Farms? In a city? In the biggest city in Britain? Yup, even though London is the thriving metropolis we all know and love, there are farms here. Farms to visit, farms to buy produce from, farms to pet fluffy animals at, farms to go horse riding at and farms to take the kids to. If you’re on a budget, they’re the perfect place to take the family to for the day – just remember to bring everyone home again afterwards.
For those who fancy a bit of nature in the middle of the city, here’s our Six of the Best: Farms in London.
Mudchute Farm and Park: Based in the Isle of Dogs, Mudchute is London’s biggest urban farm, covering 34 acres of parkland. Admission is free, with a load of different things to do – there are huge plant collections (huge in number, not size, we’re not talking triffids here), farm animals, a tea shop and plenty of activities for all ages including the kids' club, duck walks, and horse riding for all levels and ages including complete beginners.
Deen City Farm and Riding School: This farm in the south-west of the city is based on the Morden Hall Park Estate, which is managed by the National Trust. There are plenty of animals for the kids to see and many to pet, including poultry, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, alpacas and horses. Deen City also has a farm shop selling farm produce, gifts and pet supplies, and there’s a café selling fresh food and snacks. Fancy learning some horse riding? The attached riding school has lessons for all levels, in individual and group classes, and there are also lessons in dressage, show jumping or cross country for those who are a bit more experienced with their nags.
Newham City Farm: One of three London farms in the East End, Newham is one of the oldest, established in 1977. Kids can meet Blaze the shire horse as well as pigs, sheep, pygmy goats, birds of prey, cattle and rabbits, or go over to the pond to see the geese and ducks. There are also beehives producing honey to taste, milking displays and horse and cart rides.
Spitalfields City Farm: Another east London farm, Spitalfields has been going since 1978 and is the farm spot in the city for events and fairs. There are the usual farm animals and farm produce for sale, but you can also go to events such as the Sheep and Wool Fayre shearing rare British breeds of sheep, the Eco-chic Outdoor Market, cooking classes, workshops and vegetable growing. For young people living in the city, Spitalfields also run an after school club and a Young Farmers’ Club.
Freightliners City Farm: This is a good option if you want to show the kids a bit more about different types of farming, or learn a bit more about it yourself. Freightliners is a working farm in the middle of Islington which has all sorts of farming activities going on – there’s with an animal village with rare breed animals, a solar dome, a beehive, a sensory garden and straw bale building. Pick up individually handcrafted chicken and rabbit cages in the farm shop, or go along to one of the learning sessions such as the carpentry workshops or the drop in sessions for under-fives.
Kentish Town City Farm: Camden’s normally known for its markets, pubs and gigs, but it’s not much of a surprise to see that it’s got a farm as well. Kentish Town is very much a community based farm, with a Pony Club open to Camden residents aged eight to 16, courses in topics such as pottery and feltmaking, and workshops on gardening run by the Creative Health Lab. The farm itself has pony rides, poultry, horses, two picnic areas, an orchard and a family garden.
Best of all, these London farms are all free. There’s an occasional small charge for things, like £1 for pony rides at Kentish Town, but entry to all of them is free (with donations very welcome).
If you’re still on a nature kick, you can find things to see and do in London – or elsewhere – by using our Wildlife and Nature categories, or by checking out our Six of the Best: London Parks.