Future of Broken Road Farm in question

The city recently decided to limit large commercial events at the popular Broken Road Farm.

The 2-acre Minnesota Avenue farm blossomed into a local favorite last year for its array of fun and educational farm themes, composting, garden and other small-group events. But city officials recently notified the owners Sara and Greg Mires that current zoning regulations and COVID-19 restrictions prohibit large commercial activities on the property.

The revelation means farm events that drew as many as 100 visitors must now be noncommercial and reduced to about 10 people.

Brentwood Assistant City Manager Terrence Grindall confirmed that city staff will seek council input on potential future zoning updates in February.

“We may allow more home occupations if the council gives us direction in that area,” Grindall said. “That really is what this is. (Mires) lives (on the farm) and she does some occupation, so if the council allows that, then some limited commercial (activities) with conditions may be allowed, but we still need to get council input on that.”

The possible future zoning alterations are a ray of potential hope for the farm fans, who have fallen in love with its offerings.

“Maybe one day, we will be able to be a City of Brentwood business, but for now we can’t,” said Sara, who began hosting the COVID-safe events shortly after the pandemic took hold. “We are just trying to get the word out to try to make this type of environment a priority.”

Sara and Greg are hopeful that the community’s love for the site will sprout positive changes. Broken Road supporters have written at least 50 letters of support for the farm that will likely be used to petition for future change.

Local resident Danielle Williams, whose daughter volunteers at the farm, said it’s in a convenient location and promotes a sense of community.

“It’s good, especially during all of this quarantine,” Williams said. “It’s outdoors, you can remain socially distanced, and it gives the kids a little sense of purpose. We really liked it.”

Fellow resident Leigh Burns Quan agrees.

“Nowhere in this area can families and children learn what farming and ranching entails quite like they can at Broken Road,” Burns Quan said. “Our city was built on the backs of the farming community, and it is so important for the next generation to understand and appreciate that way of life. This farm is a window into our city history, while being just what modern kids and families need.”

Sara said she’s willing to do whatever is needed to continue her beloved endeavor that has morphed into a labor of love.

The Mireses eyed and eventually purchased the property in 2019. Sara, having never owned a farm or farm animals besides chickens, began volunteering at a Walnut Creek mini horse rescue to gain experience. Within a month, she was lugging home two donkeys and a blind goat of her own.

“It just kind of slowly started from there,” said Sara, whose animal crew now also includes mini Highland cows, chickens and ducks. “We started to slowly figure out what we were doing.”

As the pandemic struck, Mires said the animals and farm life served as a safe sanctuary for activity-starved children and adults looking to escape a cooped-up lifestyle.

“I said I will start making things here, then we grew very quickly,” Sara said. “It went from providing some safe fun for a few people to people wanting to reserve spots and things being sold out.”

For more information about Broken Road Farm, visit www.facebook.com/brokenroadfarmca.

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