Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Gathered Oak Farm enriches young minds

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

Along the western edge of Olive Hill Road in Fallbrook, there's a 2.5-acre farm that is growing a very special crop. Nick and Mindy Kinnier bought the property in May 2021 with the vision of creating an educational experience, centered around nature and farm life, to help in the development of young minds.

The couple, who moved here from Orange County, transformed the 2,000 square-foot-barn into a classroom for Gathered Oak Farm, which has found a niche as being an enrichment facility for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. It's grown to handle 25-30 children in each program and there's a growing waiting list of parents, many with students in charter schools.

"We're not a school," emphasized Nick, who handles the business and property management/maintenance. "We're an enrichment program. Parents can select programs that are one, two or three days a week for grades K-5. All the students are homeschooling, many in charter schools."

Mindy oversees the educational program. She and all the lead teachers are credentialed. It's not required for some of the elective classes, she noted.

Yes, there is a garden that the children get to see grow, and baby chicks that will be hatching before long, and more animals are planned, but the students also have activities/classes in art, karate, cooking, science and theater. Language arts, social studies and math lessons/concepts are covered.

"We have chairs like a classroom, but we believe in tactical engagement, or learning by doing," Nick said.

Most of the classes are held in the open barn that is cooled with swamp coolers.

Nick said he grew up in the Central Valley and his parents were teachers. He remembers outdoors experiences in his formative years as being important in his development. Mindy shared about her family farm in Pennsylvania and love for the outdoors.

They met at Biola University and settled in Orange County. Mindy became a teacher and a pastor. They were homeschooling before COVID-19, but during the pandemic they were outside a lot and spending a lot of time in Fallbrook visiting Mindy's family.

"That led us to start dreaming about moving here to have more land and start an outdoor education program," she said.

Mindy's sister and her family live in Fallbrook and one day after visiting, the Kinniers drove by Olive Hill and noticed a property that seemed ideal for their dream. They were interested – before it was for sale – so when it went on the market, they moved quickly to buy the property.

They moved onto the property in May 2021 and after a lot of clean-up, opened Gathered Oak Farm five months later with their children – Silas, 9, and Junia, 6 – along with her sister's two kids and about five other children starting the program.

"We added on several more students throughout October and November as we became a vendor with a couple of charter schools, but the program really grew after an info session we had in early December that attracted many families from all over Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton. We filled up that night with all the sign-ups," Mindy said.

Gathered Oak Farm is currently a vendor with Pacific Coast Academy, Mission Vista Academy, Cabrillo Point Academy, Coastal Academy, and Compass Charter Schools.

It really sprouted once they were certified as an approved vendor to offer enrichment classes for four area charter schools. Parents in the charter schools receive a stipend for electives and enrichment programs. Now, about three quarters of their students are through charter schools.

Mindy has experience in both public and charter schools.

"The vision of the program has remained constant, but the programming has changed as we've been able to add more classes and farm school days," she said.

Nick said there is never more than 30 children at a time. There is a healthy 6:1 to 9:1 teacher ratio depending on the class.

"We believe that education should be a beautiful and fun-filled experience for all children, so our lessons incorporate art, STEM, music, movement and nature," Mindy said. "We know that children learn in all different ways and that there is not a one-size-fits-all way of teaching."

The farm is in the 3900 block of Olive Hill Road with a gated fence and large barn in front of their home. For more information, visit


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