Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Visit to Vauxhall City Farm for a Day of Urban Country Life

Vauxhall City Farm

Remember that TV sitcom Green Acres about the wealthy couple from New York City who moved to a country farm staring Eva Gabor as the glamorous Hungarian wife? I often think of that show because even though it's really old (way before my time) it accurately portrays the torn feeling I think a lot of people or couples have about urban life vs. rural life and vice versa. No one loves a day in the country more than me... I grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky so I'll always be a country girl at heart in some ways, but if I'm honest, I will always live in an urban environment for as long as I can because I've grown to become what my granny called citified

Whether it's for environmental purposes, food sourcing, a hipster idea or for appeasing the country-loving hearts of other city folk, urban farms have popped up all over London and I suspect this trend extends to other major world cities too. These little spots offer the best of both worlds to city dwellers who can see livestock and feed animals with the skyline in the distance, having never left the city. It's a pretty amazing thing and this is exactly what Vauxhall City Farm offers.

Alpaca

I wasn't quite sure what we'd see at Vauxhall City Farm other than horses when I decided to go. It's not terribly far from where I live and it's free, so I didn't bother doing a huge amount of research. If it didn't impress me, it really didn't matter. I grabbed my husband and went for a visit on a super sunny bank holiday weekend. I was instantly in love with it. Upon arrival we were greeted by sunbathing goats... It's hard to imagine a cuter welcome wagon than that and I was pretty darn impressed. In fact, I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time we were there. It's good, old-fashioned fun down on the farm!

Donkeys

Vauxhall City Farm lies on the edge of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, just a few steps away from the Vauxhall train & tube stations, so it's really easy to get to. The gardens themselves are beautiful, especially on a sunny day, so it's worth considering a picnic while you're there if that's something you enjoy. As I said before, it's free to visit the farm, but they do accept donations. Bring coins or cash with you and drop them into any of the available receptacles. Trust me - you'll want to. Whether it's an alpaca, a fuzzy bunny or a baby sheep that steals your heart, you'll want to do your part to make sure they get everything they need! They are simply too cute to say no to... You should also bring a few 20p coins with you as well to buy feed for the alpacas and sheep, though if you can't find them, someone on staff will give you some change. The feed comes out of little vending machines like you get gum balls out of and you can go back and get as much as you want. Feeding the alpacas was my favourite part. They're so cheeky that they'll smell the food and put their long necks over the fence to get right up in your face... Don't be afraid. These friendly guys are sociable and not at all shy.

The farm does a great job of providing little bits of information about the animals they house. For example, I didn't know that donkeys get lonely if they don't have a friend. I mean, it makes plenty of sense. Many of the other animals on the farm are the same. There are also signs explaining what you call the baby version of all the animals on the farm, so there's definitely an opportunity to learn something new.

Sheep

Touching farm animals can be unsanitary and I was very impressed by all the sinks and soap wells available all over the farm for guests to use. You must wash your hands before you leave certain areas and there are plenty of reminders not to touch your mouth or face afterwards. There are some warnings which you can read more about on the website about visiting while pregnant, so it's important to consider that before you visit. Additionally, anything you bring with you like a pram or a stroller needs to be cleaned properly afterwards so keep that in mind.

Cafe on the farm

There is a cafe onsite that serves a number of dishes, cakes, ice creams, coffees, teas, soft drinks and other things. With both indoor and outdoor seating, it's perfect for taking a break. The cafe actually overlooks a caged area with a number of birds like ducks and geese so you can still enjoy the animals while you have a coffee or a snack. 

Cake & Ice Cream

I tried Lewis of London ice cream while I was there and it was so good! My husband enjoyed a slice of cake and he thought that was pretty amazing too. You can't bring your own food to enjoy at the cafe, so if you are planning a picnic, you'll want to do that off the farm premises. It's worth noting that the coffee is quite good too!

Cow

In addition to Vauxhall City Farm being free for the public to enjoy, they also offer educational, recreational and therapeutic services. Activities like school trips, workshops, gardening projects, special events and birthday parties are all part of the mission of this little London gem. Additionally the farm offers boarding services for animals if you're traveling.

Goats

The animals at Vauxhall City Farm aren't exactly stationary. The farm brings the animals to schools, nurseries, residential homes, fairs and events. They take care of everything and you simply just have to enjoy the time you get to spend with the furry friends. Additionally, they offer child-friendly incubators to schools for hatching chicks in the classroom. For photographers and publications, the farm is an excellent place for a photoshoot and Vauxhall City Farm will even provide animals to studios for shoots. 

Horse

For horse enthusiasts or even absolute beginners, Vauxhall City Farm offers riding lessons. There are a number of options to choose from whether you prefer group lessons or to learn individually. They also offer riding experiences for the disabled and an Own a Pony for a Day experience for children aged 6-16 which includes learning how to care for the pony. These experiences are available for full or half days and the kiddo gets a rosette to take home at the end of the day.

Another incredible opportunity at Vauxhall City Farm is the Meet & Greet Experience which allows two people to get up close & personal with the animal of their choice for just £25. I didn't know about this when I visited, but I definitely plan to go back and try this out. I really want to pet a bunny... The rabbits on the farm are so cute & cuddly! These experiences must be booked in advance and you can find out more by calling 020 7582 4204. 

Pig

Vauxhall City Farm is easily accessible by public transportation via Vauxhall train station or by taking the Victoria Line to Vauxhall. The farm is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:30am to 4pm. It's the perfect way to spend an afternoon, get friendly with some cute animals and learn a bit more about farm life. If you have children, it's a very family-friendly place that they're sure to enjoy! Vauxhall City Farm is free, however they do depend on donations, so I hope you'll consider leaving a few quid behind if you visit or go online to make an even bigger donation if you're feeling generous. For more information or to plan your trip to the farm, visit vauxhallcityfarm.org.
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