Gorgie Farm: Edinburgh councillor pleas to save jobs days before city centre farm set to close doors

Plea to save workers jobs at urban farm while Edinburgh council enters last-ditch talks with operators over its future.
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A local councillor has called for jobs at Gorgie Farm to be saved while council looks at keeping animals on site until a new operator is found. The much-loved urban farm – one of the last left in Scotland – announced recently it would have to close due to a lack of funding and ‘serious financial challenges’.

Charity Love Learning has run the three-acre council-owned site since 2019 but will now walk away, with the farm set to close its doors to the public on Monday (January 16). Local councillor Ross McKenzie has called on the council to provide protection for the staff who will be out of a job come Monday. There are 30 staff at the farm and many more volunteers. There are also allotments on the site.

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It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon indicated she is ready to help save the farm if there is anything “reasonable” the Scottish Government could do. The council confirmed this week that “a number of organisations” have come forward to express an interest in its future running including Edinburgh Zoo. It has sparked concerns about the valued community space which holds pigs, ducks, sheep and a range of other animals, being handed over to private organisations.

Gorgie farm is scheduled to close on Monday, January 16Gorgie farm is scheduled to close on Monday, January 16
Gorgie farm is scheduled to close on Monday, January 16

Meanwhile, council leader Cammy Day said the local authority would also “look to see if there is any way of keeping the animals on site until a decision is made on its future”. The level of funding required to save the farm from closing for good is unlikely to be met by the council. But Mr McKenzie has urged the council to take interim measures to protect the core staff as well as look at a ‘coalition model' to help the farm generate income from different activities making it more sustainable.

Mr McKenzie said: “It would be disastrous to lose the farm. Between now and Monday, the focus needs to be on keeping the staff in jobs there, especially if the council say they are looking at keeping the animals on site. Some workers have been there a long time preceding the takeover by Love Learning. I’m keen to see the animals and staff stay on while another solution can be found. The council seems resistant to fund the jobs, due to costs and risks.

"The volunteering, foodbank, educational support are key to the future of the farm. A coalition model which recognises the full range of social benefits provided by the farm could help plug the funding gaps in the long term."

‘We’ll do everything we can’

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Council Leader Cammy Day said: “A number of organisations have been in touch expressing an interest in taking over the running of Gorgie Farm so we’ll be meeting them over the coming days to hear exactly what they have to say and their ideas for the site.

“There has been a lot of public support from community groups, the public and local politicians to try and come up with a solution however it’s still too early in the process to identify a definitive plan going forward. We’ll continue to do everything we can as a Council to determine the best outcome for the site.”