The Garden Café has given me hope

Churchfield Community Trust is one of the many social enterprises across benefiting from the supports being provided by Cork City Council through its EU-funded Atlantic Social Lab Project. Here they tell us abouttheirwork
The Garden Café has given me hope
Churchfield Community trust (Not For Profit category winners ) at the Cork Food Policy council inaugural Sustainable Food Awards at the City Hall, last year, from left, Paul O'Donnell, Jo McCarthy, Petra Bakker, Dave Cody, Tommy Lysaght, Mairead Kelly and Michéal O'Connor Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CHURCHFIELD Community Trust is a community-based organisation located on the Northside of Cork City.

We respond to a very specific group of young people who need intensive support, therapeutic interventions, stability and acceptance, to achieve sustainable change at a crucial time in their lives.

Our Mission

Churchfield Community Trust as an organisation which believes that all people should have the opportunity and supportive environment to overcome challenges such as alcohol, substance misuse and offending behaviour.

Our practice is grounded in the principles of the person-centered Servol Model and remains mindful of the core values:

Maintaining a philosophy of Ignorance, in that we never assume that we know the needs of the clients we are trying to help.

Listening attentively so that we become more informed of their needs.

Being aware of our cultural arrogance so that we can make respectful interventions and become partners with the client as they strive towards their goals.

Individual programs are put in place in partnership with each participant according to his/her needs. We try to make respectful interventions, to foster responsibility and model open and honest communication always.

Our Target Group

People aged 18 to 35 years

• Ex – Offenders

• All having Substance misuse and /or alcohol dependency / addictions.

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise Initiatives feature as an intrinsic aspect of our core programme in the context of preparation for work through experiential learning and certification. Initiatives include:

1) Compass Crafts – playpark and garden furniture.

2) Continuing development of Garden Café initiative.

3) Horticulture — Growing Initiative.

The Garden Café Cork which is widely regarded as Cork’s Greenest Café is situated on the grounds of Cork Foyer (formerly Assumption Convent Cork) and is located in a beautiful Victorian style glasshouse, it offers spectacular views of Blackpool and 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 our community Garden Allotment and from local artisan producers. Parents can also unwind and relax while toddlers play in the park, explore the community garden and enjoy the fun of the mini pet farm.

This is a unique initiative which provides training and mentoring in a live Café environment to men and women who are interested in progressing to employment in the catering industry.

Training is provided both informally through immersion in the context of ‘On the Job’ experience and formally through certified training. Participants can combine the educational aspect of the programme with gaining practical experience through mentoring while working in the Garden Café.

“I was given access to additional services helping me to get back on my feet. The Community Employment Scheme for the Garden Café has given me hope on a personal and professional level” — so said one Garden Café Community Employment participant.

Horticulture ‘Garraí an Aonaigh’

A new name for our garden project emerged last year, Garraí an Aonaigh, which can be translated in two ways; ‘a garden for the coming together of people’ and ‘market garden’.

Both translations represent the Garden Teams shared vision in both meaning and purpose. Throughout 2017 and 2018 we have extended out roots into Hartys’s Field and thank the support of North Side Community Enterprises team for facilitating and creating a supportive environment for the project initiation.

The first years in a garden are always difficult in an organic based system. The process of creating workable soil, sowing and nursing young plants, transplanting, care and weeding, and harvest for each crop requires hard-work, planning, responsibility, commitment and resilience.

Our goals in terms of growing were to complete the second year of the Cork University Hospital pilot programme, provide a regular supply of salad leaves to the Garden Cafe and trial a Vegetable Box Scheme. We were successful in achieving these three goals and we also provided vegetables to Elbow Lane restaurant throughout the year.

From these experiences we have learned a lot in terms of time and scale of what can be maintained and delivered with the resources that we have. Our growing policy is to aim for an abundance of produce to create conditions for supplying year-round salads.

“Overall, we have received fantastic feedback about the produce from the garden from those we have supplied and aim to make the produce more accessible in 2019” said the Horticulture Team Leader.

Compass Crafts

At our work shop which is based at Churchfield a new range of Bespoke early years furniture and garden products are currently being developed by our participants under the direction of our work shop manager and carpenter.. The craftsmanship is of an extremely high standard.

Our team engage with participants through a structured time managed programme with practical and educational skills alongside therapeutic interventions and support.

Compass Crafts focus on a product range that will be within the skill set and capability of our client group. The range includes garden furniture, creche furniture, play park, small garden and household items. It is important to strike a balance between setting achievable goals for the participants and expanding their skill set.

“Since I got clean and started in Churchfield Community Trust it has been one of the constant positive factors in my recovery and my personal life as well as my progression with education,” so said another participant..

Churchfield Community Trust is one of many social enterprises across Cork benefiting from the supports being provided by Cork City Council through it’s EU funded Atlantic Social Lab Project. You can find out more about the Atlantic Social Lab project by going to or emailing

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