Will the Covid-19 pandemic close community gardens on City of Calgary lands?

The City’s reply to S. Phillips’s enquiry (posted on March 30, 2020).

Great to hear from you. Good questions about community gardens. So far there are no closures of community gardens on the CA lands.

According to our Calgary Parks, Park Water Management will still be working towards activating all of the community garden sites by the May long weekend. Garden groups should encourage their members to practice suitable social distancing in order to start prepping their individual gardens. Group garden bed preparations or planting events should be avoided.

I advise that you’re able to continue taking rental payments for beds. Posting signs at the garden site about safety and social distancing, as well as informing your renters that group bed preparations/planting events should not occur. Additionally, it may be beneficial to let renters know that policies regarding community garden during this unusual time may change over time, and to please be patient and stay posted as we navigate new ground together.

Will Community Gardens be able to operate?

Posted April 2, 2020

The guidance we are receiving right now from our City Neighbourhood Partnership Coordinator is they can if the risk mitigation strategies are followed:

Risk mitigation strategies

All gatherings that are proceeding because they don’t meet the restriction criteria, including weddings and funerals with less than 15 people (this number is subject to changes, check alberta.ca and calgary.ca for the most current information), should follow these general risk mitigation strategies:

  • people who are sick with a fever or cough must not attend (even if symptoms appear to be mild or resemble a cold)
  • recommend anyone at high risk of severe disease not attend the event
  • reduce the number of participants or change the venue to allow for physical distancing
  • stagger the time of arrivals and departures
  • provide packaged refreshments instead of a buffet
  • increase access to handwashing stations or alcohol-based sanitizer
  • frequently clean surfaces that are touched often
  • promote personal protective practices (hygiene etiquette, staying home if ill)
  • offer virtual or live-streamed activities instead of in-person events
  • change the event program to remove activities that increase the risk of disease transmission, such as those that require physical contact between participants

How many community gardens are there in Calgary?

There are 87 public community gardens, 82 private community gardens (total 169) of all styles within the Calgary city limits as of July 4, 2016.

What is a community garden?

It is any group of people who come together to garden. People of all ages who are new or experienced gardeners are warmly welcomed. Community gardens come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be large or small, on the ground or on rooftops, in raised bed plots, in containers or a mixture of all of these. Gardeners can have their own individual plot within the community garden and can also join with others to grow some crops together as a team, sharing in the work and the harvest. Every community garden is unique and develops from what the gardeners decide.

Where is the City of Calgary’s Community Garden Application form?


How long does it take to start a community garden?

In general, if you start in the fall, you’re likely to have an operational garden by the following spring. There are some exceptions; with the right group of people championing the project, we’ve seen a few community gardens come together in little as a few weeks. By the same token, some gardens need about a year to address local challenges. It all depends on whether there is local support for a community garden, what kind of land approval is needed and how much time is required to write grant proposals and fundraise for the garden.

What can you grow in a community garden?

You can grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and annual or perennial flowers. Often the beautification gardens are communal and may have a particular focus such as a butterfly garden, a bird garden, a woodland garden or a native plant garden. Most gardens have an area reserved for growing vegetables to be given away as a gift to charitable organizations feeding people who do not have enough food.

What does it cost to join a community garden in Calgary?

Every garden is different. Rental rates in 2015 range from $10 to $75 depending on the size of the garden bed. Some have a refundable deposit that is returned to the gardener if the garden plot is maintained and cleaned up by a specific date at the end of the growing season. Many gardens are on city-owned public land and you must be a member of the local community association in order to garden there and be covered under the community association liability insurance.

Who gets involved in community gardens?

People of all ages, cultures and gardening experience are welcome to be part of community gardens.

Why do people join a community garden?

Some of the reasons are: to grow flavorful, fresh, organic, chemical-free food, to connect with nature, for recreation, to save money on groceries, to improve the urban environment (water runoff, noise, heat, air, soil and wildlife ecology), to practice sustainable living, to improve neighbourhood security, for mental and physical wellness and to create a friendlier community, to name just a few.

Does Calgary have allotment gardens?

Not at this time. Allotment garden plots are usually larger than community plots and there is a fee to rent a plot. In allotment gardens there is no garden leadership team and no social activities. They are usually located away from city neighbourhoods. Community garden plots, while smaller in size, are in neighbourhoods and all decisions concerning the garden are made by the gardeners themselves.

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