Escape the stresses of city life by ducking into one of London’s best kept secrets – the urban farm. The city is peppered with these precious sanctuaries where city dwellers can reconnect with nature, meet some animals and experience the simplicity of farm life. No car? No problem. Remarkably all of these animal farms are a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle and fully accessible by tube. Here is our list of the best farms in London.
Please note – most of these farms offer free admission but rely on donations to stay open and continue to offer outreach opportunities for schools, young people and those with special needs as well as the wider community.
Vauxhall City Farm
Turn left off of Kennington Lane and you will find a modest oasis in the heart of Vauxhall, Central London. This is a small but excellently maintained farm with an impressive onsite cafe too. Frequented by lunching local office workers and a steady trickle of toddlers and their carers, the farm is unexpected and full of charm.
Aside from being just a lovely pitstop for lunch and animal encounters, Vauxhall city farm does important outreach and is a beacon for education and change in the local borough of Lambeth.
A variety of animals – Goats, horses, alpacas, pigs, chickens and sheep all live here under the watchful eye of the farm’s friendly and welcoming staff. When we visited we were lucky enough to meet a 5 day old lamb. Animal feed is available and we particularly enjoyed feeding the charismatic alpacas. The farm also has a vegetable garden although this was closed during our visit.
Aspiring show jumper or jockey? You may already know Vauxhall City Farm for its riding School. Here beginner horse riders from 8 years can enjoy lessons both during the week an on Sundays. Adult beginners also welcome.
Despite its small size the farm is a real hub of activity with events all year round including a very popular ‘Santa’s Grotto’. On weekends you can enjoy ‘cuddle corner’, a chance to pet the animals in a small group (£4) and if you happen to visit in the evening you may be tempted to stay for a beer at Faith’s Place , the farms licensed summer bar.
Looking for your ideal toddler birthday party venue? Vauxhall City Farm also offers a pretty compelling Party Package.
Vauxhall City Farm, 165 Tyers St SE11
Free entry, Closed Mondays
Spitalfields City Farm
Nestled between graffiti murals and the overground train line and moments from the bustle of Brick lane, you will find goats grazing in the shadow of the city of Londons Square mile. Another unexpected find, Spitalfields City farm has a rural festival feel albeit in the heart of East London. A carefully curated relaxed scruffiness that oozes charm.
The farm came about in 1978 in response to the local community’s demand for allotment space. It wasn’t long before these tended personal gardens gave way to chickens and other livestock. The farm maintains this dedication to serving its local community, providing education opportunities to adults and children nearby.
We visited midweek in the early morning when the farm was extremely quiet but for the beautifully colourful saris of the Bangladeshi women tending to the Coriander Kitchen. This farm is cherished by its local people and is a big hit with school children and preschoolers.
The farm houses pigs, Shetland ponies and goats as well as small animals – chickens and rabbits etc. The allotment style community gardens are fabulously vibrant juxtaposed against the frequent intrusion of the overground trains zooming past. The tree house also proved a big hit with my four year old. There is a lovely seating area for Summer picnics and some exciting kids cooking events scheduled for the half term.
Spitalfields City Farm, Buxton St E1
Free Entry, Closed Monday
Deen City Farm
Deen City Farm is a five acre site and purpose built real working farm with gardens and riding school within the National Trust’s Morden Park Hall. It is one of London’s oldest City farms.
The farms houses all the usual farm animals and is dedicated to education about rural living and farm life. This is reflected in its offering of reasonably priced riding lessons and one day holiday camps. The ‘Young Farmer day’ experience (£38) and ‘Own a Pony day’ are a great wholesome and healthy activity days to consider for the school holidays.
This is a small farm but a visit here works really well in combination with the leafy Morden Park Hall where children will enjoy paddling in the stream, exploring the natural playground or marvelling at the towering reed in its mini wetland walkway.
There is also a cafe onsite.
Deen City Farm, 39 Windsor Avenue SW19
Free entry, Closed Mondays ( Except Bank Holidays)
Hounslow Urban Farm
Two miles south of Heathrow Airport, Hounslow Urban Farm is home to a huge variety of farm animals including alpacas,goats, ponies, owls, some gargantuan pigs and a few birds of prey. The farm also provides refuge for smuggled, abused and imported exotic animals. Many of these are now the stars of ‘Animal Encounters’ – a 20min meet and greet petting zoo where you can hold a snake and stroke a cockroach. This was an unforgettable experience for my toddler and alone warranted the ticket price.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the indoor bouncy castle and outdoor picnic areas. The Hounslow city farm has clearly seen better days but it still makes for a great summer outing for those in the neighbourhood. Onsite cafe available.
Hounslow Urban Farm, Faggs Rd TW14
Adults £7.50 Children 2-16yrs; £6
Kentish Town City Farm
Squeezed between two busy train lines, the Kentish Town City farm is small but bursting with character. Lovingly kept, this quaint little farm is home to goats, horses, chickens, guinea pigs, pigs and ponies not forgetting one of the largest cows you have ever seen.
We visited on a weekday when the farm was quiet but for the excited shrieks of a school visit and a slow procession of prams and preschoolers. This farm is all about outreach and community and you can expect a warm welcome.
A perfect place for members of the local community to come and while away a half hour or so reconnecting with nature. keep an eye out for special events including tots clubs, yoga and mini festival days.
Kentish Town City Farm, 1 Cressfield Close NW5
Other Places to see farm animals in London
Towards the far South East of London do also check out Mudchute Farm, on the Isle of Dogs, Stepney City Farm and Surrey docks farm, three fabulous community farms with generous green spaces in full view of Canary wharf and the financial lungs of the city.
It may also be worth mentioning the Horniman Museum where a mini farm can be found towards the back of the grounds – schedule your visit on a Sunday and you will also enjoy the famous Farmers Market.
Battersea Park Zoo is another great option for catching a farm animal or two in addition to its more exotic meerkats and lemurs. Together with its huge sandpit and playgrounds this makes for a great full day out.
Happy to travel beyond the city? Check out this article : The Best Family Farms in West London and Beyond