Updated May 6, 2020
AHS Community Garden Recommendations
for COVID-19 Precautions
Provided by Alberta Health Services (AHS) as a Draft (not officially approved) – May 4, 2020
Enhanced environmental cleaning and social distancing measures are required to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. The following is a list of recommendations for community gardens to consider in developing action plans for managing risks to their communities.
- Develop or download signs advising users of all rules and changes in operation as well as COVID-19 signs and symptoms, isolation requirements, physical distancing, hand hygiene, etc.
- Resources for signage can be found here.
- Post rules and signage at all access gates and share via email and social media.
- Users should be advised to wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer before and after attending the site, and should wear gardening gloves while at the site.
- Users are required to physical distance and avoid close contact with others in the area.
- Prohibit anyone experiencing symptoms or required to be under isolation from attending the site.
Multiple Touch Items and Surfaces
- Identify all items and surfaces that may be touched by multiple users such as water tap, hose, hose nozzle, multi-use tools, gate, shed, wheelbarrow, etc.
- Develop a plan to clean and disinfect these items between uses, or remove them from use if cleaning and disinfection between uses is not possible.
- Multi-use tools should not be provided. Gardeners should bring their own tools. If this is not possible, tools should be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.
- Post signage on-site outlining cleaning and disinfection procedures.
- Hoses should be stretched out on side of path (not rolled) to expose them to the sun, and the first 4 feet should be disinfected before and after use along with the nozzle and water tap.
- Access to communal sheds should be prohibited where possible.
- A 1000 ppm (20 ml bleach in 1 L water) bleach solution should be used for disinfecting. Other approved disinfectants may also be used. See recommendations for environmental cleaning for more information.
- Ideally, a disinfecting solution and cleaning cloth should be provided onsite and checked and replaced at least daily. Gardeners should be directed to bring their own cleaning cloth and disinfecting solution if they cannot be provided on-site with procedures on how to mix a 1000 ppm bleach solution.
Promoting Physical Distancing
- Clearly designate each users space/plot.
- Restrict access to members only.
- One person, or at most 2 people from the same household should attend their plot at a time.
- Develop a schedule to prevent rush times and minimize use at any one time. The schedule should prevent users from attending adjacent plots at the same time.
- Consider ways to monitor compliance with developed rules (e.g., supervision, member reporting, etc.)
- Provide hand wash stations when possible. Supply stations with soap and paper towel
- Provide hand sanitizer at the community garden if possible. Store in a location accessible to members but safe from theft or adulteration.
- Encourage members to bring their own hand hygiene supplies, and clean gloves in addition to other measures
Community Gardens and covid-19:
- Currently, community gardens remain open for use for the 2020 growing season.
- The City is working on starting water systems at mid to end of May, weather pending.
- The City will also be supporting existing community gardens with the availability of additional soil and/or soil amendments such as compost.
- Interested communities should reach out 311 and ask for their Parks Community Strategist.
- Each community garden group is responsible to create an action plan for managing:
- physical and social distancing,
- the movement of people in/out of the gardens, and
- ensuring there is adherence to best practices for the cleaning of tools, surfaces, gates and/or garden boxes to protect public health.
Communication to Community Gardens Regarding the 2020 Gardening Season
As of now there is no action being taken, under the City’s COVID -19 pandemic response, to close community gardens. Calgary Parks will work to initiate the water systems for the community gardens near the middle to the end of May, weather pending. Additionally, this 2020 growing season, Calgary Parks will be supporting existing community gardens with the availability of additional soil and/or soil amendments such as compost.
Calgary Parks is looking for each community garden group to create an action plan for managing physical and social distancing, the movement of people in and out of the gardens and ensuring there is adherence to best practices for the cleaning of tools, surfaces, gates and garden boxes in order to protect public health.
Gardeners should follow the same practices as outlined for non-health care volunteers in the fact sheet COVID-19 Information: Information for Non-health Care Volunteers, Including the following points:
- Volunteers must follow all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, for their own protection and the protection of those they help.
- Volunteer organizations may have no more than 15 volunteers in one location.
- Where unavoidable, volunteers may work together at distances of less than 2 metres.
- Volunteer organizations must undertake actions to prevent the transmission of infection among employees, volunteers and the people they are helping.
Examples of how to reduce the risk of transmission include:
- Maintaining a two-metre separation between individuals wherever possible. For example, restricting the number of people in a space at any one time.
- Installing a sign encouraging the general public to stay away (if a fence or gate cannot be locked or does not exist).
- Eliminating or restructuring non-essential gatherings (e.g., meetings, training classes).
- Limiting the number of people in shared spaces or staggering break periods.
- Placement of reference markers in workspaces that set out two-metre distances.
- When consistently maintaining a distance of two metres between individuals is not possible, volunteer organizations should consider the use of non-medical masks, along with other appropriate steps to address the risk of transmission. If non-medical masks are worn, safe guidance for wearers should be followed.
It is important to remember some situations where volunteers (or gardeners) would normally play an important role, such as transporting sick or elderly people to appointments or other tasks that would put a volunteer in close contact with a sick person, must not continue. This is to limit the spread of infection to volunteers or potentially from volunteers to high-risk individuals.
Sick Volunteers (or gardeners)
Any volunteer (or gardener) with cold-like symptoms, including cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat, is required by law to isolate and may not participate in volunteer or workplace activities.
If a volunteer (or gardener) becomes symptomatic while on site at a volunteer location, they must immediately tell the person in charge of their activity and leave the site. If a mask or cloth face covering is available, they should put this on to reduce the chance of spread to others. Items they handled during that day should be cleaned and disinfected.
Symptomatic individuals must stay in isolation for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer. For more information visit: https://www.alberta.ca/isolation.aspx.
Hygiene and cleaning practices
- Proper hygiene and cleaning practices must be followed within the volunteer organization.
- Respiratory etiquette (e.g., coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow, promptly disposing of used tissues in the trash) must be followed.
- Volunteers must wash their hands frequently and use proper hand hygiene. This means using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of greater than 60%.
- Volunteer organizations must ensure that volunteers have sufficient means and supplies to perform frequent hand hygiene.
- Volunteer organizations must follow recommended cleaning procedures.
- Procedures for increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high traffic areas, common areas, public washrooms and showering facilities must be implemented.
- High-touch/shared surfaces must be frequently cleaned and disinfected. Do not share tools.
We encourage all Community Gardens to develop strategies to safely support volunteers and gardeners in the 2020 growing season. We also encourage communities to reach out to their Parks Community Strategist for more information or support.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at email@example.com
Use this link to download a Word version of this message.
Yard work, gardening and covid-19
A note from the City
When gardening outside, here are a few basic rules for physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Chat with your neighbours from a distance.
- Sharing bulbs/cuttings or other plants? Create a “sharing zone” where you can put plants. Leave them there for 24 hours before having your neighbour pick them up.
- Wash your hands before and after gardening, and touching shared items like garden hoses, tools, compost bins, etc.
- Have a set of basic tools for each person who gardens to reduce contamination:
- A hand trowel
- a pail or bucket and,
- a secateur or loppers.
- Disinfect/clean tools before and after use.
- Clean handles protect us from COVID-19,
- Clean blades protect plants from diseases.
- If you share a green space or yard (like a semi-detached house or townhouse), create zones in the garden.
- Give everyone at least six feet of space between each other, and assign parts of the yard or garden to each person.
- One person/family can mow the lawn while the other remains inside, one person/family can care for trees while another tends flower beds on separate days, etc.
- To help with distancing and encourage enjoying outdoors, you can set up new spaces where people can sit and be safely distanced.
- Stay connected through technology. Many local gardening experts and businesses are holding online training events, garden tours, and much more.
Check back regularly for updates.
Update from the City of Red Deer. To read about their modified Community Garden Plot Program, visit the City of Red News Room.
See Frequently Asked Questions for the current conversation.
Our mission is: “To strengthen and promote community gardening in Calgary by creating a network of resources, expertise and collaborative connections.”
We provide start-up assistance for new gardens and ongoing support for established gardens. When we started 17 years ago, there were less than 11 groups considering gardening and now there are more than 200 community gardens on public and private land.
Community Gardens is currently funded and supported by The City of Calgary Parks Division and TD Friends of the Environment as well as from donations from people like you. If you or your corporation would like to support our work with community gardens, please contact us today.
There is so much going on in gardening in Calgary. Join us!
The Society includes a segment for community gardens in their weekly e-news, Gardener’s Corner. If you like to be added to the mailing list, please join.
Benefits of a Community Garden
Here are some of the more commonly discussed benefits that we hear, including:
- Fresh, pesticide-free produce
- Meeting neighbors
- Connecting children to nature
- Affordably supplementing meals/nutrition
- Adding beauty, inspiration and serenity to the neighbourhood
- Increasing community pride
- Contributing to a healthy ecosystem
- Encouraging local biodiversity
- Improving neighborhood safety and security
- Reducing food transportation distances
- Improving urban air quality
- Filtering noise
- Assisting storm water runoff absorption
- Reducing personal use of the earth’s resources
- Informal knowledge sharing and hands-on learning by doing
- Reducing personal stress
- Participating in outdoor physical activity
- Re-entry activity during rehabilitation
- Opportunities to barter and share seeds, garden care, produce, stories and recipes
- Creating a community hub that welcomes people of all ages, ability or life experience.
As you can see, there are many reasons to start a community garden. The key to a successful garden is understanding what everyone wants to get out of their experience.