Updates on Community Gardens as Essential Food Services

At Just Food – April 7 2020

Updates on Community Gardens as Essential Food Services

Thank you! – many of you have written last week to support Community Gardens Must Remain OPEN as Essential Food Services in Ontario, and have signed onto this Open Letter from Sustain Ontario. Just Food’s Moe Garahan was interviewed on CBC News – Declare community gardens essential, non-profit urges.

We all take safety and physical distancing seriously, to stop the spread of COVID-19. And, this can still be done while allowing thousands of people to grow food in community gardens as most rely on that food to feed their families and other community members.

Breaking news from Gatineau! “For the 2020 season, the City of Gatineau is supporting 22 community and collective gardens, 3 more than last year. The current context requires specific measures to comply with the guidelines for physical distance and the use of common equipment. The committees responsible for the sites, together with the City, are to set up the procedures required for the opening of the sites as soon as possible.” This is a Google translation of the relevant French document, read the original message on La Ville de Gatineau website HERE.

Last week, the provincial government in BC reversed an earlier decision and now has made Community Gardens essential services. BC government recognizes in this LINK that community gardens are a way of subsistence agriculture as it is food cultivation.

Similarly, last Thursday, Victoria BC passed a motion for Scaling Up Growing in the City for Community Resilience, in response to food security, which will temporarily reprioritize the focus of some Parks Department capacity to grow 50,000-75,000 food plants from seed in the municipal nursery and greenhouses for planting in the 2020 growing season.  Read this story HERE.

Updates from CGN and Just Food

We at CGN and Just Food have received many emails and understand your difficulty to make decisions on how to proceed with your community garden and its many members. We hear you!

Just Food is working very hard to….

  • Advocate an informed decision and reversal to make community gardens essential food services, so they can continue to operate this year. Across Ontario and across parties, many MPPs are working on this, as are many of our City Councillors.
  • Co-facilitate the Ontario Community Growing Network to develop safety measures and best practices for COVID-19 for community and allotment gardens across Ontario, based on public health input, so as to best coordinate and build on each other’s efforts.  This will be sent to the Ministry of Health next Tuesday to assist them in reversing the decision on community gardens while ensuring individual and public safety. Ottawa Public Health has agreed to work with Just Food to further develop these safety practices for the Ottawa context once the province gives the go-ahead.
  • Communicate with community gardens in a timely fashion – there will be more newsletters than usual on the progress.
  • Get ready for the growing season so we are ready to go as soon as we are able. This includes finalizing a COVID-19 specific garden agreement that every garden coordinator, and every community garden member, will need to sign in order to access their plot, outlining they understand the new procedures for this year and will abide by them.    

Next newsletter coming this week to all gardeners in Ottawa will be all about online garden workshop dates and topics.

Start-up Farm Program

Just Food established the Start-Up Farm Program to support new farmers in the Ottawa region. By offering access to land, shared infrastructure/equipment, and training, the program aims to enable more people in this region to start their own successful farm business.

> Read More about Just Food’s Start-up Farm program