Rachael Rowe visits the cosy hub of community, coffee, and culinary delights which is building a reputation for its fresh fare and warm welcome
When you open the door to the Green Cafe in Henstridge, you’re immediately greeted by the smell of freshly brewed coffee and baking – and warm smiles from the team. On a wet, wintry day, the cafe is a welcome haven – but there’s a lot more to the menu than food.
The Green Cafe is located at Henstridge in the Rainsford family’s Grassroots Garden and Aquatic Centre, a popular business owned by the Rainsford family; Misha Rainsford owns the cafe
‘We took over the cafe in September 2023, when the previous occupants left, so we’re in our fifth month. My family owns the site and my husband has done loads of work to build up the business.
When I took on the cafe I really wanted to make it somewhere for the community. Some people come in every day, others pop in weekly as part of their routine. And I want to make things affordable, especially for families. For example, festive afternoon teas were a big success.
I’d like to expand to cream teas outside in the warmer weather. We’ve also drawn in people who are just passing on the A357.
‘We make our paninis and toasties from scratch and everything is fresh on the day. We have freshly-brewed coffee and a range of cakes – and we cater for vegans, gluten free and dairy free. The menu of light lunches changes seasonally.
‘We’re very much here for the community. We have a support group for parents and carers of children with special needs that meets here. I also work for the local authority, and have an awareness of the needs for people with disabilities and those who need support. For example, one of our tables has been raised so wheelchair users can sit around it comfortably. We’re also trying to get a knit and natter group set up.’
One of the issues with setting up a cafe is always finding the right staff. Already, Misha has built up a good team.
‘I have Linda and Alana who are local. And we have younger team members who live in the village to help at busy times like the weekends.
‘Our best sellers are definitely the toasties – especially cheese and red onion, though the brie and cranberry, and ham and chutney come in close seconds! Our soups are also popular. We do also ask customers for suggestions. Kids love our milkshakes, which we have in loads of interesting flavours including biscoff.
‘We source a lot of our supplies locally and as we’re so new we’re still tasting samples! The cakes come from Hunts – using a supplier like that helps us guarantee something is gluten free or complies with allergies. We get our macarons from Emily Rose Patisserie in Sherborne. Our coffee comes from Bomo Roast in Bournemouth – and of course we use Dikes up the road.
‘One of the biggest challenges we faced initially was that people thought we were closed! But we’re not, of course. Our signs helped with that – and also using social media.
‘We’re proud that the cafe is a nice, safe place for people – and that we’ve built it up from nothing. We really started from scratch; we even had to get crockery from the Honesty Jar! I’m also very proud of the team. Local people have told us: “This is what the village needs” and that’s how we want it. We want to support the community.
‘In the summer, we are planning an open area next to the cafe, where we can also have live music.’
The Honesty Jar
Entirely separate from the Green Cafe, The Honesty Jar focuses on sustainability – you bring clean, reusable things you don’t need, and leave with new items. When we spoke, manager Samantha Flanders was busy co-ordinating various donations streaming into the shed: ‘We handle 70,000 tonnes of donations each year. We base ourselves on the old barter and exchange method. Kids actually get it more than adults! Some families are in a routine where they’ll get the kids to drop off an old toy or book and pick up a new one. You donate a sum that you are happy with, no questions asked.’
Inside there are filing cabinets of crafting material, shelves of books, children’s clothes and toys. Rows of kitchen utensils and crockery, adult clothes and shoes, and ornaments fill the space. The more you look the more you see – there’s a real danger you’ll come out with more than you donated!
In fact, it’s perfect for anyone looking to reduce their consumption, it’s useful for items for art and school projects, and it’s ideal if you are trying to stick to No New January, of course.
Even the building has been recycled. Its previous life was as a primary school in Wales! The timber holding up the roof in the entrance comes from sustainable logging on Ham Hill.
To get people thinking about how they can be creative with used items, the team also holds craft and sustainability workshops.
With good walks in the area, the Green Cafe is ideal for a day out – get good coffee and a light lunch, plan your seed planting in the Grassroots Garden Centre and hunt for bargains in the Honesty Jar – all in one place.
- Grassroots Garden Centre,
Henstridge BA8 0SA
Mon, Tue, Thu to Sat – 10am to 4pm
Sun – 11am to 3pm
Wed – Closed.
Find them on Facebook here