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Our Green Story: The Ark Open Farm
With over 70,000 visits a year, The Ark Open Farm is enormously popular for families and children wanting to get close to the animals. It’s a fantastic family day out, with an abundance of space to let children explore in a safe environment while having fun and learning.
Set in 40 acres of beautiful countryside between Newtownards and Bangor, the Ark Open Farm opened in 1990 as one of the first open farms in Northern Ireland specialising in rare breeds of farm animals. Now its rare breeds – including White Park cattle (as seen on BBC’s Countryfile), Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, Shetland and Jacob sheep - are complemented by exotic breeds including alpacas, reindeer, eagle owls and meerkats. Add to the mix, rabbits, goats, creepy crawlies and duck ponds and there’s a winning formula for entertaining all ages.
The range of activities extends further with the indoor play barn, tractor trailer and quad barrel rides, large outdoor play area, a countryside walk in the fairy-tale forest and a café.
This is a family run business, where the commitment of two generations of Donaldsons to education and awareness of nature, wildlife, the environment, farming and food is the passion. Up to half of visits are from schools, tailored to suit all ages and linked to the curriculum. The farm encourages hands on active learning, through handling and feeding a variety of animals.
A small farm shop offers eggs produced on the farm and a café and picnic areas give folk a chance to catch their breath. PV panels contribute to energy efficiency, LED lighting, occupancy sensors, push taps to reduce water flow and waste separation and recycling from the café are integral to the farm, as is local sourcing of food products for the café. Agricultural waste from the animals is composted on site.
Here then is a highly successful farm fully integrated into its community, educating and making visitors aware of farming and food and, for children particularly, doing so through their experience and play.
Visit all year round, from 10.00am
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