Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Riverdale Farm

Walking down the sloping path, through the barns and around the goat and sheep pens to the butterfly garden, I marvelled at my surroundings. Tamed and untamed mingled and a farm within a park within a city emerged. I felt my childhood notions of what a farm is supposed to be spring to reality before my eyes. Old farm implements covered over by ivy scattered here and there, low stone walls, children running about, happy animals crowing and clucking and bleating. Effortlessly, I let myself slip back in time and into a nursery rhyme. There are many places within the city that allow for contact with the past, but the illusion of being somewhen else is rarely so complete or convincing as it is on Riverdale Farm.

There is an overwhelming feeling of harmony that penetrates everything about Riverdale Farm. When we think of agriculture in its modern incarnation, we likely do not picture cows relaxing in the open air at the edges of a wooded area, shaded by maples and pines. Yet nothing in that picture seems out of place or odd, or unnatural. On the contrary, through it is all too easy to feel isolated from nature or even indifferent to it, places like this one remind us that humanity and nature are not separate entities. Riverdale Farm reminds us that, especially in cities like Toronto, magic and wonder can crop up in the most unexpected of places.

I saw a goat being milked, found out that even chickens have personalities, and spotted tadpoles. I witnessed six little pigs shove and jostle their way to the feeding trough at lunch time and then out to take a mud bath. there were onions and rhubarb and herbs and forget-me-nots, duck eggs and dandelions and waterfalls. I shared my lunch with a green-eyed black cat and made friends with a skittish lamb.

Riverdale Farm is a treasure, one that I took a regrettably long time to discover. It inspired me, made me eager to re-connect with my childhood conceptions of the world and, as always, to explore and unearth the other hidden wonders in this city.

Here is their website:

http://www.friendsofriverdalefarm.com/index.htm. It has directions to the farm by both car and the TTC, contact info, lists of programs and events like the weekly farmers market as well as a rather lovely photo gallery.

And by the way, the gift shop is in need of volunteers.

By C.G. Mesa Guzzo

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