Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

COVID-19 Updates News
Ontario declares community gardens an essential service


April 29, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

The Ontario government amended some emergency orders on April 25, allowing the use of allotment gardens and community gardens across the province.

The province stated that 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.

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Last month at the beginning of the province’s emergency order, Sustain Ontario, a non-profit working on food and agriculture issues in southern Ontario, published an open letter calling on the province to identify community gardens as an essential food service.

“Tens of thousands of families rely on community gardens to produce food for their families each year. There has been a marked increase in demand for this service since the beginning of COVID-19 across Ontario. People throughout the province have already invested in their seeds, and started seedlings, for this growing season. Land is being negotiated to actually strengthen community gardening availability in many communities across Canada, not limit it,” the letter read.

In response to Ontario’s amendment for community gardens, Sustain Ontario extended its appreciation to everyone who advocated for gardens to open.

“We’d like to send a huge thanks and congratulations to everyone who advocated for this, signed and shared the petition, sent letters in to MPPs, interviewed for articles through your local papers and shared information about this important issue,” said the co-chairs of the Ontario Community Growing Network, a working group of Sustain Ontario. “This work highlighted the importance of community gardening as an essential food service in Ontario.”

In order to re-open, according to Sustain Ontario, each community garden will need approval locally from their public health department. Municipal health boards will determine safety protocols with each garden – but no date is required.