Cow Barn at Tilden's Little Farm which has reopened to the public after 10 months. Photo: EBRPD
The cow barn at Tilden’s Little Farm which has reopened to the public after 10 months. Photo: EBRPD
The cow barn at Tilden’s Little Farm which has reopened to the public after 10 months. Photo: EBRPD

Nearly 10 months after it closed in order for necessary sewer work to be done, Tilden’s much-loved Little Farm has reopened to the public. The park’s vintage merry-go-round is also spinning again, after being taken over by new management.

The timeline for the sewer construction project was originally five months, but the scope of the work became increasingly large, said David Zuckermann, Supervising Naturalist at East Bay Regional Parks District.

“We originally thought we would be reopening in February,” he said. “But then we had to keep extending that month by month.”

Zuckermann said that it was only when crews began trenching the area that the scale of the job became apparent. “The sewer system is as old as the park, and Tilden, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is one of the three original East Bay parks,” he said. (The other two are Sibley and Lake Temescal.)

During the work, several areas other than the farm were also closed, including Indian Camp parking lot, picnic area, play structure and restroom, and the Big Leaf picnic area and restroom.

Chickens at Tilden Little Farm. Photo: Mary Flaherty
Chickens at Tilden Little Farm. Photo: Mary Flaherty

The work, funding for which was raised by the Measure WW bond passed in 2008, has resulted in a much more environmentally sound sewer system for the farm animals, Zuckermann said, including a 9,000 gallon holding tank which is located near where the park historically offered pony rides.

However, a visitor eagerly returning might not spot any immediate differences, said Zuckermann. Indeed a visitor earlier this week complained to Zuckermann about the long closure and added: “What did you do? I don’t see anything.”

In fact the delays proved beneficial in that they provided more time to get improvements done other than the sewer work, according to Zuckermann. The Nature Center has been repainted and fitted with new carpets, the farm is now fully ADA accessible, there are pedestrian paths in the parking lots, and “brand new, beautifully designed bathrooms,” he said.

Meanwhile, the antique Tilden merry-go-round is also back in action under new management. Terri Oyarzùn and her family, who had managed and operated the 103-year-old carousel since the previous operators retired in 1993, were replaced after their second 10-year contract expired last year. The new operators are Sycamore Concessions Corporation who run Sycamore Concessions, a company with about 50 employees, originally from the Bay Area but currently overseeing operations within Columbia Historic State Park in Tuolumne County.

This story was updated with a correction, namely that Tilden park used to offer pony rides. It doesn’t do so now.

Little Farm, other Tilden areas to close for 5 months (09.24.13)
After 21 years, Tilden merry go round to get new operator (03.03.14)
Tilden merry go round in Berkeley celebrates 100 years (07.25.11)
Tilden’s Merry go round at heart of seasonal spectacular (12.06.11)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...