Run out of ideas for keeping the kids happy over the school holidays? Lizzie King recommends four of her favourite family days out. Lizzie is a nutritional health coach, mother of three young children, cookbook author and the founder of family food blog Lizzie Loves Healthy.
There’s nothing like the end of the holidays for running out of ideas as a parent on what to do with the children! And a trip to a farm isn’t the first thing that springs to mind in the middle of London for a family day out. But over the years with my three, I’ve discovered that it’s a great chance for them to see and absorb where our food comes from and get the chance to interact with the animals rather than the rather depressing trips to stare at the caged animals in the zoo.
So I’ve hand-picked my favourites here. It’s definitely more than just an opportunity to cuddle animals. You get to see a farm in action, and in all of these there are on-site cafés or restaurants where you can enjoy the delicious produce, or buy the freshest eggs. A great idea if you want your children to appreciate their food and work out that milk doesn’t just come from Tesco’s! The first four are all in central London, and then I snuck in one of my favourite family days out to see an Organic working farm bursting with fruit and veg as well as animals, and it’s just a nip down the motorway from London.
HACKNEY CITY FARM
Set in a former brewery in East London this is at the heart of the community there, they even have a vegbox scheme for the locals (and a special waiver signed when people move in that they won’t complain about the animal noises!). They have geese, sheep, donkeys, ducks and a pair of beautiful Guernsey goats.
One of the major perks of this haven is the beautiful Frizzante Café, which uses the Italian agriturismo model of using ingredients sourced from the farm to table. The menu is created using fresh, seasonal and locally sourced organic ingredients where possible, and the result is a gorgeous spot to breakfast or brunch with the family on everything from fresh eggs and sourdough, pasta with fresh pesto and delicious home-made cakes.
You can buy the eggs from their chickens and the honey from their bees to take home too.
KENTISH TOWN FARM
This has been running since the 70’s and is so close to the railway line and probably the most central, it is eye opening what you suddenly uncover on walking through the gates.
It’s small and well-kept with horses, adorable goats and chickens running around everywhere. It’s smaller and therefore a shorter outing, but a perfect one if you have less time to kill and can’t travel as far. They run workshops at the weekend and pottery classes can be booked too.
STEPNEY CITY FARM
A little gem of an urban oasis nestled in the middle of Tower Hamlets, this is an old favourite, and it’s free. As with all the farms here, there is a real focus on animal welfare and the role animals and farming play within the local community. You can all feed and interact with the pigs, chicks, lambs, rabbits and there are toy cars that the kids can race around on.
The Farm Café has a great menu from Wednesday – Sunday and serves up the farm produce from cosy soups, a special of the day to tea and cakes. Plus there is a Farm Shop to take some goodies home with you.
BELMONT CHILDREN’S FARM
This only opened recently in Mill Hill, the staff are lovely and helpful with all the kids’ questions and you can really get up and close to the animals. You can feed and pet the usual farm animals, sheep, deer, goats, and pigs but they also have some rare treats like alpacas and wallabies. My lot loved the guinea pigs and rabbits.
Tractor rides and sheep walks at the weekend are a particular highlight. And they do birthday parties which sounds fabulous! The Waffle Café serves breakfast and lunch and waffles and cakes.
This is a little journey out of the big smoke, but for the hour and a bit drive it’s well worth it for the loveliness you’ll find. A beautiful, organic farm, one of the pioneers of this movement in the 70s, Carole Bamford still lives next door with her family. For the children it has everything to wander around and look at in such a beautiful Cotswold setting, from cattle to pigs, sheep and bees to fields of strawberries to pick, depending on the time of year, and a farm shop to go wild in before you get on the train home.
Do check the timetable as they have lots of events and it is well worth going along for either their Halloween or Easter events, as well as the strawberry picking time. Organic Café and Restaurant is fantastic, with most things sourced from the farm, and seasonal, you can either eat a full blown meal at or just grab a pizza from the outside oven.
You can follow Lizzie King on Instagram @lizzieloveshealthy