Childrens’ Farms

Check out this interesting article about how Dutch urban planning has included petting zoos and “children’s farms.” HERE

Most of these are not true working farms, and are surely inferior to the real thing, but much better than allowing children to grow up without any connection at all to farms and farm animals.

Some excerpts from the article:

Amsterdam is something of an urban jungle, with apartments stacked tightly in three- and four-story buildings, and streets are congested with cars, trams, buses and ever-present bicycles — about 800,000 of them. But thanks to Dutch tradition and some clever planning, almost every city neighborhood has either a petting zoo or a children’s farm.

Thanks to these local farms, my daughter, who has grown up entirely in the city, feels perfectly comfortable around farm animals.

Michele Hutchison, an author of “The Happiest Kids in the World,” a new book exploring why Unicef in 2013 rated Dutch children highest in the world on measures of happiness, said that many of the ways those children are being raised today may look old-fashioned, but that this is more of a conscious choice by contemporary Dutch parents to resurrect old-fashioned family values: fresh air, nature, unsupervised play.

“Dutch kids’ parents played outside unsupervised when they were young, and now they consciously try to allow their children to do the same,” she writes.

25 comments on “Childrens’ Farms

  1. Thanks for this share Bill.. I often take my granddaughter in the school holidays to a local animal farm park, she loves it.. You can feed goats, kids, and there are lama’s and rabbits, hens, cows.. You name it.. They even have an aquarium and reptile house.. 🙂 She over came her fear of snakes,as a handler was allowing children to feel one… I think they are great educators for children. So they see animals up close, ( especially those visiting from towns, who never get to see them )..

    Thank you for sharing.. Enjoy a great day.


  2. Laurie Graves says:

    They might not have real farms, but those Dutch kids seem pretty darned happy.


    • Bill says:

      Some of the “children’s farms” are true working farms. Others are petting zoos. Either way they seem to contribute to the happiness of the Dutch children. 🙂


      • Laurie Graves says:

        That, and lots of social services to make families secure. And a commonsense approach to parenting, which is easier to do if you feel secure. I wonder if this security helped the Netherlands dodge the authoritarian, right-wing bullet of their past election.


  3. BeeHappee says:

    That is so very interesting, Bill, thank you for sharing!! It is interesting to me that they have the word for “children’s farms” :), and that there an association for such farms, and government/city support. Something we could work toward. It also reminded me of our trip to Latvia last summer, where towns and cities are so children-friendly. We visited a very interesting children’s rabbit farm there with hundreds of rabbit breeds to pet and feed.
    I chuckled that the author described Amsterdam as an urban jungle. 🙂 I only spent a couple days in that area, but to me, it was a relaxing city, with sparse traffic and mainly bicycles. In our greater Chicago area of some 10 million people we had 3 very big and incredibly well staffed and operated public historic farms, all fully operational and open to the public. Which is mainly where we “lived”. 🙂 They had chores programs for kids, many educational programs for both kids and adults and endless beautiful fields with historic buildings and tons of animals. I truly miss those places. I had not found anything that is public in our current area yet, just some small private places that accommodate visits or night stays. If you are ever in Vermont, make sure to stop by Shelburne Farms near Burlington VT, that place is really amazing. We have some of the best historic farms in the world, in this country, but we could use small places for children tucked away within neighborhoods, like those in Amsterdam.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      It’s great that Chicago has those farms. I hope they’re well attended.

      We used to host children’s groups often, and we never charged for it. But when we had to stop doing it when they jacked up our insurance premium as a result. A shame.

      I haven’t visited many of the living history farms, but we did take our kids to Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts when they were young and it was a great experience.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, a revolutionary thought, Bill— encourage your kids to play outside and experience nature as it is. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dearest Bill,
    Nice surprise to find this post about my birth country here! Yes, we always have been very familiar with the special petting farms for children. In my home town there is an old castle ruin and sure enough, even when I was little, we would go there for a walk and stop at the meadow where the goats, ducks etc. were. It is very educational and especially to those children that don’t grow up with farm animals around. It teaches them respect for nature, above all for animals and they learn to understand how they are being fed and raised.
    Would love to see that more over here in the USA as well.
    Even at the B&B in The Netherlands where we stayed, they had goats and poultry. As a result of that our German ‘son’ (we adopted him, son of a dear friend) came to stay with us for a weekend and his little daughter fell in love with the animals and they got some chickens and rabbits at home. The ripple effect is great and also heart warming.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Arkenaten says:

    My kids had a sort of petting zoo at their school, believe it or not. There were – still are -ducks, geese, chickens , a couple of peacocks, guinea fowl and some goats and at one time a sheep. Also, a few cantankerous teachers so I’m led to believe. 😉

    I hear them making a helluva racket behind the school wall on the lower filed as I pass by on my morning jog.


  7. Buffy says:

    The kids definitely need outside time with animals and gardening. I’m very lucky to have a veggie garden at my school. My kindergarten kids love to go check the garden. We are talking of adding chickens too.


  8. hilarymb says:

    Hi Bill – we certainly have these sorts of ‘farms’ here and real farms where families can camp and join in the day to day work at the farm … particularly lambing time. Lovely for the kids to see and yes thankfully we are educating our youngsters about life beyond the town … cheers Hilary


    • Bill says:

      May the rest of the urbanized word join you in that! We’ve found it very disturbing to see how disconnected city kids here are from their food sources.


  9. shoreacres says:

    The nature center where I volunteer includes Martyn Farm — a place where kids can come to experience everything from making cornstalk dolls to knot tying, and where they can see and work in a large garden. There are interpretive events every weekend, and special events where they can make soap, churn butter, and so on.

    Of course, all of this is surrounded by native prairie and woodlands, a riparian forest, and special children’s gardens where they can learn about pollinators, watch butterflies hatch, and so on. Big people can come, too. There are guided walks, pontoon boat cruises of the rookeries and bayous, paddling tours, and opportunities galore to work in everything from prairie restoration to animal care. It’s one of the largest urban nature preserves in the country, and it’s just a few miles from — the Johnson Space Center and the heart of the petro-chemical industry.

    The best thing is, its only one of many similar efforts. The Brazoria and San Bernard refuges southwest of Houston have vibrant programs for kids from Houston and other school districts, who come by bus to spend a day doing things most of them never have done before, like seining in the bayou, or identifying flora and fauna.

    Can you tell I’m enthusiastic? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. barnraised says:

    Oh, I love this. It’s so important for kids! I have a “therapeutic petting zoo” here and I see how it touches the kids (and the parents always leave smiling too).


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