The Garden Café, a tranquil getaway just off of Cowley Road, is as much a sanctuary for the public as for its members. I came along to spend a little time with the members and the staff to find out just what makes the Café so special.
It’s been thirteen years since the Café opened, during which time there have been a number of changes to the interior space to reflect the needs of the groups that regularly come in, including the Mums and Babies Groups who frequent the Café on Tuesdays. Nowadays there is a little reading library, a chest with toys for all ages, two comfortable couches, plenty of tables, and shelving displaying some of the items made at other Restore sites which are for sale. As well as fresh food which is as healthy and nutritious as it is delicious (the author recommends winter soup and their banana bread dessert), the Café sells produce including chutneys, jams, and spreads – perfect for gifting to friends and family.
A new addition of a garden plot to the side of the Café means that members will soon be able to grow their own produce right outside of their door for cooking. This green ethos is echoed in the Café’s recent move to becoming a Refill Station. At the moment you can bring your water bottle in for a refill, but soon you’ll be able to top up your washing liquids, soap powders and more (all plastic free).
Recovery Coordinator Christine McDermott joined in July and has already made a big impact. She says
“The garden plot is a great development, and will allow our members to have a different experience within the Café. It’s connecting people and food. Members who come to the Garden Café get to work in a public-facing roles and we are very much focussed on engagement. Here they can build skills in customer service, learn about food and nutrition, and be creative with food.”
Around 23 members come to the site each week, with varying degrees of experience in preparing food and customer service. We spoke to Adam, who has been a member at the Garden Café for a year and a half. He said
“What I learn here I can take home. I already knew how to cook but I can learn new things here, try making different cakes, quiches, toasties, and experiment with flavours. I try to eat well, so the food here is great because it’s really healthy. I started at Elder Stubbs as a member, and learned about growing food, so now I get to cook it too!”
Christine says that the Garden Café is a positive place for people to build their confidence and experience in order to prepare for work, “It’s a good stepping stone for future opportunities”.
“I really enjoy coming along here and meeting and talking to new people. Working here is great experience for my CV. I also volunteer elsewhere and learn different skills there”.
So if you’re ever in need of a little peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of Cowley Road, or just want to try some of the delicious food for yourself please do join us in the Garden Café, open Monday-Friday 10am-3.30pm.
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Or phone us on: 01865 455823