Still struggling to find a good gift for a special – or specially difficult – person? Why not choose something that’s great for any age from 2 to 92, won’t need returning to the shop, and supports a fantastic local enterprise? Annual membership of Gorgie City Farm is just £10.
If you’ve already visited the farm you’ll know what a special place it is: if you haven’t – you need to! It’s a working farm, home to animals ranging from goats to guinea pigs, sheep to snakes and rabbits to roosters – and it’s right here in Edinburgh, tucked in between the railway line and Gorgie Road. It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours – but it’s not just any old farm: the City Farm is a community owned charity.
The farm aims to educate inner city children and adults about animals, farming and food production; it also provides an engaging and safe environment for young people and adults with additional support needs, many of whom work on the farm. As the site is compact, visitors can get up close to the animals – and if people want to get more involved, the farm runs lots of courses and one-off sessions for adults, plus the opportunity for schools and nurseries to visit and take part in workshops. Schools can even hire out incubators complete with eggs and watch them hatch!*
Or perhaps you’d like to volunteer at the farm? There are openings for everyone – adults might work with the animals, in educational work with children and young people, helping out with admin or even gardening (no experience required!) Teenagers can also volunteer to help at weekends (there’s a waiting list), and the farm can offer work experience weeks as part of the school curriculum. Meanwhile 8-12 year olds can join the Young Farmers’ Saturday Clubs and the Farmer’s Helpers Holiday Clubs; younger children are catered for too, with farm-themed storytelling, crafts and songs at Old Mac’s Munchkins groups every Tuesday. Children aged 3-7 years can even have birthday parties at Gorgie, complete with a visit to the Cuddle Corner and a chance to feed the animals.
The farm has its own very popular cafe (open to all, regardless of whether or not you’re visiting the animals) serving breakfasts, hot meals, drinks, snacks and delicious home baking; it’s very family-friendly, with high chairs, buggy parking, children’s portions and cold lunch boxes. The cafe also provides more volunteering opportunities. And if you have a small pet of the rabbit, hamster, rat, guinea pig, bird or reptile variety, did you know that the farm offers boarding facilities?
Members have voting rights at the charity’s AGM, can stand in elections for farm trustees, and are entitled to a free coffee in the cafe every month – all for £10 pa. Alternatively you might like to sponsor one of the animals – details on the farm’s website. You can contact the farm at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0131 337 4202; the membership application form can be downloaded here or picked up from the farm cafe.
There is also a special pop-up version of the farm at Ocean Terminal this Christmas; meet the animals, arrange membership or sponsorship, and find lots of stocking-fillers – hats, bags, mugs, T-shirts and the farm’s very own 2015 calendar. The pop-up farm will be open 10am-4pm until Sunday 21st December.
Gorgie City Farm is at 51 Gorgie Road, lots of buses stop outside, and it’s open every day except 25th December 2014 and 1st January 2015.