How Does Your Community Garden Grow?

Peterborough Public Health helps community gardens open amidst pandemic

Peterborough will soon be opening its many community garden plots that grow food and flowers for local residents.

The Ontario government announced April 25 that community gardens are an essential service and can open during the current state of emergency in the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are happy to announce that community gardens are now permitted to open, provided that they follow public health requirements to keep everyone safe,” says Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Peterborough’s medical officer of health, in a news release.

“We look forward to supporting local community garden co-ordinators as they prepare for the growing season.”

Following the provincial announcement, Peterborough Public Health released a document outlining the requirements, along with an action plan template that gardens can use to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

These requirements include cleaning and disinfecting commonly-used equipment and surfaces.

Physical distancing must be practised, said Dr. Salvaterra. A maximum of five gardeners are permitted at any given time and gardeners will need to stay two metres apart from people who don’t live in their household.

Community gardens will also be required to post signs to remind gardeners to stay home if they are sick, to wash and sanitize their hands properly and to practise physical distancing.

All gardeners are also required to review the Recommendations and Instructions for Safe Community Gardening and COVID-19 Prevention before returning to garden.

All resources are available on the public health department’s website.

Dr. Salvaterra noted that some gardens may take more time to open than others, and that all garden members and co-ordinators will need to continue to work together to help keep community gardens safe.

There are many benefits of being involved in community gardening for both individuals and the community.

“Eating healthy, fresh food is great but getting outside, exercising and getting more fresh air — people identify that’s good for them both physically and mentally,” Jill Bishop, community food cultivator for Nourish, earlier told Electric City Magazine.

Community gardens typically bring people together and help ease isolation and promote emotional well-being, she noted.

There are more than 45 community gardens in the city and the county of Peterborough.

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