greenhouse could be used to introduce participants to concepts of water movement, pollination, and nutrition in an inviting space.
Estimated cost: $15,000
The City of Napa recently followed in the footsteps of Napa County and passed an ordinance allowing beekeeping inside the city limits. With bee populations on the decline due to environmental stress, the advent of local beekeeping presents a way to help boost dwindling bee populations as well as an educational opportunity. Connolly Ranch is developing a strong bee education program at beginning and advanced levels for youth and adults focused on helping them raise strong, healthy bees. The programs have begun, but the roof on the apiary (bee yard) still needs to be completed and beekeeping materials must be purchased.
Estimated cost: $25,000
Duck Pond/Wetland Habitat Rehabilitation – ONGOING
The existing duck pond offers Connolly Ranch the opportunity to create an educational experience to teach children and adults about plants and animals in a natural wetland habitat. Plans to create this include rehabilitating the pond to promote improved water quality and create habitats of varying depth to support wetland vegetation, fish and other species. After repairs and installation of a small, solar-powered recirculation pump, an existing well could be used to facilitate water movement. Other needed improvements include a weir structure in order to better manage water levels and vegetation within the pond, grading of the island and pond edges to gentle slopes that waterfowl can easily access and construction of a trail around the pond perimeter with interpretive signage to guide visitors through the different environments.
Estimated cost: $50,000
More and more people are raising their own poultry for eggs and meat in backyard coops, and as a result, interest in heritage breeds of poultry is also growing rapidly. Connolly Ranch hopes to construct a new poultry house and engage Jim Adkins, a sustainable poultry specialist and leader in the heritage movement, to expand programs at the ranch. This topic fits naturally with Connolly Ranch’s focus; nevertheless, it represents a significant shift, providing an opportunity for the ranch to step into a leadership role in educating adults who want to take up this new activity, as well as children. A curriculum and educational materials must be developed. Classes would likely focus on sustainable breeding and reproducing heritage poultry for eggs and meat, and could include everything from how to identify breeds, to the life cycle of poultry, to tips on creating an environment for maximum natural production.
Estimated cost: $45,000
Leadership in Environmental Practices
With its focus on connecting people to nature, Connolly Ranch can and should be a leader in sustainable environmental practices. Besides demonstrating the ranch’s proper stewardship of the environment, installing appropriate technology will pay off in reduced operating expenses well into the future. Needed upgrades include:
Solar power: $20,000
Wind power: $10,000
Rainwater collection system: $10,000
High efficiency water system: $20,000
On-demand water heating: $8,000