Advocates send province safety guidelines in push to get community gardens opened

By Lily Lamberink, CBC News, April 20, 2020

A group of healthy food and farming advocates have sent the province a list of safety recommendations for community gardens, in a push to have the spaces declared essential amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario lumped community gardens in with other "recreational amenities" that were closed March 30 to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness. But now, more than ever, is when community gardens are needed, said Moe Garahan, the co-chair of Sustain Ontario's Community Growing Network.

"Food insecurity was already at unacceptable levels in our country, before COVID-19. Households use community gardens to supplement their food supply during the growing season, and many participate in preservation techniques to continue that harvest into the winter season," said Garahan.

Garahan said there's no province-wide data about who uses community gardens, but said a minimum of 7,000 people use them as a source of food in Ottawa. Ben Hill, chairperson of the Middlesex London Food Policy Council, told CBC News there are 464 community garden plots in London and 65 per cent of people who responded to a survey last year said access to healthy food was their primary reason for using them.

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