Gorgie Farm Edinburgh: Hope for beloved urban farm as charity appointed to come up with plans future
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A charity has stepped in to help save Gorgie farm and will work with the local community on a ‘a sustainable vision' to reopen its doors. Operators of the much-loved urban farm – one of the last left in Scotland – was forced to close last month due to rocketing operational costs and a lack of funding.
Staff lost their jobs and animals were rehomed and former staff said they were struggling with bills after taking smaller animals into their homes. It sparked a local campaign calling for the community space to be rescued.
Now Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council (EVOC) has agreed to steer talks and come up with a robust plan for the future of the farm, with options for a ‘community-led’ approach will be at the heart of the plans. It comes after councillors voted to use £250,000 of funding in a last-ditch attempt to save the farm – but it's unlikely council funding will be able to sustain the farm in the long run, amid rocketing costs. The council had interest from several private organisations in running the farm and a spokesperson said these talks are ongoing and operators are ‘keen’ – but it will be up to EVOC to decide on the best fit for the site.
Council Leader Cammy Day said: “I’m delighted we’ve got EVOC on board for the Gorgie City Farm site as they have a proven track record in supporting local organisations that need expert advice. At the heart of the work they will be taking forward are options for a community led, collaborative and financially sustainable future for the site.
"I want to thank everyone who has been working so hard both publicly and behind the scenes to find a solution. The work by the campaign groups, volunteers and other partners has been really impressive and shows the strength of feeling towards this valuable community asset which benefits all communities across the city. I’m sure the coming months will be exciting times as EVOC brings people, groups and organisations together to look at options for a sustainable future for the Gorgie City Farm site. I look forward to them presenting a sustainable vision for the future of Gorgie City Farm to the local community soon so everyone in the city can enjoy all it has to offer for years to come.”
Bridie Ashrowan, Chief Executive of EVOC, said: “We understand that Gorgie City Farm is very important to the Gorgie and the wider Edinburgh community, the many people who have visited, volunteered or worked there, and the City of Edinburgh Council. We are committed to taking a community led approach to this project, learning from other successful collaborations in the City.
“We have no vested interest in the future of the site and will step back if and when a community led partnership has been established, through the work of the steering group. This will lay the ground work for Gorgie Farm site having a fighting chance of long term viability.”
EVOC will bring together a steering group with representatives from the local voluntary sector, campaign groups, the local community and the council.