The results of a survey of users show just how positive the social impacts created by the Palmers Greenery Community Café have been.
Earlier this month, Enfield Dispatch reported that the council had shut down cafés in four of the borough's parks - the four separate companies running them (all, in fact, owned by the same local businessman) were, the council said, in breach of contract.
Hopefully, it won't be long before the cafés in Town Park, Trent Park, Oakwood Park and Whitewebbs Park are back in business and again helping keep visitors refreshed. But here in Palmers Green there are no such problems in our favourite local park.
The not-for-profit Palmers Greenery Community Café in Broomfield Park is now in its tenth year and its unique business model not only provides visitors with healthy and ethically produced (but still affordable) food and drinks, but also brings a whole range of other benefits to the park and local community.
During the summer the Palmers Greenery ran a survey of "key stakeholders", including customers, volunteers, partners, park stakeholders and local businesses, to gather feedback to show how well the café was succeeding in meeting its five "key social impact goals":
This week the team issued a 27-page report telling the story of the café so far and summarising the findings of the survey.
The report starts with some history and some facts and figures - pretty impressive stuff!
The Palmers Greenery in numbers
- £210,000 in salary costs* if café run by paid staff
- 2,000 followers on social media
- £85,500 spent with local suppliers within 5 mile radius
- 45 current volunteers of whom a quarter joined the team at launch
- 11 park wellbeing projects funded
- 15 adults and young people with additional needs who have gained work experience
- 4000 bags of floating swan and duck food sold
- 3000 dog treats sold in 2022 alone
- 15 collaborations with local groups, schools and statutory providers
- 90 Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene courses completed
- 111,000 affordable hot drinks served by our team
- 132 volunteers trained and supported over the years
- £35,000 invested in Broomfield Park
- 75% of internal waste recycled
- 27,500 volunteer shift hours since 2014
*Based on average minimum wage between 2014 - 2023
Then we get to the real meat of the report: each of the remaining chapters looks at one of the social impact goals and how well it's been met. You probably won't be surprised to learn that the Palmers Greenery gets high marks for all of them.
The Palmers Greenery's key social impact goals
- To enhance Broomfield Park and complement existing park initiatives
By providing a vibrant, safe and welcoming gathering place for residents and visitors.
- To reduce loneliness and social isolation
By providing a welcoming physical and virtual space where individuals can come together.
- To broaden volunteering, skill development and work experience
By empowering individuals through offering valuable experiences and the chance to develop new skills.
- To support local business and enterprise
By collaborating with local producers, suppliers and businesses wherever possible in sourcing our supplies and promoting their products.
- To champion environmental sustainability
By minimising our ecological footprint in the park.
Sarah Cotton on the Palmers Greenery project
Sarah Cotton has been the helm of the Palmers Greenery project since its inception in 2010 and launch in 2014 (though it's important to emphasize that it's been a team project throughout). So how's it been for her? Here are her answers to my questions.
What are you proudest of? That when scrutinised, we have been absolutely true to what we set out to achieve. We've grown and innovated but, at our core, have stuck to our vision of creating a community space for local people to get together and enjoy, to complement and enhance Broomfield Park and to provide opportunities for personal growth through volunteering. Realising our dream was by no means guaranteed at the outset and I'm so proud of our team effort.
How would you sum up the years up to and since launch? A labour of love - a roller coaster, a joy, a steep learning curve, a privilege!
Anything you would have done differently? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We definitely over-complicated things at the beginning, especially when trying to convince the council to take a leap of faith with us. Reinvesting our profit effectively in park projects was, and remains, a challenge (and a full time job!) so we have simplified how we do that, working primarily through trusted partners rather than alone.
What are your ambitions for the Palmers Greenery? To grow our team organically, to reach new customers, to continue to make a difference, to be here in another 10 years. Simple stuff.
Any new Palmers Greenery-related projects in the pipeline? Yes - watch this space. Our 10 year anniversary in June 2024 will be marked with community celebrations and we're working on a very exciting new collaborative project with FoBP and the Council to make the park more inclusive for local young people.
Any other quotes that you’d like me to include? I had this lovely feedback on the report from one of our followers on Instagram. It confirmed exactly why measuring, reporting and highlighting social impact is so important for projects like ours:
"I had no idea how the café/project all ran and the background behind it. Really interesting and heartwarming! Keep up the good work" Cat @enfield_zigzag
A café for all seasons
Summer or winter, rain or shine, festivals or ordinary days, the Palmers Greenery team always provide a warm welcome.