10 family-friendly farms

Farms make the perfect playgrounds so enjoy a day on a farm with your children

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Fordhall Farm, Shropshire Pioneering organic farming methods, Fordhall Farm’s rolling pastures are home to pedigree cows, pigs, sheep and chickens – all of which roam free. Run by brother and sister team, Charlotte and Ben Hollins, Fordhall is a truly remarkable place. Farmed by the Hollins family as tenants for generations, when threatened by developers, Charlotte and Ben saved the farm by placing it into community ownership with The Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Now owned by 8000 shareholders from around the globe, Fordhall is an inspiration, working to re-connect people to food, the environment and most importantly farming. And there’s plenty for children to get involved with. Enjoy the family fun days, Big Draw Family Art Day, nature trail with picnic areas or arrange a school visit. Tel: 01630 638255

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Bocketts Farm Park, Leatherhead Set in beautiful countryside, have a great day out whatever the weather! There are a large variety of friendly farm animals to feed and stroke and lots of attractions for all the family, both inside and out. Daily activities include pony rides, goat milking, tractor rides and pig racing. The covered area houses six trampolines and two Playbarns, including a 70ft, 4-lane astro slide. Outside are play trails, an amazing jumping pillow and giant slide tower. You can also pan for ‘gold’ at our Last Chance Mine! The Old Barn tearooms serve food all day and the Gift Shop also sells a range of garden play equipment and trampolines. Tel: 01372 363764 

Bucks Goat Centre, Buckinghamshire This is a great Childrens Farm. Visitors are invited to feed the animals. They have a trampoline, swings, slides, and new for 2009 an indoor play area. Tractor rides are available, weather permitting. Daily events held during school holidays. Tel: 01296 612983

Christmas Tree Farm, Kent Buy a pot of food and have great fun feeding the farm animals such as the sheep, ducks and pigs. Some of the animals are unusual and some are just a little bit famous. In the summer school holidays you can enjoy the Punch and Judy Shows, the Magic Shows, have fun on the bouncy castle or go on a trailer ride, all weather permitting. Picnics are not permitted. Tel: 01689 861603

Court Farm Country Park, Western-super-Mare Just off the M5, Court Farm celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2009. This award-winning farm is a wonderful mix of animals, fun and adventure play. Help bottle-feed baby animals and then take a tractor ride. Explore huge indoor play barns and the outdoor Adventure Land with its very popular Adventure Castle. Get lost in the maize maze in summer, or relax in the café. With so many undercover attractions, there’s plenty to do whatever the weather. Tel: 01934 822383 

East Farm Park, Suffolk Enjoy a family day out whatever the weather down on the farm. There are daily pony and cart rides, train rides and indoor and outdoor play. Check out the healthy Riverside Café and children will love meeting and feeding the many farm animals. New attractions for 2009 include the Go Barmy indoor playbarn and the lovely nursery barn with all the baby animals as they are born. Piglets, lambs, kid goats, baby rabbits & guinea pigs, chicks, foals and calves are all due during the course of the year. Runner up in the National Farm Attractions 2009. Tel: 01728 746475

Farmer Palmers Farm Park, Dorset Designed specifically for children 8 years and under, this multi award-winning farm park holds the key to a great day out for your family. Come and meet traditional farm animals as well as ponies, goats, guinea pigs and chickens and don’t miss the ‘hands-on’ animal events all day. Let off steam indoors on Straw Mountain and in the indoor soft playbarn or try out the bouncy castles, pedal tractors, sand playground and indoor play areas – perfect whatever the weather. A child-friendly restaurant with traditionally served and cooked farmhouse fayre and excellent facilities for babies and toddlers. Tel: 01202 622022

Eden Ostrich World, Cumbria A fantastic fun day for all. A working farm with a difference, including many rare breed animals and a flock of African Black Ostrich. Feed the animals and join in with the organised events. Also adventure and pre-school play areas, as well as a children’s maze, Waterwalkerz and Ted’s tractor area, a riverside walk (SSSI), a well-stocked gift shop and delightful tearoom. An attraction in itself is the Zebroid, who is half Zebra, half Shetland Pony. Tel: 01768 881771

Finkley Down Farm Park, Hampshire A splendid place to take children, especially under 10s, for a friendly taste of natural farm life and to introduce them at close hand to the farm pig or calf. In a very relaxed environment there is a lot to see and do and much to learn. There is a great variety of tame animals for children to stroke and feed, including rabbits and lambs and you may be lucky enough to see newly hatched chicks or ducklings. There are activities going on throughout the day, such as rabbit handling and pony grooming. Children will also enjoy the marvellous adventure playground. Tel: 01264 352195

Lee Valley Regional Park, Essex If you enjoy wildlife, farms, sport, events, countryside, heritage, fantastic open spaces with great places to stay, then the Lee Valley Regional Park is the place for you. The Regional Park is a destination for sport and leisure and stretches for 42kms (26 miles) between Ware in Hertfordshire, through Essex to the River Thames at East India Dock Basin and provides leisure activities which suit all ages, tastes and abilities. The Regional Park’s unique natural features have been shaped by a mosaic of countryside areas, urban green spaces, heritage sites, country parks, nature reserves and lake and riverside trails, plus some excellent sports and recreation centres. Tel: 0845 6770600

Longdown Activity Farm, Hampshire At the popular Longdown Activity Farm there is fun for all the family, whatever the weather, with a variety of hands-on activities every day including bottle-feeding goat kids and calves. Even more animals to meet in 2009 and don’t forget the bumpy tractor and trailer ride (weather permitting). Extensive indoor and outdoor play areas. A large picnic area, tearooms, gift shop and farm shop selling delicious locally produced food. Tel: 023 8029 2837

If you’re still stuck for ideas on how to keep your children busy this summer, what about a picnic, trip to the beach and much, much more…

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