In the historic area called Cabbagetown, and just a hop from downtown – Riverdale Farm is the perfect place for a quick in-town outing with a baby or toddler. My Toronto family visits Riverdale Farm at least twice a month, it’s open every day (including Christmas!) and you can’t beat the price: it’s free. Free Toronto things are good things indeed
The tiny working farm features a barn full of chickens and turkeys, and a pen full of pigs. Francey Barn, which is the lower barn, often houses the goats, sheep and cows, but if the weather’s nice they are usually outside. One goat in particular is quite chatty, you can usually figure out where they are by listening for him. The two beautiful Clydesdale horses are usually outside as well, hanging out by their trough with their trusty friend, the donkey. Cow milking takes place every day at 10:30, and my tots vary between enjoying it, and being upset by it. At least now they know where milk comes from! A word to the wise, Farmer Michelle takes her cow milking very seriously. Excitable toddlers may prefer to explore the barn if they can’t stand still while the milking is taking place.
After we’ve said hello to all our animal friends, we’re off down the trail to explore the woods surrounding the Don Valley Ravine. We spy turtles in the pond, and sometimes we imagine what it was like when it used to be in its old incarnation as the Riverdale Zoo. The old buildings that used to house zoo animals like monkeys and bears can still be found amongst the trails, before they were moved to what is now The Toronto Zoo on the Eastern edge of the city.
We always cap off our visit with some freshly baked cookies from the farmhouse, with some organic fair-trade coffee for me! Sitting in the beautiful garden munching oatmeal raisin cookies is one of my favourite warm-weather activities ever – not just in Toronto! Although, my kids prefer the oatmeal chocolate chip
During summer months, a farmer’s market is held on Tuesdays, and every day you can buy farm-fresh eggs collected from the Pig & Poultry barn.
Even though we share Riverdale Farm with over 4 million others in the Greater Toronto Area, every time we visit it feels like it belongs just to us.
And because it is a city-run property, the washrooms in the main house are always functioning and clean, with a change table available. There is lots of shade along the paths, but some of the trails may be a bit bumpy if your stroller’s wheels aren’t meant for all-terrain.
Riverdale Farm is located at 201 Winchester Street, three blocks east of Parliament Street and three blocks north of Gerrard Street East in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of downtown Toronto. Parking is available along Winchester, Sumach and Carlton Streets.
Like all wonderful things in the city that are free, Riverdale Farm is in real danger of being shut down. It looks like it’s off the chopping block for now, but it couldn’t hurt to add your name to this petition to keep Riverdale Farm up and running for generations of little Torontonians.