One of Scotland’s last urban farms is set to close due to rising costs and lack of funding, just three years after being saved from collapse.
The Love Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh, which provides volunteering opportunities for disadvantaged youth and adults, will close on February 7.
The charity Love Learning took over the farm after it went into liquidation in 2019.
Love Learning said he “tried everything” to avoid the situation.
The charity’s chief executive Lynn Bell told BBC Scotland: “When we took over the farm, the administrators told us that Edinburgh City Council donates £100,000 a year and has done so in the farm’s 40-year history.
“But when we took over, we kept asking the council when he was going to open the grant so we could apply, but that was never done.
“In addition, just weeks after the official opening, the Covid lockdown kicked in and now the cost of living crisis has hit and we just can’t do it alone.”
Love Learning said energy bills for the three-acre farm had risen from £17,000 in 18 months to £27,000 in just eight months.
The farm has around 50 livestock and 50 domestic animals, including sheep, pigs, ducks, geese and chickens, and a range of smaller animals including snakes and lizards.
The farm has 30 employees and many more volunteers. There are also plots on the plot.
Edinburgh Council said it faced “difficult decisions” on the 2023 budget and said it had discussed “new operating models” with Love Gorgie Farm.
Council leader Cammy Day said: “Unfortunately, they are not the only ones feeling the devastating effects of the pandemic, with many organizations struggling to cope with falling visitor numbers and rising costs.
“As a council three years ago, we stepped in to support this place – giving it a new lease of life and letting Love Learning take over – and we offered them a chance to work with us again.”
Mr Day said Edinburgh was one of the lowest-funded local authorities in Scotland.
He added: “As a result, our city and the essential services we provide remain under tremendous pressure.
“The situation is getting worse in our 2023/24 budgets, which see at least £70m in cuts from the Scottish Government, leaving us with extremely difficult decisions to make when we want to set our budgets for the coming year.”
Lynne Bell said Love Learning supports Gorgie Farm with £20,000 a month.
“I hope the developer won’t build houses on it, but we had absolutely no choice and we can’t renew the lease,” she said.
“We’ve been appealing to the council for two years and seven months ago we did a feasibility study and sent it to them but they haven’t responded.
“We’ve tried everything. I want to publicly apologize for not being able to make it work and apologize.
“I feel like a failure and there have been many tears.”
Previously, the farm was put into liquidation in November 2019.
Crowdfunding raised £100,000 and Love Learning reopened in 2020.
All animals will now be moved to sanctuaries or to other farms.
Ms Bell said: “The public’s support for Gorgie Farm has been tremendous and I would like to thank every single person who has supported the Farm over the last few years.
“The Gorgie Farm is unique and has the potential to provide so much for so many people.”