When was the last time you cuddled with a billy goat? How about the last down you planked with a goat playing jockey? At Chicago’s GlennArt Farm in the Austin neighborhood, families are welcome to shop for fresh milk and cheeses, strike a yoga pose or just chill with the friendliest herd of goats you’ll ever meet. Read on and then hoof it to this for west side mini-farm.

photo: credit Kelly S. via YELP

The Farm’s History

It’s perhaps the least likely place in the world where you’d expect to find pastoral bliss: smack dab in the middle of Chicago’s west side. But GlennArt Farm has managed to carve out an almost idyllic, country-like space.

“We have found that goats have a niche to play in the development of sustainable urban agriculture,” said Carolyn and David Ioder, who both descend from Midwestern farming families. “They produce milk for an alternative food source, their manure gives an immediate use for fertilizer, the goats love to eat down overgrown lots and they are gentle when interacting with people.”

The duo launched the farm in 2011, much to the surprise of neighbors who suddenly found a herd of goats making their daily trek to pasture through the alley.

photo: credit Dee A. via Yelp

They’re Not Just Cute. . . They’re Useful, Too!

During high season from April to November, the couple makes cheese, milks goats seven days a week while also selling their all-organic eggs and honey.

If you want to skip to the front of the line for locally produced milk and eggs, become a member of GlennArt Farm’s Goat Guardian Guild and you’ll receive six free quarts of raw goat milk, discounted prices on additional milk, extra educational experiences and invites to down-home social gatherings on the farm several times a year. Best of all, you’ll have the opportunity to name newborn baby goats, a.k.a. Kids.

photo: credit Julie O. via YELP

Downward Dog With a Goat

Milk and eggs is nice and all, but it’s their herd of dairy goats that draws in the most visitors, as the small farm hosts yoga classes and “goat chills”.

Goat Chill participants simply hang out in the pasture with the super sociable goats. Feed them delicious, goat-approved snacks, give them a good back scratch (goats don’t like to be petted but always enjoy a good back scratch) and relish in their endless affection and extreme silliness.

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Goat yoga, also open to kids, is hosted in the middle of the small field, where nature has reclaimed its glory, ignoring the urban grit and grime, blooming amidst the concrete and construction.

“Kids of a goat kind like to play and check out new things, just like kids of a humankind,” said urban farmer David Ioder. “And kids of a humankind not only enjoy the discovery of kids of another kind, but their world also expands and so does their appreciation of nature and what it offers.”

So, next time you’re looking for a unique family to-do, consider unwinding with GlennArt Farm’s goats.

5749 W. Midway Park, Austin
Hours: Hours vary; call or check the farm’s website before your visit
Getting there: Green line to Austin
847-612-7315
Online: glennartfarm.com

— Amy Bizzarri

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