Riverdale Farm: A Cure for “Urbanitis”

The other day, I got distracted while studying at the Gerstein Science Library. This is not abnormal for me. What was unusual that day, however, was the source of distraction: leaves.

A beautiful distraction!

A beautiful distraction!

I honestly don’t usually pay much attention to fall colours, but when I glanced up from my reading on colonialism and looked out the window, it was love at first sight. These striking yellow-orange maple leaves were “can’t-take-my-eyes-of-you” gorgeous. And here I was, inside, reading about the past. I had to get out.

That day, I just went for a run from Hart House to Trinity Bellwoods Park before I returned to my studying. I had a paper coming up and didn’t think that my prof would take “seeing nice leaves” as an acceptable excuse for an extension. Neither did I. But, as an outdoorsy person,  the city was starting to take a toll on me and I needed to escape. I had a case of urbanitis: “A breaking point when one goes insane and is overwhelmed with a feeling to leave everything behind and go ‘Hippy Commando’ out in the backwoods or the middle of nowhere.” (www.urbandictionary.com)

A few days later, that feeling of being trapped in the city returned. I was on the brink of going “Hippy Commando.” With no car, no money, and minimal survival skills, I couldn’t venture too far into the wild. I did, however, have a subway token, a pair of running shoes, and a friend who suggested we go to Riverdale Farm. A run through one of the city’s “hidden gems” seemed like a perfect way to stick to my goal of getting fit and trying new things and, perhaps, curing my case of “urbanitis.”

I am not usually a fan of taking the subway to go for a run or hike, but for this, I made an exception. We went from St. George Station to Broadview and started our run to Riverdale Farm from there.

Don Valley Hills and Dales Discovery Walk

Don Valley Hills and Dales Discovery Walk

While running, we “discovered” that we were following signs for the “Don Valley Hills and Dales Discovery Walk.” Afterward, I learned that “Discovery Walks” is a program of self-guided walks that helps nature-lovers like me connect with the city’s parks and trails.

Wooded Trail at Riverdale Farm

In a few minutes, we went from city to forest to farmland. It was a nice change to run on a trail of gravel and wet leaves, instead of sidewalks, to run by ponds and animals, instead of bumping into people in front of busy shops, and to breathe in crisp autumn air, instead of exhaust. Aside from the sound of cars speeding down the DVP, I hardly felt that I was in the city.

Riverdale Farm is free (a definite plus on a student budget) and is open year-round from 9am to 5pm.  The farmers are really friendly and happy to chat with you about their produce and farm animals. I was lucky that the day I went, I got to see a cow being milked!

A cow being milked!

A cow being milked!

As someone who has backpacked through the Alaskan wilderness, climbed the Rockies and skied in the French Alps, sometimes my busy urban life at U of T can wear me down. It is nice to know, though, that getaways like Riverdale Farm, are just a few subway stops away from campus!

Tae Kwon Do update: Readers, you’d be impressed! In addition to “the punch” and “the throw,” I can now do a “front snap kick” and a “roundhouse kick.” Well, sort of. My anxiety levels have also dropped significantly.

-Shannon