If you follow me on Instagram then you will know that this weekend I had an absolutely lovely day at Willowbrook Farm in Oxford. I was really looking forward to writing this blog post to share my experience 😀
There is so much to say about Willowbrook farm and when writing this post I decided to go into a lot of detail about the farm and how it works. So although this post is a little long I think its important to know about the farm to know how special and unique it truly is Mashallah 😀
Willowbrook Farm is a Halal family run farm in Oxfordshire. They produce food organically and sustainably and take a holistic approach to all aspects of food production, from the farm on to the dinner table.
The livestock and poultry have a non- gm diet and have access to fresh pastures. On their farm no chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, artificial fertilisers or hormones are used. They started as a small farm supplying to the local area but now have extended to supplying customers across the UK. As they have grown they have kept to their original standards of organic and sustainable farming. Alhamdullilah they farm in a way which is committed to the environmental sustainability and natural biodiversity of the land. These values are an important part of Islam and eating food which is Halal.
I visited the farm a few years ago when they first opened for public events. At the time we attended the open day and then camped out the night. When visiting this time I was so pleased to see how much the farm has grown and developed Mashallah.
On the website they have a great section all about the family and the story of how the farm was set up and developed including information on how they have planted thousands of trees and managed the land to ensure the maximum bio-diversity of habitats, plant and animal life can thrive there.
Mashallah they also have an amazing farm shop that sells organic products from the farm including beef, lamb, chicken and eggs. They also sell other products like locally sourced honey and Palestinian dates. They sell the products online if you cannot get to the farm to buy the products. Check out the website for more details on this.
They hold a range of different events throughout the year. I visited the open day which is held on Sundays throughout the summer months. Have a look on their website or subscribe to their mailing list for up to date information about events and activities. Bare in mind when visiting we are also expected to respect and be responsible for the land while we are visiting it.
Getting There: Willowbrook Farm is located in Kidlington in Oxford. I would say the easiest way to get there is by car. It is just under a 2 hour drive from London and easy to find using Google Maps. The farm has lots of parking if you are driving.
If you are not driving there then you can get a Chiltern Railway train from London to Oxford Parkway Railway Station. This station is about a 30 minute walk from the farm. There is a bus that goes from the station to near by the farm but then you would have to walk another 10 minutes from the bus stop to the farm. There are also a number of coaches that travel to Oxford from London but once again you will have to get from the station to the farm. Obviously check your journey before heading out to and see what the best way is for you to get there.
Price: The open days cost £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. Under 5’s are free. This fee does not include food from the cafe. They also have a season pass if you are looking to visit regularly.
Things to do and see: When you visit the farm on an open day they have a plan for the day which includes a tour of the farm, meeting the animals, meeting the family, enjoying home made food in the cafe and different workshops and demonstrations.
The open day runs from 10am to 4pm with different events at set times throughout the day. The great thing is that you can arrive at any time and navigate the farm yourself if you want to. This is what we ended up doing as we arrived at 12:00pm. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by the youngest member of the family who showed us where to park. We then went into the main cafe area and got a map of the farm. As we had missed the main farm tour we ended up doing our own tour using the map. The farm is really easy to navigate with signs and paths showing you the way. At each site there is an information board which goes into detail about each area and how and why is was set up.
The first place we visited was the pond and Cob House. The Cob House took over 4 years to build and was built using natural materials mostly drawn from the farm itself or the local area and built by the family and a host of volunteers. It is designed to maximise incoming solar heating and is insulated with lambs wool from the farm. Alongside the farmhouse there is also the boiler room to house the bio-mass system which heats all the farm buildings. They also use wind and solar power systems on the farm to ensure sustainable energy use.
We then walked through the areas with the different animals including the chicks and sheep. In each area where the animals are there is information about how the animals are raised and cared for in a way that is organic, ethical and Halal.
While visiting the sheep field you can climb to the top of the hill to the viewing point where you can get an incredible view of the area.
A must see place on the farm is the incredible Old Woodland. It is an enchanting place covered with beautiful trees and amazing trees houses. The woodland also has swings, bridges and cute little signs and decorations.
The Willowbrook Cafe is an absolute gem. They sell a range of food including burgers and baguettes with organic, halal meat or chicken from the farm. They also sell soups and salads, teas and cakes and fresh waffles! All the food is fresh and handmade and tastes great!
Of course a lovely thing to do while at the farm is to pray salah in the outdoor prayer space. Something about praying in nature is so special and not something we get to do often in the UK.
Another thing to mention is that the farm is eco-friendly and aims to keep waste to a minimum. This includes having composting eco-toilets. The waste from the eco-toilets to is mixed with ash and woodchip and turned into a manure which is used around non fruiting trees on the farm.They also try to minimise paper and plastic use on the farm and recycle or re-use where possible. I would suggest having a look at the ‘Waste Recyling’ section on their website which goes into detail about the different ways they recycle or use different types of waste. It is really is an interesting read.
Willowbrook Farm is also home to a eco-camping site ideal for families and friends looking for a relaxing break and an escape from busy city life. You would need to enquire on the website if you are looking to camp there overnight.
The farm welcomes volunteers every Sunday who are offered a home-made lunch in return for their help. Once again you would need to enquire about this on the website.
Final Thoughts: I absolutely loved my time at Willowbrook Farm and would highly recommend it. It is so incredible to have a place like Willowbrook Farm just a few hours drive away from London. It really is a unique and special place that is an incredible experience and a chance to learn new things and reflect.