By Lara Kavanagh in London
Even for tourists enjoying a reasonably relaxed vacation, the city of London can be a tiring place. But if you’re out and about exploring Shoreditch and the East End, duck into Hackney City Farm for a welcome respite and a miniature slice of the countryside, all free of charge.
Strolling down the rather mundane Hackney Road, you really wouldn’t expect to find such a charming and rural little patch, but beyond the gates of the Hackney City Farm there’s a cute little paddock full of pecking chickens, various shelters full of chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs, and even a shed full of huge snoring pigs (plus a large mud pit for them to wallow in.) Nearby, a small field hosts a couple of lively goats and other four-legged friends. It’s a real treat to be a few steps from a busy bus route, yet feel completely surrounded by animals and greenery.
Needless to say, Hackney City Farm is a family-friendly space, so if you’re travelling with children you could time your visit to coincide with feeding time at 4pm. Besides the daily chow downs, there is a small garden to wander in, tended by locals and their children, and if you don’t want to return to the traffic, hop over the stile at the northern end of the farm and have a wander in Haggerston Park. Bonus tip: If you’re staying at a Cheapo hotel or pension that offers a kitchenette, consider purchasing some duck or hen eggs hatched on site that morning.
Now onto the refreshments. It’s safe to say that this little child-friendly café has earned itself a bit of a reputation for its Italian chefs and simple wholesome cuisine, winning a Time Out award for best London family restaurant. If you’re hungry stop by for a traditional fried breakfast, Sunday roast dinner, healthy salad and Mediterranean vegetable dishes, all at reasonable prices.
Hackney City Farm
1a Goldsmiths Row
Phone: +44 (0)20 7729 6381
Hours: 10 am to 4.30 pm. (Tuesday to Sunday, including bank holidays). Free entry; donations welcome.
More urban farms in east London: