Gorgie City Farm to live on thanks to £100k in donations

Dina and Rosie Sedgwick, four, with volunteer Steven P Hogan. Picture: Scott Taylor
Dina and Rosie Sedgwick, four, with volunteer Steven P Hogan. Picture: Scott Taylor
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GORGIE City Farm has hit its £100,000 target six weeks after the appeal was launched to save it – thanks to the big-hearted people of Edinburgh.

The much-loved attraction stood on the brink of ruin at the end of April because of spiralling running costs and a slump in external funding.

This wouldn’t be possible without the people of Edinburgh. This definitely is a charity that belongs to the city.

Josiah Lockhart

But following an urgent plea, the community rallied around to support a whirlwind campaign that has seen fundraisers literally walk over hot coals to secure its future.

And Evening News readers have been thanked for the key role they have played in extending a helping hand to the farm in its darkest hour.

An early surge saw £30,000 raised in the first three days but farm bosses begged people to dig even deeper after a slow-down in donations – and Edinburgh answered the call.

General manager Josiah Lockhart said he had been “overwhelmed” by the level of support and staggered by how the community has pulled together to help the farm.

“We can now see a bright future where before it was very dark,” he said. “The highlights for me have been the ingenious ways that people have been raising money for us – from a boy doing a sponsored silence to a little girl who took the stabilisers off her bike to do a sponsored ride through to Tom Kitchin’s restaurants donating £1 for every meal.

“Volunteers and staff also did a fire-walk to raise funds. We thought it would be a long, uphill struggle. But the support has shown us how important the farm is for the city. This wouldn’t be possible without the people of Edinburgh. This definitely is a charity that belongs to the city.”

And John Teasdale, vice-chairman of the board, revealed that the farm is not only set to hit its target but to smash it, with money still coming in and a series of fundraising events lined up in the coming weeks.

He said: “It is six weeks since we launched the appeal which has saved the farm in the short term. Now we have got to make sure we can secure long-term funding, but that will be much easier now we have not got a cash-flow problem. Sponsors wouldn’t come to us if we were still in trouble but now we have moved beyond that.

“The Evening News has played a key role in bolstering our campaign by keeping this in the news. Without the paper’s support, we would have struggled to hit our target. The first couple of days of a campaign like this are easy but maintaining that momentum isn’t and the Evening News has helped significantly with that.”

It was two last-minute donations, from Early Days Nursery and the Scottish Open, that pushed the campaign over the final hurdle after two months of fundraising.

Now the farm has the financial breathing space it needs, the next task is to ensure it has the right level of reserves in its coffers and to come up with a clear, sustainable plan for future funding.

The farm already has “three or four” interested parties whom they are now pursuing for a sponsorship deal.

Canon Bill Brockie, one of the founding fathers of Gorgie City Farm, has expressed his joy at the news the farm has been saved.

An Episcopalian priest at St Martin’s in Gorgie-Dalry in 1976, he was among those who played a key role in establishing the urban farm almost four decades ago.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted. It is one of the great things in the area. Our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren have enjoyed going there.

“Well done to the people who have worked so hard to achieve this.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said: “This is wonderful news and testament to the hard work of staff and volunteers, to the generosity of local people, community organisations and businesses, and to the vital backing of the Evening News.

“The success of the appeal buys the farm crucial time to get a new long-term plan in place. So what we want to see now is all that goodwill continue through visits to the farm, volunteering and regular giving. That will secure the farm for decades ahead. For now, let’s celebrate a job well done.”

Historically, the farm would host a festival every summer but because of the financial situation it had been taken off the table.

But now bosses are planning a rebranded version, to be held at the attraction in August or September as a thank you to all the fundraisers, businesses and donors.

And the council, which signed a three-year deal to support the farm, has this week “reaffirmed” its support.

At a meeting held yesterday, city bosses pledged to advise the farm on the best way to secure its future.

Councillor Paul Godzik, children, families and education leader, said: “I am pleased that the council have been able to offer Gorgie City Farm grant-funding, helping ensure the future of this unique and well-loved organisation.

“Throughout their fundraising campaign the farm has proven its popularity amongst the public, and I look forward to seeing the initiative develop and grow over the coming years.”

Back in 1977, the land on which the farm lies was derelict and several plans were mooted to build houses.

But a community group led by the late Bunty Anderson had other ideas and locals agreed they would rather see it as a green space.

And for many city children living in deprived city wards it was one of the only places that they could encounter live 

Since it opened as Gorgie City Farm in 1982, tens of thousands of visitors each year have been able to experience farm life at first hand.