Words by Rosie Cattrell
An open invitation to creative thinkers, green-fingered freelancers and growing business minds alike.
As we all know, creativity needs careful tending and room to grow and blossom, and in the right conditions productivity can thrive. But this can be hard to come by in a time of busy office cubicles and working-from-home kitchen tables. However, if you are in the vicinity of the Cornish seaside town of Newquay, there is a unique opportunity within your reach.
Nestled in the heart of Newquay lies a not so secret garden, carefully tended by over 700 like-minded volunteers over the past five years, just waiting to be stumbled upon by badger, bee and business owner alike. Over at the Newquay Orchard, the team have been cultivating a passion for community, mental health and employability since 2015, and lovingly refer to our green spaces as the ‘green lungs’ of our towns, breathing fresh life into our busy worlds.
Volunteers engaged in planting trees
With this ethos in mind, CEO Luke Berkeley has planted a seed of opportunity, with the aim of dovetailing the Newquay Orchard and individuals using the office space to result in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Offering a range of resources including business support, workshops, talks and meeting rooms, the Co-workspace has opened its doors to welcome freelancers, creatives and business owners keen to be part of a local green project to be proud of, as the first of its kind in the UK to bring together a community garden and a collaborative office-working environment.
Kowel Gwenen, Cornish for ‘beehive’, is the rather aptly named and freshly constructed building responsible for housing this exciting new project. “The way we work as a society has been changing for a long time now,” says Luke, “and this has only been accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic. I think bringing together lots of different people with different specialisms, in a space that we have proven can benefit mental health, will be a fascinating reaction to this change in working life.”
The Co-workspace will run on a membership scheme whereby members can use the space on a half-day, full-day, flexible or permanent working arrangement. Becoming a member means individuals using the Co-workspace can benefit from the daily changing menus in Canteen at the Orchard, make use of the opportunity to volunteer alongside the horticulture team and gain priority access to tickets for future events held at Newquay Orchard. To see first-hand the positive effects this green and nurturing atmosphere is having as a work environment, you need look no further than the fresh-faced Newquay Orchard staff, as Luke points out: “The office team here at Newquay Orchard experience first-hand the benefits that can come from working in a community space like this. Taking that time away from their screen to walk through the Orchard, join a volunteering session or even forage for some herbs to take home for dinner has impacted their ways of working and their mental and physical health and that’s what we want to share with our members of the Co-workspace at Kowel Gwenen.”
Productivity with a view
Sharing the bustling beehive that is Kowel Gwenen with the Co-workspace, and offering so much more than that much-needed work day caffeine boost, is Canteen at the Orchard. Ben Quinn and Paul Saunders have come together to re-wild coffee lovers and serve ‘good people good food’. “We’re really proud of what we’ve created here! The team, the food, the environment is already working so well together and now with the public here too we can see this community thriving!” says Ben, founder of Canteen Cornwall. There’s a real sense of togetherness and collaboration here, and a love for the space and the local area. As co-founder of Tom Thumb in Newquay, Paul’s fond feelings for the town are well founded: “I love Newquay and I’m passionate about helping people in this town. Newquay Orchard make a huge difference to the local community and we’re so proud to be a part of that. Being a welcoming place where people can enjoy our food, possibly even make a new friend and benefit from being in nature is our goal.” Along with the iconic cinnamon buns and rich Origin coffee that comes with the Canteen brand, so too does the seemingly never-ending stretch of a wooden table perfectly designed for conversation starting and idea sharing, taking us back to a time of feasts and storytelling.
Tim Hunt is the Business Memberships Coordinator at the Orchard. Working with new members to bring the space to life, he believes it’s pioneering a new way of businesses working together. “We’re creating a business commune here with likeminded people who share the values we uphold. That collaboration, which might be over a networking lunch in Canteen at the Orchard or even on the commute to their desk through the espalier, will drive real social, economic and environmental impact through independent businesses in our community and further afield. People working in sectors from wellbeing and creative to finance and sustainability have shared their interest, so you can definitely expect someone interesting to be sat on the desk next to you!”
Home-grown ingredients for the Canteen
The Co-workspace isn’t only a place for contemplation and self-development, but also connections and collaboration, and with the option of workshops and talks designed to help you develop your eureka idea, you get a real feeling of mutual motivation and drive for a brighter future in a place that really values the environment, community wellbeing and growth. Whether you’re just starting up and you’d like to pop in here and there to hot desk it and get a taste of what’s on offer, or if you’re a bit further along and you’d like to establish a permanent desk and unlimited access to all that’s available, there’s a setup to suit your needs. With yoga classes on the grass terraces of the Cornish stone performance space to relieve the tensions of the day, and networking lunches hosted in Canteen at the Orchard to bring eager minds together, a perfect habitat for productivity and creative flow is adopted.
With all this at your fingertips, I for one can’t possibly imagine a better workspace. The thought of glancing up from my desk for the day to the wholesome view of the community kitchen garden right outside; seeing first-hand where the ingredients that make up my lunch have been nestled in the earth, tended by the caring hands of the people around me, and having the option to take a break and wander outside to join the conversation on the big table brings with it a sense of peace and belonging, which is exactly how the team at Newquay Orchard want you to feel. You’re part of it all.