There is something about recreational farms that intrigues me. Farms are a great way to allow people- especially kids- to learn about the farming way of life and to imagine what it would be like to live and work on a farm even if they don’t live in a rural area. Earlier this summer, we went to one in Champaign, Illinois but the greater Chicago area has many different farms all specializing in different things. They range from dairy farms to apple orchards. Some have animals. Some allow you to pick different produce- from apples to strawberries to sugar snap peas.
One such farm that we love to explore is Wagner Farm in Glenview. Although small, this farm gives kids the opportunity to see farm animals up close. They can watch cows who are almost close enough to touch eat mud-coated straw. They can see horses feeding on grass in the pasture. Pigs lay lazily in the mud while sheep busy themselves eating from their trough. Chickens peck busily at the ground looking for any food they can find. There is also a barn with interactive exhibits that allow kids to learn and experience what it was like to work on the farm. Ladybug loves collecting eggs from the makeshift chicken nests and milking the artificial cow.
Wagner Farm was once owned by the Wagner family who immigrated to Illinois from Germany in the 1850s. The farm was larger back then but they owned this piece of it right up until the last Wagner died in 1997. It was then sold and bought by the Glenview Park District in 2000 to be used for community learning. If you’re interested, you can read more about the history here.
I take the kids quite often and although Buddy is still too young to really understand anything about the farm, Ladybug always loves to see the animals. She also loves to run around the big grassy field between the interactive barn and the animal barns. It doesn’t matter how often we go, she hasn’t gotten tired of it yet. And since it’s free, going frequently won’t break the bank. Sometimes we spend an hour seeing the animals. Other times we’ll spend an entire morning moving more slowly. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I pack a picnic lunch to eat while we’re there- there are picnic benches outside to sit on. The huge lawn is also perfect for picnic blankets. Once while we were there, we even got the opportunity to pet a cow (a small fee was required). Ladybug begged me to let her pet the cow so we waited in line, paid the dollar fee and stood next to the cow. Although Ladybug chickened out, I was still able to pet it while Ladybug watched.
Wagner Farm has been one of my favorite discoveries since moving to the suburbs two years ago. It’s the perfect way for young kids to learn about living and working on a farm while getting them up close to the animals. Wagner Farm is a place that everyone can enjoy.
Is there a farm your family likes to explore? Tell me about it in the comments!
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