Ten groups express interest in taking over former Gorgie City Farm

The farm went into liquidation on November 1st.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 10:00 am
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 6:45 pm
Head fundraiser Gail Vancker. Picture: Ian Georgeson.

Ten different parties have shown interest in taking over the former Gorgie City Farm after it went into liquidation earlier this month.

The groups are both charitable and commercial organisations, and some have followed up with site visits and requests for more information.

But it may be some time before the interested parties are able submit proposals and raise the money needed to take over the running of the farm.

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Shona Campbell of MHS Henderson Loggie, the liquidator at Gorgie City Farm, told Edinburgh Councillors: "Ten interested parties, both charitable and commercial organisations, have expressed interest in taking over the running of the farm.

"Some have followed up with site visits and requests for the further information necessary to undertake due diligence.

"This is positive news, however councillors should be aware it could take many weeks before they are able to submit proposals and secure the funding that is required to take over the running of the farm.

"I have requested that interested parties provide indicative offers next week together with realistic timescales to complete, from which we may in a position to draw up a short list."

MHA Henderson Loggie is supporting staff in making redundancy claims.

The farm is currently running with just two staff members to feed and take care of the animals.

Ms Campbell added: "As liquidator, I am willing to continue running the site to secure a sustainable future for the farm, however, there are costs that must be met including insurance, staff costs, animal feed, vet bills and utilities. There are currently not funds available to meet these costs.

"We are exploring ways of covering the ongoing costs for the period of time it will take for the interested parties to perform proper and considered due diligence and to secure the required funding to ensure the financial stability and future sustainability of the farm."

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “It’s really encouraging news that there has been such an interest in taking over the running of the farm.

"Ten organisations coming forward, and the positive response to the crowdfunding initiative, is a clear signal of just how much people across the City value the farm.

“I am pleased to see that the liquidator Shona Campbell is supporting employees in their claims for redundancy and other entitlements and also making sure the animals continue to be cared for.

"We will continue to work closely with Shona and do everything we can to try and secure a sustainable future for the farm.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said: “It’s very positive that there is so much interest in helping to restart Gorgie Farm Mark 2, even if the flip-side is that it will take longer to identify the new arrangements.

"So during that in-between time I really want to make sure that the insolvency practitioner is taking on board the views of former staff and volunteers about what worked well and not so well about the farm.

“I also think there needs to be a shared view about what a reborn farm project looks like; for example that it remains a farm with growing and animals; that it is open to the public and that education and opportunities for people from all sorts of backgrounds is built in.”

The farm, which welcomes 200,000 people a year, announced it had gone into liquidation on November 2, leaving its 23 staff members without jobs.

One member of staff, Hannah Ryan, set up a GoFundMe page the following day aiming to raise £100,000 to save the well-loved city attraction.

So far over £71,000 has been donated.

The farm cannot continue under its current name, but workers hope to use the money to save the site and re-launch the farm under a different name.

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said:

“The number of notes of interest from potential buyers shows just how important Gorgie Farm is to people in Edinburgh.

“I am pleased that talks are going well, so that this much loved farm can continue bringing joy to families across the capital and beyond.”