Gorgie City Farm volunteers plead for centre's future

VOLUNTEERS at a much-loved urban farm which faces closure have spoken out about what rescuing the attraction would mean to them.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 5:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 7:17 am
Tyler Paget, aged 14, Dominic Lambert, and Moira Black all work at Gorgie Farm as volunteers. Picture: Jane Barlow

The comments came after a fundraising campaign to save Gorgie City Farm received almost £40,000 in four days, with donations flooding in from all over Edinburgh.

Spiralling running costs and a slump in external funding led to an urgent plea on Saturday for £100,000.

Moira Black, 54, who is one of the longest-serving volunteers, said the farm’s work was vitally important.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Children from Dalry primary school help Dinkie the Jersey cow celebrate her first birthday at Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh in October 1987. Picture: Denis Straughan

She said: “I have been here for almost 20 years and I had always wanted to work with animals. I think of them as just like my own pets and they have helped me cope with my depression.

“Working here means the world to me. It is a big part of my life. I take the small pets to old people’s homes and people with Alzheimer’s and it really helps them.”

Tyler Paget, 14, from Dalry, who has been volunteering for the last three months, added: “I really like animals and when I realised there was a place like this I asked my mum if I could volunteer.

“I love it here so much that I come in on public holidays. It would make me really upset if the farm closed. For a lot of people who are older now, the farm is part of their childhood. It should also be preserved for future generations.”

Five-year-old Robert Brown meets Rambo the rabbit at Edinburgh's Gorgie City Farm open day in September 1986. Picture: Alan Macdonald

The £37,000 raised so far does not include donations collected in several Sainsbury’s stores yesterday after the supermarket giant threw its weight behind the campaign.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We’re pleased to be supporting such a local institution and to be doing our bit to keep this much-loved farm open for visitors.”

The city farm has received 3000 individual donations and £900 in visitor gifts over the weekend, where they typically take under £150.

Josiah Lockhart, general manager of the farm, said he had been “overwhelmed” by the level of support shown so far.

Bridget Hepburn, 10, helps muck out the duck pond in 1999. Picture: Gary Wilson

He said: “We are now looking at how we can work with employers and businesses in the area. We have had hundreds of ideas about how best to save the farm – everything from small community organisations doing sales to school events to restaurants holding fundraising dinners.

“The response from the public shows that the farm doesn’t belong to anyone – it belongs to the city.”

The farm has been running for more than 38 years but financial struggles in recent months led to the closure of its cafe in January.

It now needs to raise a major sum to secure its future.

Children from Dalry primary school help Dinkie the Jersey cow celebrate her first birthday at Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh in October 1987. Picture: Denis Straughan

To make a donation text “FARM44 £5” to 70070, visit www.justgiving.com/gorgiecityfarmassociation or send a cheque to Gorgie City Farm, 51 Gorgie Road, EH11 2LA.

Five-year-old Robert Brown meets Rambo the rabbit at Edinburgh's Gorgie City Farm open day in September 1986. Picture: Alan Macdonald
Bridget Hepburn, 10, helps muck out the duck pond in 1999. Picture: Gary Wilson