THE owner of a new children's farm which has opened in Mill Hill says he hopes it will give youngsters living in the city more opportunities to get closer to wildlife.

Andrew Reid, solicitor, farmer and racehorse breeder opened the Belmont Children's Farm, which is home to dozens of rare breeds of animal, in The Ridgeway in December.

He said: “There has been a farm on this site since 1880 and I started farming in 1981. I really wanted to do something to help the community and this is an educational experience for children and adults.

“We've worked extremely closely with the council to make sure it comes up to scratch and we hope we have created a safe and enjoyable environment.

“This is one of the only chances a lot of children will have to see these type of animals so we can use this to explain farming and where certain food comes from and generate an interest in the countryside at the same time.”

The farm is split into different zones, showcasing different types of animals, with a farmyard area featuring rare sheep, goats, pigs, chicken and cows, and an area showing off some of the native wildlife including rabbits, ferrets and even pheasants.

However, there are also other types of animal including alpacas and wallabies, which have been introduced to the countryside in the UK in recent years.

Mr Reid, who lives on the farm, added: “One thing we want to do is help rarer breeds, so a lot of our animals are not the kind you might see.

“A lot of people these days also keep things like chickens in their back gardens, and we're trying to develop their interest in what they can do at home.

“All of the animals have come from captivity, there are none which have been wild and captured, and man of them like out storks are in breeding pairs so we're hoping to have some new arrivals soon.”

Other animals in the collection include snowy owls, Siberian chipmunks, lovebirds, turkeys geese and eagle owls.

The farm will also be hosting visits from local schools and Mr Reid hopes to be able to introduce a more interactive element to the experience soon.