The Garden Café Cork, widely regarded as Cork’s Greenest Café, has reopened for business.
A social enterprise run by Churchfield Community Trust, the café is situated on the grounds of Cork Foyer (formerly the old Assumption Convent) on Assumption Road, Cork and located in a beautiful Victorian style glasshouse, offering spectacular views of Blackpool. It is open daily from Monday to Friday each week for morning coffee, freshly baked scones, brownies and flap jacks. An exciting lunch menu is on offer daily using the finest seasonal produce sourced from their own community garden allotments at the Foyer and at the Hydro Farm in Tower, and from local artisan producers.
The produce used at the Garden Café comes from their own ‘Farm to Fork’ initiative using organic principles. Parents can unwind and relax while toddlers play in the park and explore the community garden.
At first glance this café aspires to the high standards of many other Cork restaurants; however, there is a wider picture which focuses on providing adult education in a unique community spirit. Certified training and mentoring in food and beverage, barista, food hygiene HACCP, customer service is provided in a live café environment which follows all Failte Ireland Covid -19 Safety Charter Protocols.
Paul O’Donnell, Project Manager of Churchfield Community Trust, described opening after the lockdown: “Opening after Covid-19 has been a real challenge for us as a social enterprise with limited resources, but what we lack in resources we make up for with motivation and determination. I am really proud of the entire Churchfield Community Trust Team and the spirit in which each challenge was taken on which included adapting work practices and also adhering strictly to the Covid Protocols.” He continued, “If anything for us as an enterprise with a social conscience the changes to work practices have been an opportunity to up-skill our staff and participants on Covid regulation which are skills needed for all walks of life currently.”
“I would like to ask people working and living locally to come and support all small and medium size enterprises over the next number of months”.
“Educating myself has challenged me to think differently, cope differently, react differently to situations that arise in my daily life. It has changed my perception of myself as someone who did not belong in society to someone who can contribute and hold his head up high. Churchfield Community Trust was the conduit that facilitated my journey from long-term unemployment, poverty, addiction and generally living on the fringes of society to participation in continuing education to now being employed in the field of addiction. Returning to education has been an extremely rewarding experience. “
Anonymous Participant Quote
– Garrai an Aonaigh
Churchfield Community Trust’s horticulture team mentors participants in growing and supply of seasonal vegetables and herbs at their growing sites at Hydro Farm, Tower (near Blarney) and Cork Foyer, respectively. The growing and supply of vegetables and herbs initiative to local restaurants is facilitated by Horticulture Team Leader Mairead Kelly. The Team have recently engaged with a Trinity College Dublin MBA Team in the context of Social Enterprise Business Development a part of long-term strategy implementation at the newly developed Health Service Executive St. Mary’s Primary Care Campus.
At their workshops in Knockfree Avenue and Ballyvolane Business Park the carpentry team design, develop and manufacture outdoor garden and indoor early years furniture which is made to measure in response to individual needs. Garden furniture can be purchased directly from the Garden Café.
– Infrastructure Development
There have been significant infrastructure developments during 2019 & 2020 in the context of medium to long term investment in social enterprise within Churchfield Community Trust. Installation of commercial power supply to the Garden Café has recently been completed as has development of an integrated area to display hand crafted furniture adjacent to the Garden Café. The Garden Café has re-opened to the public from 6th July and the current focus is procurement and installation of industry standard catering equipment to support training and mentoring in the context of food preparation, barista, and customer service.
These strategic developments were made possible following successful funding applications to ESB Energy for Generations Fund, Cork City Council, Cork City Partnership and Department of Rural and Community Development, respectively.
– The Future for CCT Social Enterprises
Churchfield Community Trust has collaborated with Cork City Council as part of Atlantic Social Lab which is a 20-month EU funded project under the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme which comprised of 9 partners from Spain, Portugal, France, United Kingdom & Ireland. The aims of the collaboration were to promote social innovation as a way of addressing social challenges focusing on two thematic areas:
(1) Social Enterprise / Social Economy;
(2) Public engagement.
A Churchfield Community Trust Group also recently collaborated with University College Cork as part of an Irish Research Council initiative which looked at the effectiveness of Work Integrated Social Enterprise Initiatives and the role of Work Integrated Social Enterprise (WISE) in supporting desistance and reintegration. The group were hosted by Glasgow City Council & Social Firms Scotland.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to represent Churchfield Community Trust on this trip to Glasgow to view how other work integrated social enterprises operate.” RB Support Worker
The Churchfield Community Trust Team are well positioned to address challenges which may arise in a social enterprise context as a result of Covid – 19 and also to implement key learnings from its recent collaborations with Cork City Council, University College Cork, and Irish Research Council .
-Work which continued during Covid -19
Although all CCT Social Enterprises closed during Covid – 19, Churchfield Community Trust staff team engaged with other community-based organization’s as part of a coordinated local response in the Churchfield, Gurranabraher and Blarney Street area. Collaborative practice between community groups throughout Cork City has been of a high order during this pandemic. This is something as Corkonians that we should be extremely proud of.
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