Although there are tons of spots within the city limits where kids can learn about animals, venture just outside Detroit to Milford, and families can experience rural life firsthand. Plan your visit the Kensington Metropark, where kids can check out the Farm Center and check out life on the farm.
Animal 101: Although it’s a little ways from Detroit proper, this Milford farm is worth a trip. It’s a year-round home to horses, cows, pigs, sheep, donkeys, goats, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits. Kids learn about different breeds of livestock and even see newborn animals. “We are the place for people and children to connect with agriculture and lifecycles,” says interpretive supervisor Debbie Cavallaro.
About those babies: The barn here is nicknamed “the maternity ward,” and summer is a great time to see all the critters that were born in spring. “Right now we have tons of baby animals,” says Cavallaro. “In May we will have lambs and goats, and in June visitors can expect to see baby piglets and chicks.”
Not just a farm: With a stone labyrinth, blacksmith shop and herb garden, the center (and its Metropark home) offers tons of fun nature experiences.
Play the part: Try “Farmer for a Day” (June 25, July 1, 8, 15, 21, 28 and Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25, and Sept. 5, 2015; $40). Or, at “Farmer Jr.” (June. 6, July 17, Aug. 13 and 27 and Sept. 19, 2015; $30), kids ages 6-8 work alongside the center’s farmers milking goats and cows, bottle feeding baby livestock and collecting eggs. Pre-register for both!
Parent prep: If you’re stumped on what to point out to your kids on the farm, visit agclassroom.org, Cavallaro says, for ideas broken down by grade. The center can also work with parents to craft a program or activity geared to their needs.
Learn from pros: Farm life can be tough work. That’s why there are three full-time staff and CIGs (certified interpretive guides) available to engage kids.
Scholarships: They’re available, too, especially for Title I schools. The center pays for local schools to visit and works with 4-H programs too. Call for details.
Insider insight: “We are everything that is great about Michigan,” Cavallaro says. “We provide a very important component to people connecting with the environment, food, livestock and composting. We also have the Kids Cottage, built out of natural materials.” Kids learn how nature provides resources to build and create. “Everything comes full circle.”
Location: 2240 W. Buno Road, Milford
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. March 1-Oct. 31 (otherwise closes at 4 p.m.)
Cost: Vary/programs, $7/park vehicle entry