Suburban Safari: City Farm    

Suburban Safari: City Farm    

By Katie Isham

Long summer days call for another farm outing. Our city is blessed with fields of farms stashed away in the suburbs. One of these is Southampton City Farm in Millbrook. 

There’s been a farm on this site since the mid-1970s so if you’ve never been, what are you waiting for? If you have been, there’s always something new to find on the farm…  

City Farm grows between the sprawl of Millbrook estate and the roar of the Lordshill roundabouts. But don’t be deterred; this farm is part of the Oasis charity community which is fitting as it’s a true oasis amongst the residential streets and concrete corridors. Enter by the side gate alongside The Compass School where a colourful mural greets all. 

Once inside and when entrance fees have been paid, step onto the farmstead knowing your two pieces of gold are already helping to feed and care for animals as well as continuing to provide this essential opportunity for our community. When it’s time to exit through the giftshop (the least commercial version ever), you’ll want to buy all the merch to help add to these funds. 

Out of the entrance, a lush green space greets potential farmers. There’s so much to see around: maybe it’s the dizzying floral sights or the summer pollen, but it’s hard to choose which direction to explore first. 

To the right, a gate leads into the woods. It may not be the densest forest in the city, but it makes a jolly good go of offering a woodland wander with magical trees to escape between. Follow the route round and spot the giant wooden creatures stalking the paths. There’s even a tree or two to rival the most twisted and gnarled enchanted specimens found elsewhere. 

Once out of the woods, steer right to visit the resident farmyard folk. Penny the bath-sized pig is the star of the show, snuffling around angling for strawberries and back scratches. Her neighbours across the street are the chickens, scratching about and rubbing their roaming freedom in her face. 

Next to them is a mystery area, only recently built, ready to house dinosaurs! Maybe not dinosaurs, but it’ll be worth visiting to see who appears in the enclosure. 

Opposite is the altogether more recognisable goat gang. I don’t know if it’s because one of them is named Katie, but they’re my favourites. 

Nearby, more feathered friends hang around the duck pond. Then take the hedgerow lane opposite to travel alongside the big sheep pasture. No farm visit is complete without a beady-eyed woolly ewe to keep watch. 

At the end of the livestock fields, there are rows, beds, patches and polytunnels of magic sown into the ground. With Millbrook Towers standing tall behind them, these resilient shoots emerge from the soil with hope in their fruits that they too will touch the Southampton skies. The fact that these crops are planted and tended to by volunteers and visiting groups who call this farm theirs must surely add to the enchanting alchemy of community. 

Pass flowers spilling forth from tyre stacks and bushes of berries playing host to all manner of creatures and winged customers. Loop round to the garden area where otherworldly alliums are guarded by a friendly scarecrow alongside the rabbits and guinea pigs. 

Duck inside the classroom to meet those beasts that live in more robust cages. There are lizards, snakes, geckos, skinks (not a made-up animal), giant snails and even a tortoise named Dr John who rumbles around inside on chillier summer days. There is wonder in wandering around and meeting these curious new friends even for adults, so one can only dream of the excitement awakened for small humans. 

City Farm is a brilliant place for a leisurely amble to transport you to the depths of the countryside on your doorstep. Or even chat to the friendly farmers about picking up a trowel or a shovel if you’re feeling particularly inspired. At the very least, it’s hard to avoid taking home a green companion from the plant stall outside. As that grows, it’s a reminder of the life and love being cultivated in a small green space in the Millbrook suburbs. 


Cost: A nominal fee for entry to the farm (£2 adults and £1 children) but it all goes to a very good cause and to keep hairy (and scaly) bellies fed. 

Accessibility: Find the City Farm down the aptly named Green Lane, just off the Romsey Road in Millbrook. Several buses pass by at Maybush or Lordshill including the 19. Ample parking available onsite. Farm only open to the public at weekends. Paths and tracks around the farm are accessible to wheels, feet, claws and hooves. 

Facilities: Car park attached. Farm facilities as expected (animals and crops). Toilets and handwashing facilities available. Small shop with some snacks and nick-nacks.  

For more information, visit the website or Facebook page

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