New operator for Gorgie City Farm to be named next month

Three groups shortlisted to take over much-loved attraction

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 6:00 am
The farm was closed suddenly in November when liquidators were called in

A NEW operator for the much-loved Gorgie City Farm is expected to be in place by the end of January after three organisations were shortlisted to take over the site.

The popular city attraction suddenly went into liquidation in November with the loss of 23 jobs.

Since then huge efforts have gone into finding a way to save the site and keep a farm there with the same ethos as the old farm, which provided not only a favourite spot for children to get up close to animals, but also volunteering opportunities and a safe space for people with additional learning needs.

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The Queen was among the many visitors to Gorgie City Farm

A crowdfunding page set up by former employees quickly reached its £100,000 target.

Ten credible organisations expressed an interest in the farm. And now three have been shortlisted by liquidators working with the city council, which owns the site. They have been given until January 11 to submit detailed bids. A new operator for the site is expected to be in place by the end of that month.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “It’s great news that three interested parties have been invited to submit detailed proposals next month.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the liquidator over the coming weeks to ensure these organisations have all the relevant information they need and buy into the values of volunteering, supporting disadvantaged communities, education, farming and providing a sustainable future for the site.”

Two of those in the running to take over the site are homelessness charity Cyrenians and education charity Love Learning.

Cyrenians chief executive Ewan Aitken said they were working with other organisations including the Royal Highland Agriculture Society of Scotland, Penumbra, the Corra Foundation and Aberlour. “Working together as a coalition will not only give us access to a range of expertise and skills, but will help ensure resilience, keeping Gorgie City Farm at the heart of the community, providing opportunities and services to those who need them most.

“We are hopeful that together, we can find a way forward that ensures Gorgie City Farm can reopen to all whilst allowing us to build on the support the farm provided, creating a multi-faceted space for the local community.”

Love Learning chief executive Lynn Bell said they wanted to run educational programmes for vulnerable people and offer Modern Apprenticeships at the farm.

She said: “It was the community that saved the farm. We want to invite the community in to create something they want.”

And she said Love Learning was ready to start in January. “If we were taking over it would definitely be able to be open by the spring.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said: “After the shock of the farm’s sudden closure in November it is good to see signs of real progress in making Gorgie Farm Mark 2 a reality.

“It is vital that whoever takes over really gets what people loved about Gorgie Farm: public access, education work, volunteer opportunities for all abilities and the fact that it has been a working farm. I hope we are now getting towards a happy conclusion to a difficult time.”