London is world famous for its attractions and exhibitions and this reputation is well deserved as it is home to many of the world’s greatest museums and shows. However, families who prefer to do something which is off the well-trodden tourist route should take a trip to one of London’s urban farms. These farms, which are often community managed and therefore free, are all over the city and allow families to escape the hustle and bustle of Central London and get up close and personal with donkeys, goats, pigs and many other interesting animals.
One of the oldest urban farms in London is Hackney City Farm. The farm has been open for over 20 years and was set up by members of the local community whose aim was to “give youngsters and local people the opportunity to experience farming” . The site which the farm is based on used to be a farmers market in the early 1800s, and it was then converted to West’s Brewery which made beer for the local pubs using water from the on-site well. Since the farm’s opening in 1984 it has grown into a popular community resource which is home to a café, a pottery studio, several goats, rabbits and at least two pigs. Hackney City Farm isn’t just a petting zoo it also holds regular events such as Arts and Crafts classes, jumble sales and yoga groups.
For those who are staying south of the river Surrey Docks Farm works to a very similar ethos to the Hackney Farm and allows families to sample the life of a farm in the very heart of the capital. The 2.2 acre site farm at South Wharf is used by a cross section of the local community who come to the site to learn about animals and take part in some of regular classes such as the New Leaf Project which provides training in horticulture.
If you’d like to get even more agriculturally involved, try a pick-your-own farm. These more extensive farms can’t be found as close to the centre of the city, but head half an hour out of town and you’ll find yourself among the raspberry bushes and apple trees of Parkside Pick Your Own in pretty Hadley Wood. The delicious fruit and vegetables range from juicy tabletop strawberries and different varieties of raspberries, to plump courgettes and beetroots. Fill your basket with the best of the crop, then head to the checkout where you can pick up some locally produced honey and ice cream to finish off your feast.
If you would like to explore more of London’s urban farms then here is a full list.
Header image by Ludamodule via CityFarmer