Edinburgh councillors have backed a community bid to revive the site of a former city farm – committing £27,000 towards a funding campaign to secure its future.
Gorgie City Farm, which employed 23 staff and attracted 200,000 visitors a year, went into liquidation on November 1 – with the loss of 18 jobs.
The farm’s board did not call a meeting and some of the staff discovered they had lost their jobs on social media.
An online funding campaign was set up by former employee Hannah Ryan and it has reached £93,000 of its £100,000 target after an anonymous donation of £20,000 was received.
Now, councillors have shown their unanimous support by agreeing to hand over £27,303 to help secure the long-term future of the farm.
Green councillor Gavin Corbett tabled a motion to full council, supporting the campaign and recognising the farm has been a “landmark in the city for over 40 years and is cherished by tens of thousands of families and adult volunteers”.
Council leader Adam McVey amended the motion, committing that £27,303 of funding that the farm was due from the council in January to the old company, can be handed over.
The authority was paying £109,214 to the farm a year in grant funding.
Campaigners have welcomed the funding commitment, taking to social media to label it “fantastic news” and said it’s “great to see this progress form the council and supporters”.
Last week, liquidators confirmed that ten interested parties have “expressed interest” in rescuing the farm from permanent closure.
Cllr Corbett said: “It’s been a difficult time for staff and volunteers. It does look like there is light on the horizon with up to ten organisations having been in touch with the insolvency practitioner to ask about securing a future for the farm.
“It’s important that proposals are robust and they work in the long-term. And so there is recognition that this will take some time to get right.
“I very much welcome and accept the addendum from the council leader and depute leader which make sure that some of the costs for keeping the farm intact in the meantime can be met.
“I think everyone knows that Gorgie Farm mark two won’t be exactly the same as mark one. But the last three weeks have shown what an asset Gorgie Farm has been and will be.”
The former staff have been using the working title Edinburgh Community Farm for their efforts to save the site.
Cllr McVey paid tribute to “the commitment the city has to the facility, the farm and the impact it has on the community”.
He added: “This gives us the time, the space and the resources to help create that front-runner bid.
“What is going to be clear is that the operator of the future Gorgie City Farm will have broader shoulders and hopefully be able to take the farm forward with more certainty.”
By Local Democracy Reporter David Bol