There were some unusual sounds to be heard from the editorial floor of Midori House over the weekend. Alongside the warm tones reverberating from the live bands playing in our performance space and the hubbub of the guests attending our inaugural country fayre, the odd pig oink and sheep bleat could also be heard.
Among stalls selling everything from Welsh lavender hand cream to Maison Kitsuné’s latest collection as well as a face-painting station and Bill Granger’s team cooking up a storm in the kitchen, was a petting zoo that was home to goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens and even a pig called Nathan. While many of the petting zoo’s biggest fans were probably under 10 years old, the spectacle also captivated visiting adults as well as Monocle staff.
On Saturday morning, when the animals from The Mini Farm – a travelling mobile petting zoo – arrived, half of Monocle’s editorial team could be found snapping pictures with Nathan the pig or cooing at the newborn kid goats. By the second day of the fayre, word had spread around Marylebone that the farm was in town and dozens of families turned up asking to be pointed straight in the direction of the petting zoo.
While keeping farm animals in urban environments can draw up connotations of cruelty and mistreatment, Midori House’s first – and rather spacious – petting zoo was clearly a success. City farms featuring our four-legged friends can add a lot to the urban environment. And if you don’t have space for a full farmyard, perhaps a pet pig or goat in the garden would bring a little rural idyll to a city home.
Now that the Monocle Country Fayre is over for this year, Londoners can easily visit some farmyard favourites at Hackney City Farm, which is home to pigs, goats, ducks and even a donkey. Opened in 1984, the community-run location offers inner-city locals the opportunity to experience farming and non-domestic animals at first hand.
Our pop-up petting zoo at Midori House got me thinking that farm animals should make more regular appearances in the city. Perhaps city parks could devote a corner to sheep who could in turn keep the lawn at a decent length. A community chicken coop could provide neighbourhoods with fresh eggs.
The key is to follow Hackney City Farm’s example and make sure farm animals rotate between a city home and more rural pastures often. I think a pet pig could make quite a nice addition to Midori House.