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Urban farm could avoid closure, council says

This news post is about 1 year old

Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh has said that talks are underway.

A charity-run farm in the city of Edinburgh could be rescued from imminent closure following a campaign to save the much-loved site. 

Earlier in January the operators of Edinburgh's Gorgie Farm announced that it would close its doors next month having "tried everything" to avoid this situation.

The site, which gives volunteering opportunities to disadvantaged young people and adults, has warned that rising costs and lack of funding have forced this decision.

The charity currently operating the farm, Love Learning, took over Gorgie after it went into liquidation in 2019 but was saved following over £100,000 of crowdfunding. 

Leadership at the charity said that energy bills had been a particular issue, with costs rising from £17,000 for 18 months to £27,000 for just eight months.

The site supports 30 jobs, welcomes volunteers, looks after 50 livestock and 50 pets, and also supports allotments - all of which will now be under threat. It’s understood the animals will now be rehomed in sanctuaries or on other farms, while consultation with staff is set to begin this week. 

The decision was made as funding has dried up, with a massive increase in energy bills set to hit the charity.

The charity's CEO, Lynn Bell, told BBC Scotland: "When we took over the farm we were told by the administrators that City of Edinburgh Council gives £100,000 a year and had been doing so in the farm's 40 year history.

"But when we took it over we kept asking the council when it was going to open its grant so we could apply but it never did.

"Also, just weeks after we officially opened the Covid lockdown began and now the cost of living crisis has hit, and we just can't do it alone."

However, Edinburgh City Council has now said that cross-party talks are ongoing, and that moves are afoot to try and stop the closure of the site on Monday. 

Council leader Cammy Day said ideas for the site would be put forward within the coming days - with Edinburgh Zoo one possible operator - with Cllr Day adding that the council was looking into keeping the animals on the farm in Gorgie until its future was agreed.

Reports suggest that up to three organisations are currently interested in the site. 

Talks have continued this week, with a decision needing to be made before Monday’s planned closure. 

On Thursday, the Scottish Government agreed to meet councillors and local campaigners to discuss the farm’s future.