Community Gardens Can Reopen Under New Public Health Guidelines
As we begin to get the current COVID-19 outbreak under control, we must begin to adapt to our "new normal" – living with the persistent threat of another outbreak, and taking appropriate measures every day to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable members of our community. Under these circumstances, while some public services and amenities can resume, news rules and protocols must be in place to keep everyone safe.
Food security and community support are of critical importance during this difficult period. I was happy to see last week’s announcement from the province that community and allotment gardens can re-open for the season if local health and safety guidelines are in place, and proud to have worked with the Food Policy Council on this important issue.
Community gardens will now open on a location-by-location basis, under new guidelines developed by Toronto Public Health, including infection prevention measures and handwashing stations.
Allotment gardens will begin to reopen the week of May 11. Community gardens exist on City of Toronto property as well as on private property. Allotment gardens are permitted through the City of Toronto and are located on City property.
Through volunteers, Toronto’s community gardens provide between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds of fresh food to community agencies each year, and more than 1,300 people use the City’s allotment gardens to grow their own food and plants.
The new guidelines provide clear instruction for garden use, hand washing hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols. As with other physical distancing directives, the guidelines for gardens require that people maintain a two metre (six feet) distance from others in the garden at all times, and limits access to no more than 5 people in each garden parcel or allotment at a time. Gardens are only open for members to plant, maintain, and harvest food, and all events and programming remains cancelled. No visitors are allowed.
In addition, because seniors age 70 and over and people with a weak immune system or pre-existing medical condition are at greater risk of COVID-19, it is recommended that these people remain home and do not participate in the gardens at this time.
More information about community and allotment gardens is available here.