30 Apr
2020

HPEPH issues guidelines to support safe operation of community gardens

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties – Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) has outlined basic requirements for the operation of local community gardens this year.

The province recently advised that the operation of community gardens is permitted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but must follow recommendations from the local Medical Officer of Health. The HPEPH COVID-19 Safe Operating Requirements for Community Gardens document outlines how these important sources of fresh and healthy food can be accessed as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community gardens can provide households with a cost-effective way to source healthy food and encourage consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, while enabling outdoor physical activity. They are especially helpful for individuals who may not have the opportunity to garden on their own property. However, any use of community gardens must be carefully monitored to ensure safety and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. HPEPH will advise and support local municipalities and community organizations in implementing the safe operating requirements, which include basic principles such as:

• Ensuring physical distancing is practised at all times, and posting visual reminders of physical distancing requirements.
• Implementing appropriate infection control procedures, such as washing hands upon entry, instructing gardeners to bring their own gardening tools, and sanitizing shared gardening equipment like wheelbarrows and hoses.
• Permitting only registered garden members on the premises, creating a gardening schedule, and setting limits on the number of individuals permitted at any given time.
• Requesting that members plan ahead to reduce the number of visits required for regular garden maintenance and harvesting.
• Developing a back-up plan for garden management responsibilities, in the event a staff member or volunteer becomes ill.
• Seeking ways to prioritize available garden plots for individuals who are facing specific barriers accessing food.

“Community gardens are a great way for residents to access fresh, healthy food throughout the summer months, and provide an opportunity to get active outdoors” says Sheryl Farrar, Healthy Communities Program Manager at HPEPH. “These guidelines will help ensure that any community gardens operating in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties do so as safely as possible.” 

There are 18 community gardens in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties (HPEC), operated by both community organizations and local municipalities. Additional information about healthy eating, and finding food in HPEC, can be accessed at hpePublicHealth.ca.   

-30-

Back