An absolute gem, hidden in the heart of Hackney.
Wandered by on a recent trip (read: failed picnic attempt) to London Fields, and decided to come on in while waiting for the sun to come out (it didn't). Though we were the only ones here not under the age of 3, nor wearing army green or ironic bindis on our foreheads, we still enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, traipsing around the farm yard among the loose chickens, ducks, geese, and pigeons (?). There are also enclosures for sheep, giant pigs, donkeys, and goats...but you can't get too close to these guys (probably for good reason. They are Londoner animals, after all).
What I love most about this place is the real community feel it has to it. There are volunteers/employees, obviously, who help with the gardening and animal care, but it seemed like random visitors kept popping in and helping out as well. A little city farm with a lot of country spirit! (And I've heard the cafe is damn good, as well...)
I grew up in a small(ish) town in what some might call "the country." I didn't grow up on a farm, but it wasn't hard to find one nearby...
And sometimes big cities can feel a bit -- lacking in the farm life, if you know what I mean? No? Ok maybe just me? Sorry, bear with me!
Hackney City Farm is a delight. It's a small little agri-enclave carved out of Haggerston Park, easily accessible, child-friendly and charming. On a recent walk up to Broadway Market we took a few moments to peruse the poultry (live, of course!) and piggies, and gallop with the goats. Ok, not really galloping but I like alliteration.
It's very well kept, albeit small (obviously -- we ARE in London). There are many signs telling what behavior is or is not ok.
For the record:
*leave the farm cats alone! There are about 100 signs saying this, I assume this means someone was mauled by an angry farm cat back in the day, so best to leave these buggers to chasing mice and laying in the sun. Look only, no touching. If you want to pet a cat, adopt one from Battersea Cat Home. (good idea!)
*This kind of goes for all the animals. Don't try to pet them. They aren't dogs. They are fun to look at -- and an oddity in the middle of a city, but it doesn't mean that the goats want to be bothered either. Just say hello. They probably are fine with that.
*Shhhhh! They already have to deal with traffic and annoying sounds. They aren't fragile, but don't shout at any of the farm inhabitants.
*WASH YOUR HANDS before leaving. There are sinks and also toilets if you need them (pro-tip if you are around this area as well, they aren't very bad if you are in a pinch!)
There is also a nice farm cafe (Frizzante) that I will be back to check out + seasonally they offer eggs, etc right from the farm. Regardless this is a nice little stop on a walk or a good place to take the kids for 20 minutes before they try to pet a farm cat, then it's time to go.
There is also a huge farm
shop selling different kinds of products that produce from the garden and farm.
Surely a 100% fresh, good quality and direct from the farm. And when you feel
hungry, there is no worry because there is a café that offers variety of foods
at very reasonable price. You will surely enjoy your visit when you come at
This is potentially my favorite place in all of London. Nothing puts me in a better mood on a Sunday morning than spending a few minutes staring at the biggest goddamn pigs in the world. I'm not joking- any time someone visits me in London, taking them to the farm is on my must-do list, and I always tell em these pigs are huge, and even though they think they're ready for them, they still end up freaking out when they see them. I think they are part bear, part pig. Bearpigs.
They also got chickens and sheep and goats and a donkey and chickens and ducks and all sorts of other fun things. It is great, and it's amazing that it is all right there in Hackney.
And once you're done looking at the pigs, head over to the Columbia Road Flower Market and get yerself an amazing bacon sandwich and try to forget that you were just hanging out with Babe's obese cousins.
Monkey see, monkey eat.
If you're going to eat meat, you should acknowledge that something further down the food chain took one for the team. At Hackney City Farm, you can look at the cute pigs, then head indoors to chow down on delicious bacon and sausage. In fact, pretty much everything on the menu can be found mooching around outside (sadly, the inverse isn't true - I've always wanted to try donkey).
Herbivores are also well catered for. I guess farms grow shit too, right? And vegetables need punishing just as much as animals, the little buggers.
Erm, anyway, on to the review/useful part. The canteen-style layout means this place is great for big groups. Though it does get busy for Sunday brunch due to its proximity to the Columbia Road flower market. Food's tasty and the price is fair. Wandering round the farm is free and you don't need to eat to do so.
Oh, and this being Hackney, you can of course also get your fixie fixed at the bike shed.
Hackney City Farm is a must-stop between Columbia Road and Broadway Market. It's the only chance you get in London to stop and worship at the feet of the demi-god that is Larry the donkey.
Larry is rumoured to have been blessed with the cunning ability to cure anyone's Sunday morning hangover with his famous and magical 'EEEH ORRE' (at least that's the rumour that I'm starting). Did you know that Larry even plays the nativity donkey at Westminster Cathedral each year? I also heard the rumour that the whole story of the nativity was invented just for Larry to appear in it. FACT!
So as to make it not too obvious that Larry is actually an otherworldly deity, Hackney have surrounded him with some brilliant other animals like massive geese, wrinkly turkeys and smelly pigs with which to amuse yourself. The endless streams of kids provide further enjoyment as they point with glee at their first sighting of real countryside animals, much like the Ali G episode where he visited a farm.
The farmhouse itself serves up excellent sustainable food to anyone willing to brave the long lines and neverending search for a seat among all the mums and pushchairs. And when Larry has cured your ills, your final stop should always be the priceless herb garden where every leaf-rub brings out a different wonderful aroma to take with you on your walk.
While many remember the rubbish weather on the most recent Bank Holiday, I remember walking through the farm among the animals and laying in the sun. There is not much more I can say about the farm except "gimme more benches!"
I do recommend the garden benches though for some shade or sun depending on your preference, but beware of bugs crawling on your shirt! Maybe I shouldn't have worn bright yellow - hmmm.
And of course, there are the massive pigs laying peacefully together in the cool, wet mud and daydreaming no doubt of more... cool, wet mud...
While I daydreamed of bacon.
Hackney City Farm is the perfect fit for those moments when you have just a bit of free time and a desire to see something - anything - slightly different. It's pretty easy to get to, and the juxtaposition of a city sidewalk and the entrance to a farm is rather delightful (you start to get a whiff about a half block away, to confirm that you're in the right place). Turn in, and all of a sudden you're walking next to chickens.
A few notes, to prevent any disappointment or confusion. For starters, it's not huge. If you are easily bored, you could probably walk in and out in ten minutes. My pals and I spent about 30 minutes there, which seemed to be on par with the small children visiting as well. Also, it's not a petting zoo, although I did see a number of people petting the sheep while they drank water.
There are pigs, donkeys, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, and pigeons trying to pull off the chicken look. Except for the chickens, all the animals are doing their animal thing behind a wooden fence. Those chickens, though, really seem to have the run of the place. They're everywhere!
So, a friend told me about the farm an age ago, so I thought it was time for me to go down and cast my beady eye over it. Needless to say it did not disappoint.
If you've got your nieces, nephews or have no little people at all, it's worth trotting over and perusing Hackney's west county oasis.
The chickens and ducks are the first to greet you (see figure 1&2). The rabbits and guinea pigs ignore you (see figures 3-5). However beyond the courtyard is the piece de resistance - giant pigs! Figure 6 depict my new best friends.
This is a real family friendly afternoon out, and the café offers a good selection of inexpensive lunch items. There is also the cutest little farm shop selling the produce of the garden, however if like me you enjoy fresh egg then don't like me, arrive after 11am as they sell out fast.
I loved walking into the courtyard and having all these adorable and ridiculous geese greeting you.
then the ginormous pigs. pigs are in my heart. i love them so, so much (i stopped eating them years ago when i realised how much i love them. i might be persuaded to eat cow again one day, but there is no amount of money in the world you could pay me to start eating pig again!), and these two giants were oh so adorable (& sleepy!)
this is a lovely city farm, but i can't help comparing it to spitalfields city farm, which is just up the road and full of the most charming farm animals i've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
if you are really lucky when you visit hackney city farm though, you will bump into the squirrel man who hangs out in the park along side it. he has the squirrel trained to climb up on him and eat turkish pistachios from his hands and pockets. the squirrels literally run FULL PELT when they see him coming. it is adorable and hilarious in equal measure. i guess if you don't like squirrels then this may not be a reason for coming to hackney, but for me it made my day!
What would you like for breakfast?
Hmmm.... how about an English breakfast.
Alright, we'll take you to the Farm.
Oh, a restaurant called the Farm?
No, it's a farm.
Wait, a real farm? And it's in the city?
Oh. Wait. What?
In the middle of the city, this place is incredible! If only we could have something like this in LA... but you know how strict health codes are.. I bet you couldn't have a real chicken within 10 miles of a restaurant here. Anyways, this place is great. A restaurant with a garden and chickens and pigs and goats and roosters. A great place for kids.
One English breakfast and a virgin bloody mary (very fresh and homemade, one of the best I've ever had) I was all smiles.
Book, book, book, book, bugger, bugger, bugger, bug-gaaaar! Snuffle, snort, oink, oink, squeeeal... Baaaaa, baa, baa.
That was me last Sunday communicating with all my animal friends. A very nice man was mates with the white chickens with the fluffy bloomers. He had a can of corn and we shared it with the girls. it was a great Sunday.
I crave animals. I was brought up with chickens in my back garden and cows in fields less than a five minute bike ride away. In London you don't bump into to many animals. I do like to chase the odd cat and squirrel but they normally seem me coming and run a mile. Not here. The animals are lovely. It's a great place to wander around.
Oh the good ol Farm! :]
Coming to this small little farm, reminded me of back home on the farm. This place has pretty huge hogs, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, geese, and i believe there is even a donkey! (though he wasn't there when i was). Not only did it make for a fabulous afternoon, but a lovely day. Walking around checking out the adorable animals, just makes you so happy. Right behind the farm there is also a little park to wander around in.
Mark S and I ended up finding a park bench and relaxing on it under the sun surrounded by nature, it was lovely. We then headed back to the farm to check out the sleepy hogs to find big ol papa pig waking up to get himself a nice gulp of water. It was such a good time.
There is also a beautiful garden filled with numerous veggies and fruits along with small areas to take a seat. We ended up bringing our books and read a few chapters in the lovely garden with the sounds of roosters and clucking chickens near by.
I loved this place, not only was it a nice little break from the city, but it was a lovely little farm that took me back to my hometown. Gotta love the good ol country in the midst of the city. :]
After trying and failing to recruit many of my friends to venture to Hackney City Farm, I finally managed to convince one of them to join me in my Farm adventure.
Located right on Hackney Road, this is an ideal location for a stop-off before or after heading to Broadway Market. There is no doubt that I love animals and having previously lived in the countryside for many years throughout my childhood, this place brought back many memories, or should I say smells?
The farm is ideal for children or for those who like me enjoy a bit of youthful adventures once in a while. The star of the farm is undoubtedly the fattest pig I have ever seen in life. It is striped pink and black, and after having spied on it for quite a bit, I believe its favourite hobby is rolling in mud. There are also some other big black hogs, some sheep, a couple of veals, rabbits, and chickens. You are able to pet some of the animals and a very handy sink and soap is located at the exit, so don't worry about getting your hands dirty! Do plenty of petting.
Hackney City Farm is one of the less obvious clues as to why residents of this grubby end of town tend to be so self-satisfied. 'Hey', they say, 'we might live in a graffiti-tagged siren-infested concrete urban hellhole, but at least on lazy Sunday mornings we can mosey down to the local farmyard, buy a few free-range eggs, sip our lattes and eat bacon sandwiches on our answer to a country retreat'.
The fact that saddleback pigs look you in the eye while enjoying your HP-sauce-coverd meaty mess may disturb you, but it's the logical extreme of 'traceable' food. Hackney City Farm, offers respite from town life in the form of regular animal-husbandry, composting and general gardening courses too. Well worth a trek from anywhere in the city.
Being a country girl myself, I use this place to reflect and absorb in the smells of farmyards life, yes some of us actually miss it!
I have never found it too busy; it is usually just me, and a couple of families. Hackney City farm is free, although I usually give them a small donation for giving me a small country fix.
They have a (real!) farmyard with free-range ducks, hens and goose, and some adorable goats which I love stroking. The Farmyard leads through to a field, which has Rams, huge fat Pigs, and a Garden.
Hackney City Farm also has a lovely café so it makes it an ideal family outing.
Hackney City Farm is indeed a bit of an odd item. It's too small to have a big impact, but for animal lovers and kids it's definitely an important destination in an otherwise often bleak end of town.
Nestled into the southeast corner of Haggerston Park (a rather windswept and dreary place, otherwise), HCF houses a variety of animals in cramped, dark quarters, only to release them into the fenced-in field on occasion, most likely more for the edification of visitors than for the health and sanity of the animals themselves.
But then, I suppose these are the circumstances under which a regular family farm operates. I certainly wouldn't know. What I do know is that the only thing more tragic than a donkey is a donkey in a narrow pen grinding its agony away for the pleasure of yummy-mummies and slim jean scenesters.
I, for one, walk my slim slacks up there on the regular, if only to coo soothing words to the rabbits and have a new tube installed on my chariot (there is also a bicycle repair shop located on the grounds - Bike Yard East - listed separately). I have never managed to stick around for very long, however, in spite of my eternal fascination with all of the beasts great and small. It would just be too depressing.
Tucked into the corner of Haggerston Park, the City Farm, like the larger Park, packs an amazing amount into a tiny space. Even the several flocks of chickens use the yard on a rota system. There's a building with a nice café, and sometimes events such as a craft market. From there you can walk on through to the yard, which is full of chickens and surrounded by various sheds and stalls, some of them holding more chickens. They seem to have a lot of chickens. There's also a shed with small pet-type creatures. Some of the stalls will probably be empty, with their usual inhabitants out in the fields: goats, a donkey, sheep and a couple of calves maybe. All pretty friendly and happy to come up to the fence to be petted. When I say fields by the way, I am not implying anything large
Anyway it's free to get in, though donations are welcome. There's also opportunities to volunteer if you feel like getting your hands dirty.
Haha! All of the reviews focus on how brilliant Hackney City Farm is for kids. And that's true. But call me childish, but I'm a big fan of cute animals too. I want to sneak away with them all! Mine! Give my the bunny to keep!
Ahem. Sorry. It's fun here, and entirely unexpected. We only found it after a misadventure to Columbia Road. Alex said "oh I've always wanted to go here! now I know where it is!" and I insisted that we went to play with the sheeps (insert Welsh joke of your choice here).
The animals here are happy. Even sad little Eeyore donkey was smiley in the sunshine. The chickens were the flappiest chickens I've ever seen. Everything about this city farm made us smile. Especially the funny looking ducks and the cute little bunny rabbit.
I'm so excited about it here (and now I'm tempted to do a city farm tour and visit them all). Going to Columbia Road flower market? Take a walk up the road and say hello to the cute donkeys. They're friendly.
Hackney City Farm makes people smile.
I've been here more times than I care to remember. Quite frankly, it's not even the best City farm (I think Freightliners is slightly superior) but Hackney wins on atmosphere and the restaurant does a great breakfast. It's open from 10 on Sundays (Columbia road first, playground, then City farm (incl. breakfast) and before you know it, it's naptime!) Plus it's free although donations, I'm sure, are welcome.
I do find myself drawing out visits at times you could be round in 5 minutes and therefore, I wonder whether it needs some kind of children-related activities on a more organised basis as in, feeding of X at Y o'clock. But then again, the informal structure is part of its charm.
Did I say anything about the breakfast?
This is one of the best places in central London where you can introduce children to animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats and others.
It also boasts an excellent Italian cafe-restaurant which is worth visiting just for that!
If you go on a sunday morning then it is a fantastic oportunity to combine it with a trip to the nearby Columbia Road flower market if that is your kind of thing.
My friend took me here on Easter and it was such a great experience. The pigs were HUGE and were relaxing in the mud. The lambs were so cute that I wanted to pick them up and hold them but it was not allowed. The geese were drinking water out of the cracks in the ground. The garden was lovely and had many beautiful flowers! I cannot imagine visiting London and not coming here. I agree with Eamon B. about the bearpigs.
If you get sick of city life and crave a little of the country, hackney city farm is exactly what you need. You'll find all of Old MacDonald's favourites, most of which you can pet, and sure enough it even smells like a real farm.
For added authenticity theres a stile to get out of the field if you go the back way - use your imagination and you might feel like you're passing through on a long country hike...maybe. The outstanding highlights for me however (and for some reason I just love this place anyway) are the small number of chickens that have feathers all the way down to their feet - they have to be seen to get the full effect but imagine a chicken wearing flares and you're not far away. Go there.
This is one of the most surprising, and greatest, things I've seen in this fine city of London. A full-fledged farm right in the gritty heart of Hackney. How is this possible? How have I not visited here before? On a very gloomy and rainy day, the "feathered friends" and named cows at Hackney City Farm definitely brightened my mood. Loved this, and the cafe that goes along with it is also a gem.
its a farm. in the city.
so random, so cute. take your girlfriend on a date here. take ME on a date here.
shout out to larry the donkey.
If you're a country bumpkin like me then city life quickly takes its toll. Hackney city farm is a little retreat amidst the hustle & bustle of the East End.
It was established in 1984 as part of a project to give locals the opportunity to experience farming. I remember my Mum telling me once that kids in cities often didn't know where milk came from, or what a pig looked like. I never believed her but actually, before TV was so widespread, I guess it's not an unlikely story. So, thankfully city farms came along and educated the city folk.
Pet the pigs, feed the donkey and coo at the hens and ducks. You can stroll around the garden and admire the orchard and the bog garden. Or just head straight for the café and experience farm life with a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie.
I finally managed to visit the Hackney City Farm yesterday after reading and hearing so much about it. I realized that since the last time I have actually seen big's or sheep's, it must have been least ten years or so. That is so sad, I never meant to become a city girl!
The farm is very down to earth, small and unpretentious. The big's were absolutely massive, oh my god they actually live in mud. There is also a very colorful cafe but once I saw a women breastfeeding I just had to turn a away. Not that there anything wrong with that, I just thought maybe my target group is some place that is crowded by white mac laptops instead. Sad again I know.. But the farm is such a feel good place to go, a true piece of country side.
Good place to take the kids. I've been there 3 times this year alone. A little smelly but hey it's a farm thats to be expected.
Here you can watch a sheep shearing, buy some hen's eggs from happily rescued ex-battery hens, visit a beautiful straw bale building (recently built by volunteers), eat at the very lovely Italian cafe. Especially good outing for children to learn where food comes from, or for anyone wanting to meet people in and get involved with the local community. It combines a ramshackle, farmyard feel with a vibrant community bustle to make all visitors feel at home.
Hackney City Farm is small and self contained with a lovely little cafe which makes it a good place for those with a young family. The cute donkey on my profile picture is a resident of Hackney City Farm and she lives there amongst an array of ducks, chickens, goats and the most enormous pigs you would have ever seen! The Farm is a short walk from Hoxton Flower Market which makes a good follow-on visit if you go to the farm on a Sunday. The farm is free and there is the opportunity to buy farm-fresh eggs to take-away.
Hackney City Farm is brilliant if you have children. When I went the baby-strollers were piled in there like shopping trolleys. Also ideal for a Sunday morning brunch with a newspaper. Coffee could have been stronger, but at least it was piping hot. Highlight is the rustic feel and the piggies, duckies and goaties lying about being benevolent and lazy. The kids go absolutely bonkers for it.
As far as City Farms go the farm is tiny compared to others, Surrey Docks is bigger and less crowded, but the real star among city farms though is Mudchute which is big and you are allowed to pet animals (if they do come your way). Visiting Hackney City Farm after having been to the previous two it felt tiny and cramped, lots of visitors and barely any animals visible, the fun was over in less than 5 minutes for our little boy. Mudchute will offer at least an hours worth of walking and looking at animals as well as feeding them (with food you can purchase at the entrance).
The restaurant at City Farm is ok, but it is crazy busy and keeps running out of certain dishes. We waited 40 minutes for half a chicken which we only ordered because they had run out of the ingredients for a breakfast. The prices are quite high and if you compare the food to the cost I don't think it's worth it.
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