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Edinburgh-based urban farm closes its doors

This news post is about 1 year old

The charity behind Gorgie Farm has said there is still hope the site can be saved.

A charity has been forced to close the doors to a much-loved urban farm as talks continue on how to save the site. 

Love Gorgie Farm shut to the public on Monday as its 100 animals were transported to local zoos and farms amid a funding crisis which has left it in danger of closing for good. 

The charity which operates the site will give the keys back next month, with Edinburgh Zoo, Five Sisters Zoo in West Lothian and East Links Family Park in Dunbar all understood to be in talks to take it over.

Love Learning, the charity which runs the farm, have said the impact of pandemic restrictions, the cost of living and lack of funding had meant they would take advantage of a three-year breaker clause to end its five-year lease from the City of Edinburgh Council early.

The farm’s 30 staff and 80 volunteers will leave the site on Wednesday - a day after the animals - with hopes remaining that a solution can be found to keep the site open.

The charity’s CEO, Lynn Bell, told BBC Scotland that there were hopes that interim funding could be found. 

She said: "We had thought the council was going to give us an interim fund to keep running the farm until new owners were found.

"However, our meeting with them last week opened with them saying we were in breach of our contract and so they were forcing us to stay open.

"We said that would force us into administration. They wanted us to stay open for another two months but we are handing the keys back on February 2 as that marks the 40 days notice we need to give."

A local community group has been launched in an attempt to save the farm.

The Save Gorgie Farm Forever Campaign has been formed by city residents, with its vice chairperson, Simon Medcalf, telling the BBC: "I can't understate the importance of Gorgie farm to so many people in the community.

"While we have already had a great amount of engagement with Edinburgh City Council on this, it would be great if we could see a similar level of support from the Scottish Government.

"It's important to remember that Gorgie Farm is not just an asset for Edinburgh but for much of central Scotland as well."

This is the second time the farm has been threatened with closure, with looming liquidation in late 2019 leading to £100,000 of crowdfunding and charity buy-in which meant the site could reopen in 2020.