Love Gorgie Farm forced to close again due to rising costs

Gorgie City Farm is a free to the public charity in the heart of Edinburgh

One of Scotland’s last remaining urban farms is set to close due to rising costs and lack of funds, just three years after being rescued from collapse.

The Love Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh, which offers volunteering opportunities to disadvantaged young people and adults, will close its doors on 7 February.

The Love Learning charity took over the farm after it went into liquidation in 2019.

Love Learning said it had “tried everything” to avoid this situation.

The charity’s chief executive, Lynn Bell, told BBC Scotland: ‘When we took over the farm, the trustees told us that Edinburgh Council donates £100,000 a year and has done so for 40 years of farm history.

“But when we took it over we kept asking the board when it was going to open up its grant so we could apply, but it never happened.

“Also, a few weeks after the official opening, the Covid lockdown started and now the cost of living crisis has hit and we can’t do it on our own.”

Love Learning said energy bills for the three-acre farm had risen from £17,000 for 18 months to £27,000 for just eight months.

The farm has around 50 head of cattle and 50 domestic animals, including sheep, pigs, ducks, geese and chickens, and a number of smaller animals including snakes and lizards.

Pigs at Gorgie City Farm

Pigs are among the animals at Gorgie City Farm

There are 30 employees on the farm and many other volunteers. There are also vegetable gardens on the site.

Edinburgh council said it faced “difficult decisions” over its budget in 2023 and said it had discussions about “new operating models” with Love Gorgie Farm.

Council leader Cammy Day said: “Unfortunately, they are not alone in feeling the devastating effects of the pandemic, with many organizations struggling to cope with falling visitor numbers and rising costs.

“As a council, we stepped in to support the venue three years ago, giving it a new lease on life and allowing Love Learning to take over, and have offered to work with them again.”

Mr Day said Edinburgh was one of the least funded local authorities in Scotland.

Gorgie Town Farm

Gorgie Town Farm

He added: “As a result, our city and the essential services we provide remain under enormous pressure.

“This is exacerbated in our 2023/24 budgets which feature cuts of at least £70m by the Scottish Government, leaving us with some extremely difficult decisions as we try to set budgets for next year.”

Lynne Bell said Love Learning now supports Gorgie Farm with £20,000 a month.

“I hope a developer doesn’t build us houses, but we had absolutely no choice and we can’t renew the lease,” he said.

“We’ve been appealing to the council for two years and seven months ago we also did a feasibility study and sent it to them but they haven’t replied.

“We’ve tried everything. I want to publicly apologize for not being able to make it work and say I’m sorry.

“I feel like a failure and there have been a lot of tears.”

Lynne Bell

Lynne Bell said they went out of their way to keep the farm going

The farm had previously gone into liquidation in November 2019.

The crowdfunding raised £100,000 and Love Learning reopened it in 2020.

All animals will now be rehomed in sanctuaries or other farms.

Ms Bell said: “The public support for Gorgie Farm has been tremendous and I would like to thank every single person who has supported the Farm over the past few years.

“Gorgie Farm is unique and has the potential to offer so much to so many.”

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