16 City Farms to visit in London

by LondonDucklings
16 City Farms to visit in London

Urban city farming is increasingly seen as an essential part of sustainable living in the city. As a family living in Central London passionate about green space, we have visited and reviewed ALL of London’s 16 city farms. We hope our reviews will inspire you to get your wellies on and discover some of London’s hidden farming gems!

Most of London’s city farms are admission-free community farms dependent on volunteers and funding from the local boroughs as well as private donations. Independently of our rankings, we encourage Londoners to join and support their local farm to help improve them even further. There is no question of the real value in any of the farms on our list, offering children the chance to experience farm life and engage with animals from an early age. The best farm is often the one closest to you!

Types of farms in London

We have divided the 16 London city farms into three distinct categories:

  1. Community Farms (10): Farms mainly run by locals registered as charities with free admission while dependent on support from volunteers, funding from the borough and private donations.
  2. Farms run by Capel Manor College (3): Capel Manor College is a college providing courses in farming and animal-care leading to nationally recognised qualifications. Farms under management double down as student training grounds while remaining admission free for the public. 
  3. Private farms (3): These are commercially-run farms, usually charging £6.50-£10 per adult. The ticket price often includes activities that you would otherwise need to book and pay for separately on community farms. 

Map of London’s city farms 

As you can see from our map, there are urban city farms in most corners of London, although the majority in the Eastern side of the city. Use the map to find a farm near you, and read more it in our description below.


The number assigned to each farm is corresponding with its ranking from the list below

Things to do at city farms

A key purpose of the community farms is to engage Londoners in farmyard activities. Here are some examples of things you can do with kids at the farms:

  • Feeding animals
  • Young farmers club
  • Adopting an animal
  • Horse riding lessons
  • Donkey rides
  • Harvesting
  • Petting small animals
  • Tractor rides
  • Arts and craft sessions
  • Gardening

The community farms also depend on volunteers from mucking out the stables to administrative tasks maintaining their website. Some of these job roles are for adults only, while some accept older kids from 14 or 16 years of age.

How we have rated the farms

We have rated the farms based on four main criteria:

  1. Fun for kids: Can the kids interact with the animals? Can they get close enough? Is it possible to feed the animals
  2. Parents friendliness: Is it safe to let kids explore on their own? Can you sit down somewhere and have a picnic? Are the signs informative? Does the cafe offer healthy food options for kids
  3. Facilities: How are the baby-change facilities? Are there stations to wash hands? How are the facilities for the animals? Do they have enough space? Is the cafe clean?
  4. Value: Is the entrance-fee or activity fee worth it? Is parking expensive? Are the lunch options being offered affordable? 

Now to the list, starting with the top: 


Child looking at pig at animal farm

At Mudchute farm chances are high you will find your favourite farm animal!

1. Mudchute Farm

The closest you get to a real farm in London

Tower Hamlets E14

Spacious community farm with happy animals
Area with small animals popular with the smallest kids
Lots of organised activities for the local community
Limited healthy alternatives on the Cafe menu
No dedicated parking

In our opinion, Mudchute is the best city farm in London for two main reasons. First and foremost the animals have lots of space which we believe is also vital for their welfare. In comparison, some of the smaller urban farms in London feel more like petting zoos with animals on display in tiny pens. At Mudchute, kids can simply experience a more realistic version of a real countryside farm. Secondly, the activities that kids can enjoy on the farm are extensive. Ranging from riding lessons and forest school to after school club and nursery, the farm is making a real difference for children in the area.

Read our full review of Mudchute Farm


Goat on Vauxhall City Farm

2. Vauxhall City Farm

Small but popular city farm

Lambeth SE11

Charming cafe, popular with local families in the weekend
Easy to reach just next to Vauxhall tube station
For it’s size the number of activities are really impressive
The range of animals is limited, it’s really quick to go through the farm
The small space can make it really crowded during weekends and school holidays

Vauxhall farm covers an area of only ¾ of an acre, so it’s really small but yet very popular. Free entry but donations help towards the running costs on this charming little farm. Buying animal feed is really cheap (20p from the machine). There is a petting area perfect for young kids where they can hold smaller animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, chicks, lambs) £2 per child for 10mins. Horse riding available. Cosy and small café (not always open). Buggy park. Eco garden. Clean toilets. When available you can buy fresh hen/duck eggs – £2 for 6.

Read our in-depth Vauxhall City Farm review


Boy feeding sheep

Surrey Docks Farm is a great place for kids to feed sheep

3. Surrey Docks Farm

Charming city farm on the Thames Path

Rotherhithe SE16

Well planned out farm, easy for kids to explore
Great locaton on the Thames Path
A cornerstone in local community life
The farm has been without a cafe for a long period
The woodlands part has been closed off

Surrey Docks Farm is a local community farm in Rotherhithe. The location is stunning with views of the Thames and Canary Wharf on the other side of the river. You’ll find all the usual animals from goats and sheep to cows and smaller fussy friends like guinea pigs and rabbits. The farm is small, but it’s well planned out so you can spend quite a bit of time if taking the whole round around the farm. Kids can safely run around, the farm is tidy and there are several washing stations available. Note that the farm is quite far from the nearest tube / overground station (Canada Water/Surrey Quays). Facilities are being upgraded, and we are looking forward to the cafe opening.

Read our Surrey Docks Farm review


Hackney City Farm

Experience East London vibes on Hackney Farm

4. Hackney City Farm

Perfect for a Sunday mooch

Hackney E2

Great food and atmosphere in the on-site Frizzante cafe
Relaxed vibe with animals roaming around freely
Excellent pitstop as part of exploring East London
A bit chaotic in terms of layout
No organised feeding

Hackney City Farm is a family-friendly spot in East London. The facilities might not be in tip-top shape, and the range of animals could be better, but we still think it’s a great farm to visit. Chickens and ducks are roaming around in the farmyard, which is great fun for the kids, and we really enjoy the laid back atmosphere during weekends. The popular Frizzante farm cafe serves delicious rustic dishes based on homegrown produce. With the great vibe of East London, the opportunity to get close to animals and the lovely farm cafe, this is one of our favourites.

Read the Hackney City Farm review 


Sheep at Spitalfields Farm

5. Spitalfields City Farm

A slice of the countryside next to Brick Lane

Tower Hamlets E1

Animal care and welfare
Playground for young kids
Clean and well-run farm
Parking is really difficult
Signs around the farm could be more informative

Spitalfields farm is not very big, but the available space has been utilised well. You can easily spend up to a couple of hours with a toddler exploring the animals and the play areas. The farm seems well organised, much cleaner and tidier than some of the larger farms. The cafe sells basic but delicious fresh dishes, and there is seating available if you bring your food. The animals are well looked after, and the staff are friendly and helpful.

Read our in-depth review of Spitalfields Farm


Riding a pony at Deen City Farm

There are plenty of pony and horse riding offers on Deen City Farm

6. Deen City Farm

South West London’s only community farm

Wimbledon SW19

A good range of animals
Regular meet & greet animal sessions
Riding school (both horses & ponies)
Confusing website in terms of pricing and options for activities
Very basic options on the menu in the farm cafe

As the only community farm in South West London, Deen may be small but certainly packs a punch! The farm is well kept with a good range of animals including ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys to rabbits, sheep, goats, cows, pigs, and even an owl, an alpaca and a ferret! Feed bags are available for 50p and its great fun to feed the sheep and goats, highly recommended. There are pony rides twice weekly and the chance to see the owl fly in the afternoons. There are plenty of activities going on, but we wish the website would clearer making it easier for parents to plan their day. The cafe serves basic standard dishes like jacket potatoes and sandwiches. It would be really nice to see some more warm dishes and more locally produced organic food being offered. On the positive side, plenty of happy animals and activities for kids to engage in farm life. On the negative side, information around activities could be a lot better and the cafe has a lot of potential for improvement.

Read our full review of Deen City Farm


Stepney City Farm entrance

7. Stepney City Farm

Have a bite at the Humble Bee cafe

Tower Hamlets E1

Tasty food at the Humble Bee cafe
Saturday market with local produce sold directly from farmers
Pottery classes
All the essential farm animals, but you’ll be done pretty quickly
Appears untidy at times

Located in the middle of London’s East End, Stepney farm is featuring a wide range of farm animals and community activities. The Humble Bee cafe has been a big hit with the locals after it opened, serving hearty food in an informal environment. The other big hit with the locals is the Saturday farmers market selling fresh organic vegetables, high-quality meat, sausages, cheeses, pickles, hams, coffees and sometimes hot food! Feeding the animals is always a fun activity for the kids, and feed bags are available from the farm shop for £1 per bag. When it comes to animals, you have all the essential ones but you’ll be done pretty quickly.

Read our in-depth review of Stepney City Farm


Newham City Farm

8. Newham City Farm

A great day out with the kids

Newham E6

Lots of space for both animals and kids to run around
Good range of different animals
Indoor play area for rainy days
Feeding animals not possible
Signs could be more informative

Newham City Farm is an authentic community farm in East London just next to London City Airport. It’s much larger than the average inner-city farm, and parents can safely let kids explore on their own. The farm is right next to King George V’s park so great to combine a farm-visit with a picnic. The farm is organising a lot of activities for children, so it makes sense to check their website in advance of the visit. We really like the indoor play that can be used to extend your visit or as a backup on a rainy day. Parking is also free, which is a great plus compared to many of the other farms located in East London.

Read our review of Newham Farm


Feeding sheep at Freightliners Farm

9. Freighliners City Farm

Small farm excellent for small kids

Islington N7

Easy to get close to small animals
Brilliant farm cafe serving delicious rustic food
Playground nearby if/when kids loose patience
Small farm, not as many animals as on other London farms
Can get crowded during weekends and school holidays

Even if Freightliners is small you still get the feeling of being on a real farm. It’s a great trip for small kids able to walk through it getting the farmyard experience. If you are not participating in any of the planned events or activities, you’ll probably see the animals in around 30 minutes. But it’s a great 30 min for local kids used to city life, getting a small piece of the countryside without having to travel far. It’s a great place for parents as well if you are lucky enough to get a seat at the popular Strawbale Café. Here you can eat delicious healthy vegetarian dishes as well as homemade cakes at reasonable prices.

Read our full review of Freightliners Farm


Sheep at Brooks City Farm

10. Brooks City Farm

Training ground for college student

Leyton E10

Animal Feeding
Lots of handwashing stations
Friendly and knowledgable staff
Cafe closed during winter
Not much to do on the farm unless taking part in scheduled activities

Brooks is a small charming farm in a residential area in East London. Staff is really friendly, and you can feed the alpacas and the goats. Our kids really enjoyed the chickens walking around freely, as well as the farm cat. This is a nice place to visit if you are in the neighbourhood, especially with younger kids. There is also a large playground right next to the farm, so you can make the fun last longer.

Read our in-depth review of Brooks City Farm


Hounslow Farm Alpaca

11.Hounslow Urban Farm

All about getting close to the animals

Feltham TW14

Daily scheduled activities
Owl flying display
Informative and educational
Expensive if not taking part in activities
Facilities could be cleaner and tidier

Hounslow farm has all the farm animals your kids could wish for and the interaction with them is superb. You need to pay an entrance fee (as opposed to the community farms), but on the other side, you get the benefit of a fixed schedule of activities throughout the day. For kids, it’s all about getting close to the animals touching them and this is something the staff at Hounslow has understood. To get the maximum value from your ticket, make sure to check the website and plan in advance to take full advantage of their animal encounters and meet & greet sessions. Even if the soft play area is not very big, it’s a great addition extending the visit making it a proper day and not just a quick visit to see some animals.

Read our full review of Hounslow Urban Farm


Meerkats at Lee Valley Farm

12.Lee Valley Park Farms

Experience a real working farm

Waltham Abbey EN9

Meet the animal show
Buy fresh milk locally produced
Falconry Day
Cafe with very few healthy options
No connection to public transportation

As opposed to the inner London City Farms, in Lee Valley, you need to pay for the entrance. On the other side, you also get to experience a real working farm as well as take part in several scheduled daily activities. To get the most value out of the ticket, make sure to check their webpage to plan your day according to the different events. In addition to excellent animal experiences, there are several play areas to keep the kids busy. If you plan your day well around the activities. Rather than rushing around to see the animals we think a visit is a quite good value for money.Too bad that the cafe didn’t live up to expectations – being on a farm we would expect more emphasis on locally produced, healthy organic food and reusable cutlery and glasses. On the other side, we liked the fact that you can buy fresh milk from their cows. On the topic of being environmentally friendly, we were also quite disappointed that it’s so difficult to reach the farm by public transportation. Especially if you are travelling with young kids and prams, it can be an inconvenient journey to get there by train or bus.

Read our in-depth review of Lee Vally Park Farms


Kentish Town City Farm

13.Kentish Town City Farm

The original first community farm in the UK

Camden NW5

The first community farm in the UK established in 1972
Loved by the local community
All the most popular animals
Small farm, kids run through it very quickly
Some of the buildings in need of an upgrade

Kentish Town is not the grandest of farms, but it serves it’s purpose well in terms of giving kids a quick introduction to farm life. The farm kicked off a wave of new city farms being established after it was founded in 1972, and it’s great to see the community spirit still going strong. The range of animals and the facilities are not among the best, but this is nevertheless a charming farm to visit. Combined with a visit to the nearby Hampstead Heath playground and Parliament Hill, you’re in for a great day out with your kids.

Read our more detailed review of Kentish Town City Farm


Forty Hall Farm

14.Forty Hall Farm

A farm to enjoy organic food

Enfield EN2

Locally produced organic fruit & vegs for sale
Forty Hall Vineyard
Vegetable bag scheme
Not many activities for children
No interactive sessions with animals

A big highlight of Forty Hall Farm is their focus on organic food production. The farm covers eight acres of land dedicated to organic salad and vegetable production which can be bought in the farm shop or though vegetable bag scheme. Additionally, they are home to London’s only organic commercial vineyard. Some of the products can be a bit pricy, but there is also an orchard where local people helping out can get a share of the harvest. When it comes to the animals it would be nice to see some more interactive activities for kids to get closer to the small animals, feeding them and petting them. In essence, great for families into organic and healthy locally produced fruit and veg, but not so exciting for younger kids.

Read our in-depth full review of Forty Hall Farm


goat at crystal palace farm

15.Crystal Palace Park Farm

Experience meerkats for free

Crystal Palace SE19

Exotic animals, such as meerkats
Nice location close to other family activities
Facilities could be cleaner
Lack of a clear schedule of when animal sessions are taking place
More skewed towards students and schools than individual visistors

Crystal Palace Farm is a working farm, located within Crystal Palace Park featuring a range of animals. Students working on the farm are friendly and helpful, but there is no clear schedule in terms of when the animal sessions are taking place. Our assumption is that the farm is more geared towards school visits and training for students of Capel Manor College, rather than individual visits. Which is fair enough, but it might be good to make that a bit more clear on the website and at the entrance to the farm. In any case, kids will enjoy it for a little while (especially meercats) so we suggest popping your head in if in the area. The facilities are mostly in a good state; all concrete, so not the cosiest farm we’ve been to.

Read our review of Crystal Palace Farm


Sheep at Belmont children farm

16.Belmont Children’s Farm

Beautiful setting in the countryside close to London

Mill Hill NW7

Opportunities for hands-on experience with animals
Plenty of space for the animals
Ongoing construction work
Steep entry price compared to the overall experience
Confusing website, hard to plan the day in advance

Visiting a farm with kids is all about getting close to the animals. On their website, Belmont is also promoting a range of different meet & greet sessions including meeting with cows, sheep, ponies, the owl and smaller animals. What is missing is a clear schedule for when they are taking place, so that parents can plan their day in advance. Instead, they have placed a disclaimer on the website saying visitors should “check the times at reception for daily changes to avoid disappointment”. Scheduling a few daily activities at fixed times shouldn’t be very difficult – after all running a farm is all about routines. With no clear schedule visiting the farm is a bit of a gamble; if you miss out on the activities it feels far to steep to pay £20 for a family ticket just taking a quick round watching the animals. Paying £1.60 for a feed bag and £2.50 for a quick tractor ride also seems excessive and should be included in the ticket price. A reduced ticket price and/or including the feed and tractor ride would go a long way to help the situation (while the issues are sorted out).

Read our detailed review of Belmont Children’s Farm

A brief history of London’s community farms 

Children at a WWII bombsite in London growing vegetables

Going back to the food shortages of World War II, Londoners started “digging for victory” making good use of wasteland, railway edges, parks and gardens to increase food production. These so-called Victory gardens popped up everywhere, including on rooftops and the Royal Parks like Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. 

 

Food rationing did not come to an end after the war, and backyard farming continued to thrive. At the same time, more and more allotments were redeveloped for building purposes, which resulted in people coming together to form community gardens. In the 1960s several community gardens were established, converting wastelands into gardening space for local people to grow their vegetables. 

The history of Kentish Town City Farm:

As the farms started to gain popularity, the first city farms began to receive public funding in the 1970s. Kentish Town was the first city farm to be established in 1972, combining farm animals with gardening space. The urban farm was a great success, and several others followed suit in the next years utilising wasteland from WWII bomb sites and derelict docklands in the east. Check out Kentish Town Memories if you would like to read more about the early days of London’s first community farm.

Kentish Town Farm History

Photo from Kentish Town Memories http://40years.ktcityfarm.org.uk/

Farm sizes

In terms of size, London’s largest community farm by far is Mudchute Park & Farm with 32 acres spread across Isle of Dogs in the heart of East London. On the other side of the scale, Vauxhall City Farm is London’s smallest city farm covering just ¾ of an acre

  • Size in acres

Community farms in numbers

As you can see it was Kentish Town that kicked off the whole City Farm movement in London in the 1970s, while the last one to be founded was Hackney Farm in 1984.  Here is an overview of when they were founded:

 

FarmOpenedPostal Code
Kentish Town City Farm1972NW5
Freightliners City Farm1973N7
Surrey Docks Farm1975SE16
Mudchute Park & Farm1977E14
Newham City Farm1977E6
Vauxhall City Farm1977SE11
Dean City Farm1978SW19
Spitalfields City Farm1978E1
Stepney City Farm1979E1
Hackney City Farm1984E2

 

Capel Manor College 

In addition to the ten community farms in London, there are three organic farms run by Capel Manor College: 

Brooks Farm

Crystal Palace Farm

Forty Hall Farm

Capel Manor College offers a range of full and part-time land-based courses which lead to recognised qualifications. As part of the classes, students are also fully involved in running the farm. The college represents an excellent opportunity for young students more passionate about animals and farms than traditional academic learning. A degree from Capel Manor Colledge could be an excellent door opener for numerous career opportunities in handling, supervising and caring for animals: from small domestic and exotic pets to large animals, livestock, wildlife and zoo animals.

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