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Spina Farms, a pumpkin patch and fruit stand that has served as a cornerstone of green space on the southern edge of San Jose for nearly 80 years, will reopen next month in the heart of Santa Clara County’s Coyote Valley.

A change in zoning rules and the termination of a previous lease have jeopardized the future of the legendary longtime farm. But thanks to a new deal with the Santa Clara Valley Open Spaces Authority, the South Bay favorite will begin welcoming visitors again next month, just a quarter mile south of its previous location.

Spina Farm is part of the historical and cultural picture of the Coyote Valley. This place touched the hearts of many generations of people who identify with the valley of delight of the heart, and the thought of this disappearance was shameless,” said Andrea McKenzie, general manager of Open Space Authority.

Spina Farms was founded by John and Linda Spina in the 1940s in the Coyote Valley, a largely undeveloped area used for agriculture, wildlife connections, and recreational activities such as hiking and biking. The fruit stand and pumpkin patch have changed hands several times over the past decade, most recently in 2019 by business partners Gary Tonetti and Paul Mirassu.

Late last year, the San Jose City Council unanimously approved a series of land use changes designed to indefinitely protect much of the North and Middle Coyote Valley from major development. Following the move, the owners of the land where Spina Farms has been located for decades — at the intersection of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Bailey Avenue — told the farm and pumpkin patch operators that its lease would not be renewed.

The fruit stand has been closed since late last year, and since then, according to Tonetti, it has received “nothing but phone calls from people asking when it will open again.”

Tonetti and Miraso initially considered moving the operation to Gilroy but did not want to lose their roots in the valley.

Under a new lease signed with the Open Spaces Authority, which aims to preserve open valley farmland, the Spina Farms fruit stand is due to open in July near the intersection of Laguna Avenue and Santa Teresa Boulevard. Spina Farms’ annual pumpkin patch is scheduled to take place from September 26 to November 6 on the same 60-acre site, allowing operators to double the size of their pumpkin patch and corn maze this fall.

“I am very happy to work with Open Space,” Tonetti said. “They are working towards the same goals as me – saving agriculture and land and keeping farms alive.”

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER.  10: Flowers grow along Bailey Avenue in the Coyote Valley area of ​​south San Jose, California on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, in a field proposed as a location for a new storage facility.  (Carl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE, CA – NOVEMBER. 10: Flowers grow along Bailey Avenue in the Coyote Valley area of ​​south San Jose, California on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, in a field proposed as a location for a new storage facility. (Carl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

The Open Space Administration – in partnership with the California Department of Conservation, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and the Santa Clara County Planning Department – bought 60 acres of farmland from WP Investments, LLC. for $3 million in October 2021. The purpose of this acquisition was to introduce sustainable, climate-friendly farming practices in the Coyote Valley.

Conservation organizations in the Coyote Valley’s wildlands, including the Office of Open Space and the Palo Alto-based nonprofit Peninsula Open Space Trust, say it’s critical to protect the region’s water quality and wildlife, expand recreational opportunities for the community, and support small farmers. Covering a total of 7,400 acres, Coyote Valley is the last remaining open valley floor in the Bay Area where wildlife can migrate between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range, and this naturally allows storm water to seep into the groundwater below rather than rushing down Coyote Creek and inundating areas in downtown San Jose, as they did during the major floods of 2017.

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