City farms aren't just for school trips, and you don't need a little person in tow to qualify for a visit. Need a reason to walk and talk with the animals? We found seven...
Little arrivals are on their way to this Waltham Abbey farm, and you can pay a visit this Easter holiday for their 'baby boom' special. Bottle feed a new born lamb, take a ride on Tex the tractor (sorry, kids only) and meet the meerkats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, rabbits, tortoises and Bearded Dragons that call the farm home (Until April 17).
Stop by on Stepney City Farm Easter Sunday (April 16, 12-3pm) for the family egg hunt and the launch of the new Plant Shop, where they’ll be offering free sowing and growing advice to would-be urban gardeners. For the ‘indoor-sy’ there’s ‘Thursday Knights’, an evening of board games and friendly farmyard competition (April 27 and May 5).
Twirl around the May Pole 'Wicker Man' style at Kentish Town Farm's annual event. This ‘May Day’ festival has its roots in the pagan celebration ‘Beltane’ (as opposed to the day of worker’s rights). Join for pottery making, face painting, cake and BBQ eating and get to know the four-legged Kentish Town crew: baby goats, portly pigs, Easter chicks and piebald ponies. A place where you can legitimately wear wellies less than a ten minutes from Gospel Oak station? Go on then.
Hackney City Farm was built on the site of an old brewery in the mid-80s, and has stood firm through sky-rocketing rents and constant East London change. Along with its famous ginger pigs Pepper and Pearl, the farm's weekly pottery and drawing classes help draw in the crowds. There's a drop-in sketching class led by London Two Pounds Drawing Class in the Frizzante Cafe every Tuesday at 2pm, adult pottery sessions on Wednesdays at 7-9pm and Woodcraft Folk or Mosaic Making (both 7-9pm) on Thursdays. Be warned, Pepper and Pearl have very high standards.
If you haven’t already, prepare to go guilt-vegetarian as you come face-to-face with some achingly cute little lambs at Woodland Farm Trust (April 9). Born this spring, these baby bleaters will be all wobbly legged and ready for bottle feeding from some country-starved Londoners. You can also buy locally-produced food at decent prices, join craft activities and watch these balls of fluff flouncing through the fields.
Fancy yourself as a country apothecary? Join the Wild Medicine Walk on Surrey Docks Farm, where you’ll learn to identify medicinal plants with Forage Botanicals and turn them into ‘seasonal remedies’ (June 10). Just don’t go brewing up any Half-Blood Prince concoctions. Or, you could just go and tell your troubles to a guinea pig.
Spitalfields City Farm is home to the inimitable Oxford v Cambridge Goat Race (if you haven’t heard of it, correct yourself immediately with our comprehensive Goat Race Guide), which took place on Sunday April 2. We'll have to wait until 2018 for the next one, but there's still plenty going on. On Saturday June 11, you can take part in the ‘Sheep & Wool Fayre’, a day of sheep shearing and woolly craft. And make some time to say hello to Bayleaf the donkey, East London’s prize ass.
Can't find your local farmyard? Try our City Farm guide.