The Social Gardener
The Social Gardener is a cafe and community space/resource centre for immigrant women located in Little India . While the cafe is open to the public at large, The Social Gardener is adjacent to the Riverdale Immigrant Women's Centre , which provides resources on everything from childcare to sexual health to job hunting.
Manager Marni Wolf fills me in on the additional programming The Social Gardener will provide.
"We'll have yoga upstairs, and an art gallery featuring local community artists. We'll also have a training centre for newcomer women and families, where they can learn skills to pursue jobs in the city."
The training centre will train women in food prep and cooking, among other skills. And in the back of the cafe, there will be desk space for rent, and there's a copy centre, too, for putting together resumes or whatever else the women may need.
Wolf tells me that as of now, costs for desk space can be worked out by giving her a call, and desks can be rented by the hour, by the week, etc.
The space itself can only be described as warm and charming. It's got the reticent exposed brick, old wood beams, and mismatched furniture, but it looks organic and much less deliberate than some spots.
It's as though your granny moved into a cool loft and brought all her furniture collected through the decades. There are comfy chairs and couches in back for lounging, a massive chalkboard, and art supplies waiting to be used.
The cafe is still in development. In a few weeks' time, there will be a daily soup, salad and sandwich served, as well as desserts, many of which are vegan. The coffee is from a local roaster: Velvet Sunrise .
Treats on offer include cookies and other goodies (most of which are vegan-friendly) alongside non-vegan croissants. They also sell mason jars of seasonal preserves, with beets and kimchi on offer at present. Treats are from Sweets from the Earth and Wanda's , and the rest are made in-house.
In short, this looks like a lovely spot for a newcomer to come hang out, enjoy a coffee, get acquainted with locals if they'd like to, and learn some new skills while they're at it. The Social Gardener is just the sort of place to help people ease into life in a new country, and the more spots like that in Toronto, the better. (All proceeds, by the way, go to the women's centre).
Photos by James C Lee.