Community Gardening During Covid – Socially Distant Community Gardens

Community Gardening During Covid – Socially Distant Community Gardens

During this challenging and stressful time of the Covid pandemic, many are turning to the benefits of gardening and with good reason. Of course, not everyone has access to a garden plot or other area suitable for a garden, and that’s where community gardens come in. However, community gardening during Covid is a bit different than before since we need to practice social distancing in a community garden.

So how do socially distant community gardens look today and what are the Covid community garden guidelines?

Community Gardening During Covid

A community garden has many benefits, not the least of which is providing food, but it also gets us outside in fresh air while getting light exercise and social interaction. Unfortunately, during this pandemic it is recommended that we practice social distancing, including in a community garden.

While Covid community garden guidelines have broadened, those that are not in an ‘at risk’ category and are not ill can still enjoy their time in the community garden as long as they follow the rules.

Socially Distant Community Gardens

Covid community garden guidelines will vary depending upon your location. That said, there are some rules that are applicable wherever you are.

Generally, anyone that is over 65 and/or with an underlying health condition should take the season off, as should anyone who is ill or has come into contact with Covid-19. Most community gardens will allow you to take the season off without losing your space, but check to make sure.

Socially distant community gardens require some planning. Many community gardens have reduced the number of gardeners who can be in the space at the same time. There may be a schedule put into place to allocate time to individuals. Also, avoid bringing children or the entire family to your allocated plot.

The general public is asked not to enter the garden at any time and signs should be posted at entries to advise the public. The six-foot rule should be enforced by marking off intervals in high traffic areas of the garden such as at water sources, compost areas, gates, etc. Depending upon your location, a mask may be required.

Additional Covid Community Garden Guidelines

Many changes should be made to the garden to ensure not only social distancing but sanitary conditions. Sheds should be locked, and gardeners should bring their own tools each time they come to limit cross contamination. If you do not have your own tools, make arrangements to borrow tools from the shed and then take them home each time you leave. Any shared tools or equipment should be disinfected before and after use.

A handwashing station should be implemented. Hands should be washed when entering the garden and again when leaving. A disinfectant should be provided that can be stored safely outdoors.

Other ways to practice social distancing in a community garden are to cancel workdays and to reduce the number of people who harvest for the local food pantry. Those few who are harvesting for the pantry should practice safe food handling practices.

The rules will be different in socially distant community gardens. The community garden should have clear signage and plenty of it advising members of the rules and expectations. An amendment to the community garden rules should be created and signed off by all participating gardeners.

In the end, a community garden is about building a healthy community, and now more than ever everyone should practice excellent hygiene, observe the six-foot rule, and stay home if ill or at risk.


Some community gardens still open, but coronavirus has changed how they operate

Monday

Community gardens in the Columbus area deal with social distancing in a variety of ways

At a time of social distancing and travel restrictions, gardening is one of the best ways to get exercise and to experience the soothing side of nature.

But what happens when your garden also is your social gathering place?

Community gardens balance the sometimes solitary pastime of working the soil with the camaraderie and togetherness of friendship and community. Currently, however, one side of that equation is necessarily taking precedence over the other.

"People come out for community, but also for solace and meditation, so it’s a trade-off," said Neeraj Tayal, who manages the community garden that five families, including his own, tend next to his home in north Clintonville.

"There’s a little more silence in our garden now," Tayal said.

>> This story is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find more stories on coronavirus here. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Columbus Dispatch at subscribe.dispatch.com.

The Ohio governor’s office has advised that community food gardens can still operate under the state’s stay-at-home guidelines, said Mike Hogan, Ohio State University Extension educator and associate professor.

The Extension has emailed community garden directors with suggestions, including scheduling to ensure that the garden is never crowded, wearing gloves and not sharing tools, Hogan said.

"Gardeners need to practice the same common-sense hygiene and social distancing that we’re all using in everyday life," Hogan said. "In most community garden settings, it won’t be a problem to keep that proper 6-foot distance."

Ohio State, however, has its own stay-at-home regulations in place that prohibit anyone connected with the university from participating in in-person events until July 6. That means that community gardens managed by the Extension’s Master Gardener volunteers should not be operating, Hogan said.

When those gardens do reopen later, they could be planted with short-season crops or outfitted with protective devices such as row covers to extend the growing season and still provide a harvest this year, he said.

According to the governor’s guidelines, Hogan said, community gardens that are strictly ornamental or grown for beautification should not be operating either.

Tayal said he began communicating with his gardeners in January about some of the changes that might need to be made at what the participating families call Village Community Garden (because it’s on Village Drive).

Tayal is a physician at Ohio State University Hospitals, "so I have some sensitivity about the issues" around social distancing, he said.

"We have to take it seriously," he said.

The changes started with what had been the tradition of gathering together to start seeds at Tayal’s house, he said, adding, "That was something that was almost symbolic, that we didn’t do this year."

Instead, Tayal did the work himself.

Most of the participants are still willing to get out and do work in the garden, Tayal said. But now that work is usually done by individual families or couples.

Tayal coordinates schedules online so the families don’t overlap their time in the garden, he said.

"People sign up for the hours they want to work as a husband-and-wife team," he said.

There have been other changes, too.

"We would always share hand tools, but now everyone brings their own," Tayal said.

And the name of the garden has been temporarily changed.

"We’re now calling ourselves the Village immUnity Garden," Tayal said.

Theresa Martin, who manages the Heaven Sent Community Garden near Canal Winchester, said the uncertainty surrounding this spring made her "a little hestitant to start planting this year."

Martin also is president of the Greater Columbus Growing Coalition, which offers advice and help to more than two dozen area community gardens and to individual gardeners.

"It has affected some of our gardens, while others are going full-speed ahead," she said. "And we’ve canceled a lot of events, including our April meeting. But we can still Facetime one another and we can still garden."

The garden Martin manages was designed with the adjacent preschool, Heaven Sent Children’s Academy, in mind, she said.

Martin and a small group of volunteers started the community garden at the behest of the school’s director, Martin said.

"I’d bring the kids out three times a week for classes, scavenger hunts, taste testing," she said. "It’s hard to motivate some adults, but kids get so excited when they’re out in a garden."

Parents of the daycare children received a lot of the garden’s produce, and the rest was given away to the public one Saturday a month during growing season.

This spring, however, the daycare is closed.

Martin said she entertained thoughts of shutting down the garden this year, "But then I thought, ‘That’s silly. We won’t be harvesting for months, anyway.’’’

She and her volunteers hope school is back in session by that time and that the monthly produce giveaways can resume. If not, she will ask the school to email parents to pick up some of the produce curbside. Any what is left will go to a food pantry, she said.

In any case, she and her volunteers will do what they can, Martin said. And by helping the garden, they are also helping themselves at a difficult time, she said.

"Gardening is good for the mind, body and the spirit," Martin said.

Teresa Waits, a support professional at Columbus Center for Human Services on the West Side, also manages the agency’s community garden. The nonprofit agency offers day and residential services to people with disabilities.

The AccessABLE Community Garden is set up as a sensory garden and vegetable garden with raised, accessible beds usually tended by the agency’s clients, Waits said.

"The garden is one way we can help people live a richer life," she said. "It’s very therapeutic."

But because many of the agencies clients are high-risk, and because a partial closure of one of the agency’s buildings has made the garden less accessible, Waits is now tending the garden alone.

"It’s been pretty much just me since the self-quarantine has come into effect," she said.

Waits said she is hoping that when the current crisis is over, her work will mean that the garden will still be an inviting and nurturing place.

In past years, produce from the garden has been given away at the agency’s own periodic "farmers market."

Clients who helped in the garden cherished the mission of providing produce for the community, Waits said.

"These are people who are used to being taken care of they’re not used to taking care of other people," she said. "It was a real point of pride that they could grow things and share them with the community, that they could help take care of others."


UPDATED: Important Service Changes

The World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 disease, known as the coronavirus, a pandemic. Due to this, GreenThumb is making important service changes, to ensure the health and safety of our partners and the public. You can learn more, including how to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, on the CDC or NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene webpage.

For important NYC Parks Department information, please visit NYC Parks' Service Announcements page.

Find out more about GreenThumb’s best practices for community gardening, additional safety precautions, program cancellations, and potential closures before you head to a garden or event. Download GreenThumb's " Working Together Remotely " Toolkit for resources on virtual engagement with your garden members. For updates on upcoming workshops and events, please visit the Garden Events page.

PUBLIC ACCESS POLICY: GREENTHUMB COMMUNITY GARDENS ON NYC PARKS PROPERTY
updated September 16, 2020

Community Gardens operating on NYC Parks property may remain open to garden members at the discretion of each licensed garden group. Gardens may also now reopen to members of the public at the discretion of each garden group. Gardens are not required to host public open hours.

Garden activities
Effective 9/10/2020, GreenThumb community garden groups operating on NYC Parks property may host public events with prior written approval from GreenThumb. Attendance at all approved events will be capped at 25 people, or less, depending on the size and layout of the garden. A garden member must remain on-site at all times to ensure observance of public health requirements by all attendees. Garden groups may submit a request to host an event at THIS LINK. Food distribution activities remain permitted as outlined on the GreenThumb website.

*Si el español es el idioma primario de los miembros del grupo de jardinería y desea organizar un evento, por favor contacte a [email protected]

Outdoor Learning
Please note that all requests for schools in New York City to use NYC Parks properties, including community gardens, as outdoor classrooms must be submitted by school principals through the Outdoor Learning Initiative.

Garden groups that open to garden members or the public must observe the following:

  • Collaborative decision-making: All decisions regarding reopening should be made in accordance with the garden group’s bylaws and decisions should be clearly communicated to all garden members.
  • Notify NYC Parks GreenThumb: Garden groups that plan to reopen to the public must first notify their GreenThumb Outreach Coordinator, so that we can keep track of which gardens are open.
  • Signage: Garden groups must hang clear signage near the garden entrance communicating its public access policy. You can download signage and templates in multiple languages below.
  • Face Covering: To help ensure safety within the confined space of many gardens, everyone inside of gardens (gardeners and the public) must always wear face covering, even if they are more than 6 feet away from other individuals.
  • Social Distancing: Everyone inside of community gardens (gardeners and the public) must always observe safe social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between all people. Social distancing applies even if a face covering is used. Consider staggering access for garden members to reduce the number of people inside.
  • Maximum occupancy: Regardless of garden size, the total occupancy at any community garden may not exceed 25 people at any time.
  • Gardens must be attended: Groups may not open the garden gates and leave the garden unattended.
    Garden groups must have a garden member physically located on site whenever the garden is open to the public to help ensure that social distancing and face covering requirements are being adhered to and that large groups do not gather.
  • Responding to incidents: Gardeners are not responsible for enforcing NYC Parks rules or correcting anyone’s behavior. Please politely remind and educate garden members and public visitors on social distancing and face covering protocols if necessary and if you are comfortable doing so. Concerns about individuals who refuse to observe social distancing should be reported to 311. For more serious issues, you should contact GreenThumb, call NYC Parks Central Communications at (646) 613-1200, or 911 depending on the severity of the issue.
  • Indoor spaces: No more than one person may be in a confined indoor space at the same time, such as greenhouses, sheds, and casitas.
  • Permitted activities within Community Gardens: Gardeners may continue all necessary maintenance and gardening activities. Large projects that require many hands should still be avoided. Garden groups may now host in-person meetings of the garden group at the garden, but social distancing and face covering protocols must continue to be followed. These garden meetings must be critical to discuss the management of the group and space.
  • Disinfect Commonly Used Surfaces: Where possible, wash and disinfect commonly used and handled tools and equipment and other surfaces likely to be touched by many people such as gates, locks, hoses, handles, and furniture. Disinfection guidelines can be found on the CDC website. Unfortunately, the City of New York does not have the ability to provide cleaning products or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Factors for garden groups to consider before reopening to the public:

  • Garden group support and communication: Does the garden group support the decision? How will the group continue to communicate and keep in touch? Will the garden group reevaluate the decision to reopen after a specific amount of time?
  • Group capacity: How many members does the garden have, and what is their availability to ensure that all requirements above can be met?
  • Open hours: Even if garden groups reopen to the public, they do not have to maintain the 20 hours of public access at this time. Groups should consider what public open hours will be, how will they be determined, and how the garden group will identify members to be present at the garden during open hours.
  • Garden size: How large (or small) is the garden, and does the garden group have confidence that social distancing can be adhered to within the garden during public access?
  • Expected garden usage: How do members of the public typically use the garden, and how might that change in the current environment?
  • Maximum occupancy: Is the garden group establishing a maximum occupancy for the number of individuals inside the garden at any one time? How will that be communicated? Total occupancy may not exceed 25 people at one time garden groups may choose a lower limit among themselves.
  • Cleaning: Is the garden group able to regularly disinfect shared tools, equipment, and surfaces, including portable toilets? Will hand sanitizer or other means to wash hands be available?
  • Community composting: If the garden group has an active composting operation, will you accept food scraps from neighbors? Can you do this safely? How is this being communicated? How will the group respond if the amount of food scraps overwhelms the group?
    *Please see our COVID-19 Composting Safety Guide for guidelines and resources.
  • Signage: What kind of signage should be prepared and hung to support safe public access to the garden? Will certain garden areas remain open to members only?
  • Garden clean-up: What debris and other obstructions must be cleared up or stored away by the garden group before reopening to ensure that the garden is safe for visitors?
  • Illness and high-risk populations: Does the garden group have members who are at high risk, or do members have friends and family that they will come into contact with who are at high risk? How will garden members who become ill be advised to refrain from gardening while sick?
  • Garden Membership: Garden groups can continue to accept new members, at their discretion, if they believe that they can orient new members in accordance with all applicable requirements.
  • Review Current COVID-19 Information: Gardeners should review current information and guidelines on COVID-19 on the CDC and DOHMH webpage, especially with regard to populations at risk.
  • Trash removal: What is the garden group’s plan to safely collect and remove trash form the site?
  • Bylaws: Are your group’s bylaws and governance documents able to guide decision making, and even disagreements, on the many topics that are likely to arise in the coming months? GreenThumb can help your group update them if needed.

Please visit this page to stay informed of any changes as things continue to evolve. If garden groups have specific questions, they should feel free to contact their designated Outreach Coordinator. GreenThumb shares gardeners’ excitement in taking this first step toward reopening the gardens to the public. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions. It is imperative that we all work together and adhere to these requirements in order to help protect public health and keep our fellow New Yorkers safe.

Food Distribution for GreenThumb Community Gardens on NYC Parks Property
updated 5/29/2020

NYC Parks GreenThumb has consulted with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and we have outlined requirements below for the continued distribution of food through a farmers market, farm stand, fresh food box, CSA, or similar operation. These requirements are mandatory for gardens operating on NYC Parks property. Garden groups in this category must confirm with their GreenThumb Outreach Coordinator that they have received this message and that they are complying with best practices. NYC Parks GreenThumb is also sharing this guidance with all gardens since it includes a number of tips to help improve public health at food distribution sites.

The practices outlined below were approved by DOHMN in order to ensure social distancing of six feet and a clean environment for food sales and distribution. They include:

  • NYC Parks Requirements: For gardens on NYC Parks property, only food produced on-site can be sold, and only to support the continued operation of the garden, with the exception that gardens can also serve as pick-up locations for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Prepared meals and processed foods may not be distributed at gardens.
  • Food Handling: Only garden group members and those assisting with food distribution may handle products. Customers must not touch any produce or products before purchase or distribution. Consider pre-packaging produce into bags where possible.
  • Food Coverings: All garden members and all members of the public must wear a face covering at all times.
  • Gloves: All gardeners/vendors and those assisting with processing transactions must wear protective gloves. When possible, to prevent cross contamination, those handling transactions should be separate from those handling any produce or food products.
  • Sanitizing: All gardeners, and those assisting with food distribution operations, should sanitize their stands regularly, primarily wiping down tables, terminals, cash boxes, etc..
  • Tent Spacing: Any tents should be spaced at least 10-feet apart to reduce congestion, ideally further.
  • Table Covers: Vinyl or plastic table covers should be used for easy sanitizing.
  • No Sampling: Absolutely no sampling of products is permitted.
  • No Beverages by-the-cup: No selling of any beverages by the cup is permitted.
  • Stay Home if Sick: All gardens and those assisting with food distribution must stay home if they are sick.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizer should be available at market manager stations.
  • Social Distancing: All gardeners must observe social distancing of six feet or more. Please politely remind all customers to observe social distancing of six feet or more, cover their coughs, not touch their faces, and stay home if they are sick by posting signage such as this one, also available in multiple languages here.

For additional guidance, please see guidance for food retailers here. Additional information about COVID 19 and DOHMH resources can be found here.

Thank you in advance for your close attention to these requirements. We encourage you to continue to take all necessary steps to help keep yourself and our City safe during this challenging time. You can learn more, including how to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, on the CDC or NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene webpage.

GreenThumb Programming

Find out more about our additional safety precautions, program cancellations, and potential closures before you head to a garden or event. For updates on upcoming workshops and events, please visit the Garden Events page.


Workshops
All GreenThumb-led workshops are being offered online until further notice. For the latest updates, please visit the Garden Events page.


Coronavirus & community gardens

As the Coronavirus crisis continues to dominate the national and global landscape, the Capital Growth team are reaching out to members, projects and gardens to see how we can support as many of you as possible to continue to grow food.

Last updated 15 March 2021

March 2021: What does the Roadmap out of Lockdown mean for community food growing spaces?

Please note that community gardens and growing spaces can continue running volunteer and gardening activities under current guidance (work and volunteer activities permitted outside the home when not possible to do from home) but please continue to apply covid-secure measures (staying at least 1 metre apart and wearing face coverings etc.)

In the meantime, the proposed steps in the roadmap that most impact growing spaces and activities are listed below:

  • outdoor gatherings of 6 people (or 2 households) permitted after 29 March
  • the 'stay at home' rule ends 29 March (although many restrictions remain)

  • outdoor hospitality venues, public buildings and community centres can reopen on 12 April (along with non-essential retail)
  • outdoor hospitality venues can serve outdoors (including garden cafes etc.)

  • most legal restrictions on outdoor gatherings lifted on 17 May and events of up to 30 people permitted (plus large indoor events permitted in some cases e.g. sports)
  • indoor gatherings permitted for up to 6 people (or 2 households)

  • most other restrictions due to be lifted by 21 June

January 2021: What does the new lockdown mean for community food gardens? How can we support you?

We know that the current situation with the virus and news of the new lockdown is worrying and unsettling. We want to support the food growing community wherever we can so please get in touch if you have specific queries or concerns. In the meantime, we've digested the government guidance and listed below are the areas we feel most affect community gardening settings and activities:

  • You can continue to work and/or volunteer outside of the home if not possible to do so from home and continue with covid-secure measures for your space/venue/garden.
  • When around other people (not in your household or support bubble), stay 2 metres apart. When this is not possible stay 1 metre apart with extra precaution e.g. wear face covering.
  • Public gardens can remain open (just not indoor parts of the sites) and are encouraged as spaces to meet for exercise (you can meet with one other person from outside your household/bubble for exercise).
  • You can continue to meet in larger groups in a work or volunteering context (the government hasn't specified how many in a larger group).
  • Garden centres and agricultural supplies shops remain open.
  • Support groups can continue to run in person (with up to 15 participants) where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or other forms of support (could relate to community gardens, for example therapeutic gardening group).
  • Remember 'Hands Face Space': Hands - Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. Face - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult. Space - stay 2 metres apart from people or 1 metre with extra precautions e.g. wearing a face covering.

The second lockdown - what does it mean for community food gardens?

With the second lockdown starting on 5th November, we’re aware that many community food growers in London and beyond are wondering what this means for their gardens and allotments. We’ve digested the guidance in relation to community food growing and below are some key points which we hope are useful in helping you keep your garden open safely and confidently, keep volunteers coming and keep growing:

  • Volunteering outside your home can continue but everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).
  • Support groups that are essential to deliver in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. For example, in a community garden context, this could include therapeutic gardening projects.
  • Outdoor public places you can continue to visit include public gardens and allotments (you cannot meet in a private garden).
  • Outdoor recreation and exercise is encouraged (visiting allotments is included in permitted exercise).
  • Individuals can meet one person from outside their household in an outside public space (this could include a public garden).
  • Clinically vulnerable people are advised not to leave the home to work or volunteer.
  • Garden centres will remain open.

Sustain maintains, as we did in the first lockdown, that community food gardens are a necessity for many, playing a significant role in accessing fresh fruit and vegetables in local communities both in the short term, but also in the medium term (leaving gardens derelict would take months to turn around post lockdown). As well as the role gardens play in food production, they also provide opportunities for access to nature and green spaces for those that use them, contributing towards increased mental and physical health.

Rule of 6 - are gardens exempt?

This info about the rule of 6 was published in September

The recent 'rule of 6' has understandably caused community gardens to question their activities and feel anxious about whether they're doing the right thing. We hope the below helps to answer some of your questions and concerns and we will continue to update this page as things change.

  • Gardens must continue to operate with covid-secure measures (advice and sample risk assessments available at the bottom of this page).
  • Most gardens are exempt from the 'rule of 6' on account of the fact their activities fall under 'charitable purpose', 'work' or 'essential services'.This includes volunteers.
  • If your garden is open to the public, visitors must comply with the 'rule of 6'.

Please note that all guidance continues to point towards outdoor activities being far safer than indoor activities. And in some cases (like in Scotland) the use of face coverings in gardens is strongly advised. Please contact us if you have any questions, concerns or comments about our Covid-19 advice for gardens.

Covid-19 Survey for Gardens

Our survey received over 100 responses. Read our news item or download our report to find out how community gardens are responding to the crisis.

Many of you told us you want to grow food this season and we think it's critical to keep our community gardens and allotments growing through the Covid-19 crisis, where safe to do so.

Our support

We are helping local networks and gardens to keep growing through the pandemic in the following ways:

  • Online training
  • Webinars to share experiences
  • Community Harvest: a new project to grow food to share

And check out our subpages in the menu on

  • resources and materials
  • other responses to Covid-19

Webinar

Our post-lockdown community food growing webinar on Wednesday 1 July, was organised by Sustainable Food Places and Sustain for Capital Growth and Good to Grow gardens.

The webinar covered strategies for re-opening gardens in a safe way and identified areas for support and widening participation.

Speakers included: Sustain, Social Farms and Gardens, Story Garden, Calthorpe Garden, Penrose Roots, Cordwainers Grow and Ageing Better.

Supporting community gardens during Covid-19

We know how important food growing can be for the wellbeing of people and whole communities. As the team at OrganicLea says: “Being outdoors is good for us all and for our overall health and wellbeing. Looking after our mental health is crucial at this time and many of us find that green spaces and nature connection supports us through difficult times such as these.”

Now more than ever it is critical to keep people and gardens growing as part of longer-term resilience and we know there has been a surge of interest in growing your own. We want to make sure people are doing it well, safely – and in a nature-friendly way!

Guidance for community gardens during Covid-19

We have teamed up with several community gardens (including Calthorpe and Story Garden) and used their policies to create documents you can download and adapt according to your setting:

Below are some general guidance points to use in your garden or project:

  • Gardens should be accessible for members only rather than open to the public (this will be changing after new guidelines are announced after 4 July)
  • Anyone considered medically vulnerable/subject to government.shielding advice should not visit the garden.
  • Rotas or booking slots should be set up where there are a lot of members to limit the numbers of visitors into a garden at any one time.
  • Growers are advised to travel to gardens by bike or foot and avoid public transport if possible (in the event of another peak, public transport should be avoided all together by garden users).
  • Garden leaders should publicise maximum number of visitors on any communications and on external signage. This should include reference to government guidance on social distancing.

Social distancing and Sanitation

  • At all times social distance (minimum 1m and 2m where possible) must be maintained between growers. Click here for guidance.
  • Hand washing should be followed according to government guidance. Wash your hands when you arrive at the garden, wear gloves while working in the garden and ensure you only use your own gloves and take those home with you.
  • Keep hand sanitiser available where possible and use before opening and closing any gate locks.
  • Ensure any visitor to the site washes their hands before they engage in growing activities even if they are going to wear gloves.
  • Growers should only use tools if wearing (own) gloves, otherwise no tools to be shared,
  • Do not offer guest gloves to garden visitors or volunteers during this period.
  • If children are onsite, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.
  • We recommend that all communal facilities are closed. e.g tea making facilities.
  • Click here for guidance if you do need to clean an area that has been visited by an infected person.

Notices for your garden

Kate Poland from the Union of Hackney Gardens has kindly shared her notices which you can adapt. One is targeted for users and the other for the wider community so they understand why you are still using the site.

Council Support

You may be thinking about approaching your local authority to ask them to support local food production (especially in the context of Covid-19). If you want more support around this, please get in touch with us and/or adapt the below template letter for use with your local authority.

Other guidance

  • National Allotment Society response to Covid-19
  • Social Farms and Gardens response to Covid-19
  • Social Farms & Gardens insurance advice for community gardens and farms
  • Landworker’s Alliance Coronavirus response and resources page.

Join our virtual training programme

Capital Growth are bringing you new online short sessions and longer training sessions.

Official information and guidance

We advise that you check the NHS and .Gov websites regularly for accurate and up-to-date information:

Read more about Sustain’s Coronavirus Food Alert here: https://www.sustainweb.org/coronavirus/


Community gardens

London is home to 17 community gardens. Over 450 gardeners are active within the gardens, which are located on municipal green space in neighbourhoods across the city.

Community gardens provide residents with many opportunities including access to healthy and low-cost food, healthy physical activity, skills enhancement, the development of meaningful relationships, and building cross-cultural partnerships.

To see a map of London’s community gardens, click here .

For the full community garden guidelines document, email us at [email protected]

New gardener registration is now open for next year’s gardening season.

1. Create your Play Your Way Online account :

To create your account visit Play Your Way Online and select the ‘Create Your Account Signup’ option.

If you’re not sure if you already have an account in our new system or need assistance, email us at [email protected] and a member of our Customer Service Team would be happy to help you.

2. Register for your plot:

  • Online: Book your plot through Play Your Way Online using your registered account and then select 'Garden Plots', and find your preferred location and plot. Make sure to select ‘May 1’ as the date to register in the left hand side column.
  • By email or over the phone: Send an email with your preferred location and plot to [email protected] and a customer service staff will be able to sign you up.​​​​​​ Alternatively, call 519-661-5575 and provide this information.
  • In person: In-person registration will be available at the City of London offices, second floor of 355 Wellington Street (Citi Plaza), Suite 248 only on Fridays between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the last two business days of every month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Registration inquiries can be sent to [email protected] .

Phone registration is not currently available. View the most up to date information on COVID-19 impacts on City services.

Is your preferred garden full? Visit the “ Garden Plot Waitlist 2021 ” under the facilities tab on Play Your Way online to be added to the waiting list.

Plots are rented on a geared-to-income basis. The rental fee ranges from $15.30 to $40.80 for a plot of approximately 200 to 400 square feet for the season (May 1 to November 30). Plots may vary slightly in size depending on the location. Gardeners are responsible for opening their garden plots up in the spring and putting their plot “to bed” in the fall. Gardeners will receive specific Guidelines for gardener responsibilities to follow. To review these before Please read before you request a garden plot.

Standing height raised beds are available upon request. Wheelchair accessible plots are listed by garden and are available through our registration. Please contact us for more information.

  1. Plant a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, flowers, grains, berries and fruit. Perennials are allowed. If you are unsure ask community garden staff.
  2. Keep your garden clear of weeds. You can compost within your garden plot.
  3. Act with respect and consideration of your fellow gardeners and the public.
  4. Appreciate the wide diversity of gardening styles in your community garden.
  5. Let other gardeners or community garden staff know when you will be away for more than two weeks so someone can water your garden.
  6. Share extra produce with your fellow gardeners and your neighbours, while maintaining physical distancing.

  1. Plant woody plants, trees, illegal plants, cannabis, or known invasive plants.
  2. Use pesticides in your garden including insecticides and herbicides or artificial fertilizers.
  3. Smoke in or within 9 metres of any community garden.
  4. Sell your produce at the garden.
  5. Install permanent or temporary structures without permission from community garden staff.
  6. Start a pile of garden waste outside your garden plot compost in your plot or take garden waste to the curb for pick-up.
  7. Make other gardeners feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.

If you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at your community garden you are able to submit an R-zone report

COVID-19 community garden guidelines

The 2020 community garden season opened with appropriate measures in place to slow the spread of the COVID virus.

Gardeners are asked to do their part and abide by the following new COVID-specific rules to keep our gardens and our gardeners safe. These are in addition to the traditional rules for every gardening season.

Gardens are open to registered gardeners only and remain closed to the public.

Gardeners not able to follow these rules will be asked to leave and will risk losing the privilege to garden.

  1. Follow current public health guidelines at all times.
  2. Always maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) both in and around the garden (except for people who live in the same household).
  3. Be mindful of busy gardening times to allow for proper physical distancing.
  4. Please limit gardening time to a maximum of 2 hours to give others a chance to garden.
  5. Access will be prohibited to anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, has been asked to self-isolate, or has had close contact with a confirmed case.
  6. Gardeners must provide their own sanitization supplies and MUST have them available each time they are in the garden. Gardeners must clean any shared surfaces they touch both before and after use.
  7. Gardeners must bring their own tools and garden gloves. Avoid sharing toolls.
  8. Your health and safety are your own responsibility.
  9. Practice proper sanitization and hand hygiene, including:
    • Wash/sanitize your hands upon entering and exiting the garden
    • Clean any surfaces outside of your plot that you touch both before and after use
    • Cover your cough into your sleeve and,
    • Use gardening gloves and launder them after each use.
  10. Events, programming, or group activities in the gardens are not allowed.
  11. The London community gardens guidelines signed off in your Plot Licence Agreement are still in effect and must also be followed.


Community Garden Delaware, Ohio

The photos are from Saturday when the Second Ward Community Center's STEAM Club and community volunteers had a work day in the garden prepping their raised beds for Spring planting. The STEAM club also planted peas in their garden plots on Saturday.
K-12 students in Delaware County schools are also encouraged to sign up to be a part of the garden club where a sister garden and a pumpkin patch among other gardening activities are being planned. Deadline is May 15, 2021.

Outlook for this garden initiative is good. The garden was run last year during COVID. Volunteers and individual plot renters were permitted to work in the garden as long as there was no more than 10 people total at a time. People were asked to bring their own tools/food and needed to follow masking and social distancing per the Ohio Department of Health.

From the center website -The Second Ward Community Center is once again hosting a Healthy Neighborhood Community Garden.

Individual plots are available for rent and the K-12 After-School Program will once again have a learning garden. COVID protocols remain in place with masks required, social distancing and disinfection of all tools after use and in-between uses. Individuals are required to bring their own food and drink if possible.

The Community Garden is focused on motivating and inspiring the residents of the Second Ward on healthy, cost-effective and innovative ways to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs or flowers right in their own neighborhood. Partnering with local community stakeholders such the Delaware General Health District, and Delaware Master Gardeners, SWCI aims to utilize the community garden as an avenue for bettering the community through providing sustainable access to food supplies for low-income families thus fostering togetherness, promoting self-empowerment and instilling healthy behaviors.

Individual plots may be rented for $25 a month. April-September.


Watch the video: How to Plan a Community Garden