Point Edward, ON – The province of Ontario recently announced new and amended emergency orders that will permit the use of allotment and community gardens. The provincial announcement stated: “These gardens are an essential source of fresh food for some individuals and families, including those who face food insecurity. Local medical officers of health will provide advice, recommendation and instructions that the gardens must meet in order to operate, such as physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly used equipment and surfaces.”
There are many community gardens in Lambton County. Some are operated by community organizations or churches, and many are operated on municipal property such as parks or other available green space and may be known as “allotment gardens”. Community gardens can provide fresh produce at low or no cost in the summer months and are considered an important component of a healthy community food system.
Dr. Sudit Ranade, Medical Officer of Health for Lambton County has confirmed that community and allotment gardens may operate in Lambton County as long as they follow a set of guidelines designed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 (detailed requirements attached – see Fact Sheet).
Any person that uses community gardens must do so in accordance with the following requirements:
Entrance Restrictions: Prohibit access to anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or has had close contact with a confirmed case. Restrict access to registered members, staff, and volunteers. Non-members and visitors should not be permitted to enter.
Maintain Physical Distancing: Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from other people except for members of the same household. Groups of people at a site limited to 5 or less.
Ensure Good Hand Hygiene: If hands are visibly soiled, handwashing with soap and water is preferred. Where possible, provide by providing handwashing stations in the gardens. Perform hand hygiene before entering and upon leaving the garden.
Avoid Sharing Gloves and Tools: Bring your own gloves and tools and do not return gloves to any shared storage.
Bring Disinfectant Supplies: Use water, soap, hand sanitizer and towels to clean frequently touched surfaces.
Signage: Place clear, visible signage throughout the garden — especially locations where shared equipment, tools, etc. are located — reminding registered members, staff and volunteers of the requirements that must be followed when using the garden to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
Communication: Recommend gardens develop and communicate COVID-19 policies/protocols. Consider using a sign-in and sign-out system to track users accessing the garden each day. This may assist with communication and close-contact tracing if required, etc.
Lambton Public Health acknowledges that municipalities and others who permit community gardens on public or private property may have additional requirements.
Information related to community gardens and other COVID-19 updates can be accessed at LambtonPublicHealth.ca.
Lambton Public Health