Welcome to Martial Cottle park, Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department’s newest urban park. Every year the park will come alive in the spring and summer with the vibrant colors of wild flowers and the sweet flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables. All of this comes with an emphasis on organic farming incorporating the latest in water conservation techniques and ongoing community education.
Jacobs Farm is a leader in organic farming is partnering with County Parks for the long term organic agricultural production and education project initially covering 180 acres or nearly half of the entire ranch. The produce grown will then be on sale to the public at the farm stand on-site. It is a rare opportunity to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to the community directly from “field to fork.”
The rest of the park will be shared with other agricultural production and educational pursuits. Cooperative Partners such as City of San Jose Community Gardens, UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, 4H and an urban forestry program will share parts of the 287 acre property.
Many would question the logic of increasing agricultural production in the middle of arguably the worst drought in California history. The answers are both simple and more detailed. The acquisition of Martial Cottle Park and the design of its’ long term agricultural and educational plan have been in the works for many years, long before the onset of the California Drought. Water, along with scarce land and labor, are the three most difficult issues facing farmers today. In the farming industry tough times drive the need for innovation.
Now Martial Cottle Park has become the showcase for that innovation. Jacobs Farm will be “Dry Farming” Heirloom and Early Girl tomatoes. The crops will need some water to get established initially but will then be grown up to harvest time without a drop of water. Other featured crops at Martial Cottle will include melons, cherries, stone fruit, summer and winter squash, corn, pumpkins, culinary herbs and fresh cut flowers. Many of the flowers are considered the organic farmers’ best friends because they encourage the beneficial activities of insects and butterflies.
Martial Cottle Park will host a number of seasonal celebrations like a Fall Harvest Festival, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and Christmas trees for the holiday season. Reservations for the group areas are year-round. View here for the most recent version of the park’s newsletter.
HISTORY OF THE MARTIAL COTTLE FAMILY RANCH
Established by Edward Cottle in 1864 and continually maintained and farmed by his descendants until 2014, this land remained in agricultural production under one family for 150 years. Martial Cottle Park now celebrates our shared agricultural heritage and how the tradition of farming and sharing food continues to shape our landscape, people and history.
Vermont-born Edward Cottle emigrated from Missouri to Santa Clara County by wagon in 1854 and settled near Coyote Creek. Ten years later he purchased a portion of Rancho Santa Teresa from the Bernal family and began raising milk cows and cattle, and planting grain and row crops. Edward later divided the land between his two sons, Martial and Warren. Martial Cottle’s approximately 350-acre parcel remained in agriculture with his descendants living and farming there until 2014, when his last living heir, Walter Cottle Lester passed away.
As the agricultural economy of the Santa Clara Valley changed, so did the products of the Cottle ranch and farm. From cattle and dairy pastures to wheat fields and row crops, this land helped sustain the valley’s growing population and changing agriculture markets. During World War I and again in the 1920s and 30s, portions of the ranch were leased to Japanese tenant farmers who grew sugar beets, onions, carrots, peppers and strawberries.
Although large-scale fruit orchards symbolic of Santa Clara County’s agricultural history were not planted here, there were some plum, apricot, cherry, quince and apple trees. The Cottles and Lesters did, however, manage large fruit orchards on other family-owned properties around the valley.
In order to maintain its agricultural history and preserve this land for future generations, the Cottle-Lester family withstood the pressures of urban development and turned down fortunes offered by developers. In 2003 Walter Cottle Lester, in accordance with his mother Ethel’s wishes, transferred his remaining 287 acres to the State and County for development of a public park that informs and educates the public about the agricultural heritage of the Santa Clara Valley.
Quote from a 2013 San Jose Mercury News interview with Walter Cottle Lester:
“I was born here. I’ve spent my entire life here. It would be nice for kids in future generations to know what it was like before it all changed.”
How to Get There
Martial Cottle Park is located at:
5283 Snell Ave San Jose, CA 95136
Park Office: (408) 535-4060
From Highway 85 South, take the Blossom Hill Rd exit and turn left on Blossom Hill Rd. Travel approximately 0.5 miles and turn left onto Snell Ave. Travel approximately 0.5 miles and turn left on Chynoweth Ave. The perimeter trail is accessible from Chynoweth Ave and the corner of Branham and Snell.
The trail system offers recreational opportunities for walkers, joggers, bicyclists, skaters, non-motorized scooters and roller bladers. Equestrians and dogs on 6-foot leash are also welcome on the trail. Please pick up after your pets.
Deed restrictions prohibit the use of lawns for organized sports activities.
Hours and Fees
The park is open year-round from 8 a.m. until sunset. Vehicle entry fees are collected year-round. Fees are required for vehicle entrance, and for use of group picnic areas. Fees are posted at the entrance station.
Access fees information here: Vehicle Entry Fees, Group Picnic Sites Fees
Visitor Center Hours
Wednesday - Friday: 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Monday & Tuesday: Closed to the Public
In compliance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ('ADA'), the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its programs, services, or activities. The Department will make reasonable modifications to policies and programs to ensure that people with disability have an equal opportunity to enjoy our programs, services, facilities, and activities. If you need assistance with an ADA request, please contact our ADA Coordinator.