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 on 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 6 feet (2 m.) 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 6 foot (2 m.) rule, and stay home if ill or at risk.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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