Aberdeen Standard Investments apprentices take urban farm under their wing

Aberdeen Standard Investments apprentices Shannon Macnamara (seated left) and her colleagues have been busy volunteering at Gorgie City Farm
Aberdeen Standard Investments apprentices Shannon Macnamara (seated left) and her colleagues have been busy volunteering at Gorgie City Farm

An urban farm celebrates its 40th anniversary in style this weekend with the help of apprentices from Aberdeen Standard Investments, who have taken Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh under their collective wing.

Six apprentices from the Edinburgh office have helped spruce up the main entrance of the venue as part of an ongoing project and in time for its Farm Fest open day on Saturday, September 2 when the venue expects thousands of visitors to pour through its gates.

Squeezed budgets and funding struggles have placed pressure on the well-known Edinburgh attraction which last year had to launch an urgent fundraising appeal to cover rising costs and a serious reduction in external funding. Within weeks, local businesses and the community had donated £100,000 and a robust business plan was put in place to ensure the long-term sustainability of the much-loved community resource. Gorgie City Farm still relies on corporate partners and public support for its existence, and its management team has been delighted to have enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers from Aberdeen Standard Investments supporting their work.

As well as helping to spruce up the grounds through general weeding, painting and maintenance, the apprentices have raised funds to purchase replacement signs and a buggy shelter, and to provide wall art and plants. They have encouraged colleagues to get involved, enlisting the support of Aberdeen’s private equity team who spent a volunteering day at the farm helping with gardening, fence painting and picnic benches maintenance. The apprentices were also joined by seven interns doing work experience with Aberdeen on another visit, who sanded down and painted picnic benches, doors and windows and demolished an old buggy shelter to make way for its replacement.

The work is being carried out as part of the Skills Development Scotland Scottish Apprenticeship Challenge. Aberdeen apprentice Shannon Macnamara said that the team was keen to try and raise the profile of the Farm, and help improve the entrance to the venue and make it more appealing for family visits.

She said: “We were looking for a volunteering project and we thought Gorgie City Farm was ideal as we see it as a place that has real potential to be a great community day out. We have two apprentices who live in Gorgie, and hope that we can make a difference and benefit our local community, make the Farm much more appealing and a place that families want to visit.

“We’ve been told that the work we are doing will boost community spirit and we really hope this helps give Gorgie City Farm the boost that it deserves.”

Claire Drummond, head of the Aberdeen Charitable Foundation, said: “We’re delighted that our apprentices have taken the lead to support this worthy Edinburgh facility. As well as taking on many tasks themselves, they have motivated colleagues to get involved and we wish them well in their endeavours. It’s a great example of our young employees taking the lead, showing initiative and seeking to make a difference in the communities where they live and work.”

Last year Gorgie City Farm received £11,000 from the Aberdeen Charitable Foundation to improve its pet boarding facilities. The foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop Aberdeen Asset Management’s charitable giving globally and seek partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact. In August 2017 Aberdeen Asset Management merged with Standard Life in an all-share merger.

Helen Syme, corporate fundraising officer at Gorgie City Farm, said it had been great for the facility to benefit from the enthusiasm and dedication of the six-strong team from Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Ms Syme said: “Gorgie City Farm is thrilled to have the support of these young and committed apprentices to help improve the entrance to the Farm. It’s thanks to all the amazing volunteers, staff, local community, in fact anyone who has ever visited the farm, that we’re still here 40 years on and that’s certainly something worth celebrating at Farm Fest.”

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