Introducing Children to Fun on the Farm
At Round Hill Park, families can learn and play on a working, historical farm.
photos by chuck beard
If you’re looking for parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, that’s Scarborough Fair. For corn, buckwheat, timothy and alfalfa, pack up the family and head to Round Hill Park and Exhibit Farm.
“Round Hill provides a unique opportunity for individuals and families to interact with farm animals and view our historic buildings while enjoying our modern-day amenities,” says farm and park supervisor Christopher Roland. In particular, he takes delight in watching the children see the animals for the first time. “A lot of kids don’t have that opportunity,” he says.
At the heart of the Allegheny County-owned farm in Elizabeth Township lies property donated to the county in the 1960s by the Peairs-Scott family, whose vision was that the land would continue as a working farm but open to the public — especially to children. That property included a 1856 brick farmhouse and smokehouse (currently being renovated and open for tours starting this fall) as well as barns and other outbuildings. With later land purchases by the county, the park today is less than 1,200 green acres.
In addition to the cows — Brown Swiss, Holstein, Jersey and Guernsey — which you can watch being milked twice a day, other Round Hill inhabitants include Tunis sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats, donkeys, rabbits and some special guests: retired Allegheny County Police horses. Ducks and geese quack and splash away in a scenic pond.
The fields spreading across the rolling hills provide botanical diversity, showcasing the life cycles of the crops from planting until the grand finale: harvesting. Some of that hay and corn stays within the county park system, headed for the game preserve at South Park as chow for the American bison. There are also gardens for vegetables and herbs. (So maybe you will find some rosemary or thyme).
Stop by in summer for the sheep shearing, when they strike up the band — yes, live music down on the farm — for a novel, musical touch to the annual ritual. Many other special events and activities are planned throughout the year, including maple-sugaring demonstrations, nature walks with a park ranger and a blessing of the animals (your pets are welcome, even hamsters) in December.
Roland makes special note of the annual Day on the Farm program in October, which provides an immersive, agrarian experience for children, culminating with a hay ride.
Had enough of farm life for a while? Round Hill Park offers many other attractions and programs: In addition to the splash park and playgrounds, you’ll find equestrian and hiking trails, soccer fields and classes in yoga and Pilates.
Round Hill Park
651 Round Hill Road
Open daily, 8 a.m. to sunset