The Farm-in-the-Zoo was originally built in the early 1960’s to provide an opportunity for urban children to experience Midwestern farm life. In 2001, IDEA was asked to redesign the entire Farm to provide a more rural character and to provide more animal pasture area. Four principal renovated buildings remain: the Main Barn, housing an exhibition hall, program room, staff offices and public toilets; the Dairy Barn, featuring dairy cows and goats as well as milking demonstration and animal contact opportunities; the Livestock Barn, which provides shelter for pigs, beef cattle, sheep and ponies; and the Holding Barn, which is an off-exhibit holding facility. All existing buildings received new wood siding and new metal roofs in keeping with traditional farm construction. All fencing and animal barriers were replaced, and new interpretive signage was installed. An entirely new feature is the Farmhouse, which provides an activities room with demonstration kitchen and a small retail shop.
The former landscape was primarily asphalt paving and grass. All of the paving was removed, and extensive new landscaping (designed by landscape architect Jacobs/Ryan Associates), including crop area, vegetable and cutting gardens, and new pathways, was installed with bench seating areas and a picnic grove. Throughout the site new farm elements were placed, such as a demonstration shelter for public programming, shade shelters for the animals, an orientation shelter, and a decorative windmill.