The boss of of the new Ivy Den Café, part of Cleavley Community Forest Garden in Eccles, says he hopes visitors and Salford residents can safely connect with one another and nature.
The new engaging outdoor space has been a long time in the making according to Ian Bocock, the Director and Horticulture Educational Lead at IncrEdible Education.
He said: “Because we had hoped to open the café in July, people were saying ‘Oh, is it open yet?’, but once people were able to come they enjoyed the fact that they could sit in a really nice setting, have a drink and be social.”
Although the Cafe’s opening was delayed, Ian explained that visitors have been sending positive feedback to the Forest Garden team throughout the past weeks.
Ian also recalled a special moment that a couple of visitors shared after meeting at the café: “We had a really nice experience last week when there was a couple who were having a walk, they were sat at one of the tables made by the volunteers and then another lady came and sat down and although they didn’t know each other, they were able to socially distance and have a conversation.
“It’s sort of breaking down barriers, visitors get to come and meet people from their local community, it’s just nice to see those connections be made.”
During the planning process in 2019, the Forest Garden staff worked in partnership with Salford City Council and the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation along with additional funding being supplied from The Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.
However, behind the scenes, a group of dedicated volunteers have been working to create hand-crafted furniture from replenished wood, roof tiles and other materials, keeping the café and surrounding spaces environmentally friendly.
After finding ways to connect with the community, even through the unprecedented times the Covid-19 pandemic has brought, the simplicity of having a new café has proved to have greater meaning, reinforcing a sense of community for many visitors.
As Cleavley Community Forest Garden café set off on their new journey, Ian and his team of volunteers are optimistic for the future and are hoping to host a series of events including possible poetry readings.
From 11am-4pm every Tuesday to Thursday, The Ivy Den Café will be open to serve cups of ManCoCo coffee, other hot drinks and fresh cakes from a local Eccles baker.