Ottawa Food Garden Project

On World Hunger Day, City of Ottawa announces support for more people to start food gardens at their homes   

On May 27th, Ottawa City Council voted to support household food gardens.  Councillor Theresa Kavanagh’s motion, The Ottawa Food Garden Project, an initiative that supports household food production, unanimously passed at City Council yesterday. This initiative will enable residents to request free soil and seeds to create or enhance their own home food garden. 

The motion, seconded by rural Councillor George Darouze, requests that the City’s Human Needs Task Force (HNTF) work with Just Food to identify solutions for funding and immediate human resource and volunteer solutions required to support the project. 

The Ottawa Food Garden Project is a food security initiative that also encourages residents to get active at home during the COVID-19 emergency. This citywide initiative, in partnership with HNTF and Just Food, will help to support residents in growing their own gardens in response to COVID-19.

Councillor Kavanagh noted, “With this motion passing, we will be able to partner with social service agencies and reach a lot more families struggling with lower incomes right now than we ever could with the current resources at Just Food.”

Councillor Darouze highlights that “COVID-19 has led to significant increased food and income insecurity in Ottawa. The demand for community food production has also increased.”

The City of Ottawa currently funds and partners with Just Food on their Community Gardening Network and Community Garden Development Fund to enhance the capacity of community food production in Ottawa. The demand by households in Ottawa for assistance to garden has surpassed the capacity of Just Food staff and volunteers to respond in a timely fashion, given the short growing season and need for planting to happen in the next few weeks.

Just Food has confirmed the purchase of $5,000 worth of seeds for distribution to Ottawa families with the goal of serving a minimum of 3000 families.  Greely Sand and Gravel, who are also partners to the project, have committed to a significant donation of soil.   “We are proud to build upon our longstanding community gardening partnerships throughout Ottawa and support this project to ensure families have what they need to get started”, says Brent Pyper, owner of Greely Sand and Gravel.

“Supporting community food production mitigates the pressure on emergency food distribution channels and builds long-term food security and community resiliency”, says Just Food Executive Director Moe Garahan. The Ottawa Food Policy Council is supportive of the City of Ottawa providing increased COVID-19 emergency support for household food production. 

Councillor Kavanagh thanks Just Food, The City of Ottawa Human Needs Task Force, her colleague Councillor George Derouze and Greely Sand and Gravel company for their cooperation in getting this project going in a timely manner.

More information will be available on the JustFood.ca website within the week as to how to get involved.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Councillor Theresa Kavanagh – BayWard@ottawa.ca
Councillor George Darouze – George.Darouze@ottawa.ca
Just Food Executive Director Moe Garahan – moe@justfood.ca

SeedLing Saturday (May 23 – Some Spots Still Available) 

Just Food is hosting a SeedLing Saturday this weekend at the Just Food Farm! Seedlings and seeds will be for sale.

Includes pre-order and pick-up sales as well as on-site sale options.

WHEN: Saturday, May 23 4 time slots to choose from
10am- SOLD OUT
11am – SOLD OUT
12pm – Some spots still available
1pm – Some spots still available
WHERE: Just Food Farm, 2391 Pepin Court
RSVP: is a must!

*In order to maintain physical distancing we will only be allowing 60 people on-site at a time. More COVID-19 guidelines below.

To register, please click on the time slot you would like to attend, noting that seedlings will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. (We will email later registrants if seedlings are sold out).

 11am12pm1pm

Register now before the time slots fill up. (Please note – if you are only ordering online to pick-up, you don’t need to register, but you need to pick up between 10am-12 noon.)

Acceptable payment methods include online pre-payment, tap payment on-site and cash.

Online Pre-ordering Information

To pre-order seedlings online, please see the following vendors:

Vendors Selling On-site

  • Nanabush Food Forest: food forest plant exchange
  • Get Up & Grow! On pousse!: tomatoes
  • The Chi Garden
  • Flat Earth Farm
  • And more!

COVID19 related Health Guidelines 

The COVID-19 regulations set out by Ottawa Public Health will be in effect for all customers, including physical distancing. Please see further health guidelines below:

  • Tables will be spaced and limited in number to avoid overcrowding, with people asked to maintain 6 feet from each other at all times.
  • One-way traffic for both cars into and off the property, as well as one-way traffic for customers around the tables.
  • Separate pick-up-only area for pick-up orders, with tables spaced apart from each other.
  • Limited conversation time to maintain flow – people are encouraged to get in and out efficiently.
  • No touching the plants unless purchased. Only looking at what is on the table to keep distancing in mind.

Indigenous Voices on Food Security

The COVID-19 global pandemic has worsened the existing food security problems among many communities, including Indigenous communities.

Federally-funded emergency food supports are being used to tackle the food challenges brought on by the closure of borders, rise of unemployment, and food hoarding. However, these supports are inadequate for Indigenous communities including Indigenous community members living in Ottawa. 

To read more, please check out Elisa Levi and Tabitha Robin’s COVID-19 Did Not Cause Food Insecurity In Indigenous Communities But It Will Make It Worse published by Yellowhead Institute.  

BREAKING NEWS – Community Gardens are Open in Ontario

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your efforts to make this happen! 

Community Gardens Are Opened in Ontario!

The Ontario Government announced this morning that it is amending an emergency order to help ensure food security during the pandemic, which will:

“Permit the use of allotment gardens and community gardens across the province. 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.”

See this announcement HERE.

Congratulations to everyone in our community who wrote a letter, signed a petition, took part in articles and shared information through your contacts.  You helped identify the importance of growing food at the household level and the importance of community food gardening available everywhere (on balconies, yards, raised beds and community gardens).  You showed the positive ways we can work together with government at all levels as partners serving community interests.    

What’s Next?

Please note that community garden re-opening will need approval locally from Public Health. In Ottawa, community gardens will need to get this approval through Just Food, the partner with City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health to support gardens throughout the city.  Just Food is finalizing garden safety protocols with Ottawa Public Health, and we will be in touch with all garden coordinators this coming week with an online webinar to get started. You will hear from Sun Shan (Community Gardening Network Coordinator) and Morgan (summer student focused on community gardens) from Just Food re. getting your garden set up with the necessary protocols in place in order to get permission for gardens opening.  We will also cover if coordinators or gardeners do not want to garden or coordinate this year, which is up to each person, and how that will work, depending on where your garden is located.

Happy Earth Day! Celebrate by Growing Your Own Food

Gardening News, Webinars, Seeds, Garden Guides and More
Brought to You By Just Food

Being able to find, get, grow, cook and buy food have all become top priorities for everyone, if they weren’t already so. For thousands, access to seed and land have been critical questions over the past week.

The best way the whole Just Food team can think of to celebrate this 50th anniversary of Earth Day is to ensure that everyone in Ottawa, who wants to, has a way to grow food to feed family, friends and the broader community.

We’re here to help you with this, before, during and after COVID19.
Here’s to Good Food For All. 

____

A reminder to please share these sites throughout all of your networks as
quickly as possible to ensure everyone has updated information on
where to find food: 

www.goodfoodottawa.ca

www.bonnebouffe.ca

____

Table of Contents


Community Gardening News for Ottawa and Ontario

1. BREAKING NEWS on Gardening in Ontario – April 20

2. MORE BREAKING NEWS on Motion from Ottawa Board of Health – April 20

Grow Your Own Food

3. May 23 | Announcing Just Food’s First SeedLing Saturday

4. Garden Guides Available in English and French and Announcing New Guides in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin

5. Request Seeds from the Ottawa Seed Library | Email seeds@justfood.ca

6. New Kids Gardening Project! 

7. FREE Online Gardening Workshops | Get a Head Start on your Growing Season including Seed Starting – Watch at Any Point 

Live Gardening Webinars

(Good for Getting Your Questions Answered)

8. Apr 22, 27 and May 2 | Basic Organic Gardening (English, Français)

9. Apr 25 & 29 | Seed Saving Up Above – Garden Planning Considerations

10. Apr 26 | Outdoor Compost and Ways for Soil Building

11. May 6 & 9 | Herbalism Workshop – Herbs to Grow and Weeds to Keep

Backyard Chickens

While we know that the City of Ottawa does not allow backyard chickens at present, we also know that hundreds of people are successfully doing so already, thanks to agreement from their neighbours, as Bylaw enforcement is based on a complaint system. We also know that stocks of starter chicks have depleted so it will be difficult for those who haven’t started to start this season, however, given the priority of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs along with the Poultry Industry Council to present the following instructional video, we want to share this for those of you who can use it.

12. Apr 29 | Raising Backyard Chickens Workshop by Poultry Industry Council 

Newsletter Content


1. BREAKING NEWS on Gardening in Ontario – April 20 

Multiple offices have been meeting over the past week (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Premier’s Office), are giving “serious consideration” to the issue and are “making good progress towards an exemption for community gardens”. 

We requested an announcement this week that all food providing gardens (community gardens, allotments, apartment gardens, etc) are deemed essential food services, with the request that gardens can open at the end of this current emergency period – May 12 at the latest. This allows for flattening the curve on the incidence of COVID cases, and for time for gardens to organize health and safety protocols to ensure individual and public safety.

The Premier’s Office made special note of the efforts that went into developing the recommendations and found these very helpful. (Thanks to everyone that fed into this!!). We also heard that contacting your MPPs and media coverage really had an impact and emphasized the importance of food-producing gardens.

So while there’s no confirmation yet, it seems to be heading in the right direction, and we are hopeful to hear something more definitive soon.

2. MORE BREAKING NEWS on Motion from Ottawa Board of Health – April 20 

A motion put forward by Chair Egli passed unanimously on April 20 for the Board of Health of the City of Ottawa to direct the Chair of the Board of Health to write a letter to the Premier of Ontario and to the Ontario Minister of Health to exempt outdoor allotment gardens and community gardens from the closure of outdoor recreational amenities.

This would apply in gardens where public health measures can be implemented to support their safe operation to prevent the spread of COVID19. Please see the proposed regulations here.


3. May 23 | Announcing Just Food’s First SeedLing Saturday 

Buy food seedlings from local farmers for your own home gardens. 

WHEN: Saturday, May 23
Times slots you will be able to register for: 10am, 11:30am, 1pm
WHERE: Just Food Farm, 2391 Pepin Court, Gloucester, ON (Blackburn Hamlet)
PAYMENT: Free entrance.
Debit, credit, e-transfer and cash will all be accepted.
For some farmers, an option to pay online and pick-up will also be available.
RSVP: Links to register will be sent in the next Just Food newsletter.

Physical distancing will be set up. There will be three time periods for people to register to encourage physical distancing, and the transplant inventory will be divided equally into those three time periods to ensure better access throughout the day. Stay tuned for more information in the next newsletter.

4. Garden Guides Available in English and French and Announcing New Guides in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin 

The Community Gardening Network of Ottawa brings you an easy beginner guide on the basics of growing food in the Ottawa region. This guide covers the basics from soil and composting to plant profiles and planting calendars, all presented in a way that is fun to follow and easy to learn.

The guide is now available in 5 languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin. To view the Garden Guide, click here. Veuillez cliquez ici pour les guides de jardinage. And a big thank you to Ottawa Public Health for paying for the new translations.

5. Request Seeds from the Ottawa Seed Library | Email seeds@justfood.ca 

Just Food is announcing an enhanced project this year through our Ottawa Seed Library for those looking to have access to seed.  

We have packages of seeds to suit different sized growing spaces.  If you have not been able to get seed, you may be put in a request by emailing seeds@justfood.ca your location in the city, experience level in growing (first time, beginner, intermediate, growing for years), and size of your growing space (balcony? raised bed? small yard? what dimensions?).

A team of volunteers is working hard to package up seeds to suit different food garden sizes. We will be distributing as long as supplies last, with the request that anyone accessing seeds watch the videos that will be available on seed saving and save seed for your family for future years, hopefully also giving some back to the library for others.

A quick note that you can still buy seeds from these Ottawa-based seed companies: 
Bird and Bee: https://www.birdandbee.ca/
Gaia Organics: https://www.gaiaorganics.ca/
Greta’s Organic Gardens: https://www.seeds-organic.com/

6. New Kids Gardening Project! 

Ottawa Carleton District School Board and Just Food are pleased to announce for Earth Day the Kids’ Garden Project for 1000+ families. The focus is on kids learning how to grow their own fresh food, even in very small areas and containers, and to save seed for upcoming years.

Families who are struggling with income and other barriers are being chosen through their schools for the full program, which includes receiving seed and soil in May, and instructions over the growing season. Kids will be able to ask questions each week through email and other media, and get answers from local farmers at the Ottawa Farm School at Just Food Farm.

In addition, all kids in Ottawa who have access to their own seed will be able to watch the videos posted, and get their questions answered on growing their own food. 

7. FREE Online Gardening Workshops | Get a Head Start on your Growing Season including Starting Seeds – Watch at any Point

We have been posting free, pre-recorded workshops to learn the gardening basics from instructors who are experienced. There are three workshops currently available with more workshops coming soon:

  1. Urban Organic Vegetable and Herb Gardening – Container and Small Space Gardening
  2. Indoor Seed Starting
  3. NEW! Grow Vegetables and Herbs in Your Backyard, Front yard or Community Garden plot

Please stay tuned to the page Gardening Workshops on the Just Food website to view more free gardening workshops as they become available. 

Gardening Workshops

These online workshops are produced by Community Gardening Network at Just Food, in partnership with community partners and garden instructors.


Live Gardening Webinars

Please note: All of our 2020 Gardening Workshops will be online until further notice. Our goal is to enable as many gardeners as possible to grow food successfully in our region. All facilitators are experienced gardeners who have teaching experience and understand growing conditions in our region.

8. Apr 22, 27 and May 2 | Basic Organic Gardening 

Interested in organic gardening but don’t know where to start? This workshop is great for any gardener wishing to brush up on their gardening theory before the season. Whether you have never gardened before or hoping to boost your confidence in your abilities, you are sure to learn something at this workshop. 

Two identical sessions and one French session:

April 22

WHEN: Wednesday, April 22 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register for April 22

Le 27 avril

QUAND: lundi 27 avril à 19:00
OÙ: En ligne (Zoom – les participants peuvent avoir l’accès gratuit en utilisant un ordinateur ou un téléphone via l’internet, or par télécharger l’app Zoom)
PRIX: 5 $ par personne
(Si le paiement c’est un problème, cliquez ce lien pour demander de participer gratuitement)
REGISTRER: Veuillez registrer ici pour le 27 avril

May 2

WHEN: Saturday, May 2 at 2pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)   
RSVP: Click here to register for May 2

This workshop focuses on growing common variety vegetables in the Ottawa region in various settings – your living room, small space and yards – without the use of pesticides or herbicides.

9. Apr 25 & 29 | Seed Saving Up Above – Garden Planning Considerations 

Just Food, in partnership with Gaia Organic Seed, brings this workshop just in time when you are starting and planning your garden this year. This workshop will equip you with the necessary skills to harvest your own seeds successfully for growing in the next years to come.

April 25

WHEN: Saturday, April 25 at 2pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register

April 29

WHEN: Wednesday, April 29 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register

This workshop focuses on what you need to know to be able to harvest seeds from your own garden plot or pot. Plants naturally go to seed, but to grow vegetables for seeds, there are basic principles to follow and techniques to use.

10. Apr 26 | Outdoor Compost and Ways for Soil Building 

Good soil is the basis for good gardening. Compost is the most important nutrient to give to your garden, especially in. It’s also free and easy to make in your own home when you know how. Composting is an environmentally-friendly way to ‘up-cycle’ your kitchen waste and yard waste.

WHEN: Sunday, April 26 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register

This workshop will teach the various ways of making compost, and how to use this ‘black gold’ to build healthy soil for your gardening success. Whether you are new to gardening or want to learn more about composting design for your garden, to ask questions.

11. May 6 & 9 | Herbalism Workshop – Herbs to Grow and Weeds to Keep 

Just Food, in partnership with Amber Westfall of the Wild Garden, presents this workshop on herbalism! Do not miss this inspiring session with Amber that may just elevate your relationship with your garden plants to a new level.

May 6

WHEN: Wednesday, May 6 at 6:30pm
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)
RSVP: Click here to register

May 9

WHEN: Saturday, May 9 at 2pm
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)
RSVP: Click here to register

Learn about adding good and healing herbs into your gardening project and how to meet those ‘weeds’ that might be worth keeping!


12. Apr 29 | Raising Backyard Chickens Workshop by Poultry Industry Council 

WHEN: Wednesday, April 29 at 10am
WHERE: Online 
COST: $35 per person
RSVP: Click here to register

MORE BREAKING NEWS on Motion from Ottawa Board of Health on Community Gardens – April 20

Part of motion from Ottawa Board of Health meeting April 20, 2020 put forward by Chair Egli:

Whereas Ottawa Public Health believes… that allotment and community gardens are also an important measure to increase food security for many residents…….be it resolved that the Board of Health of the City of Ottawa direct the Chair of the Board of Health to write a letter to the Premier of Ontario and to the Ontario Minister of Health… to exempt outdoor allotment gardens and community gardens from the closure of outdoor recreational amenities in jurisdictions where public health measures can be implemented to support their safe operation to prevent the spread of COVID19.

Passed unanimously.

BREAKING NEWS on Community Gardening in Ontario – April 20

Please see update from meeting with Premier April 20, 2020:

Multiple offices have been meeting over the past week (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Premier’s Office), are giving “serious consideration” to the issue and are “making good progress towards an exemption for community gardens”.

We requested an announcement this week that all food providing gardens (community gardens, allotments, apartment gardens, etc) are deemed essential food services, with the request that gardens can open at the end of this current emergency period – May 12 at the latest. This allows for flattening the curve on the incidence of COVID cases, and for time for gardens to organize health and safety protocols to ensure individual and public safety.

We provided them with the list of examples across Canada and beyond – see below. Please let us know any other articles you come across.

The Premier’s Office made special note of the efforts that went into developing the recommendations and found these very helpful.  (Thanks to everyone that fed into this!!). We also heard that contacting your MPPs and media coverage really had an impact and emphasized the importance of food producing gardens.  Statements of support from Mayors and Boards of Health help advance the issue too.

So while there’s no confirmation yet, it seems to be heading in the right direction, and we are hopeful to hear something more definitive soon.

The same post is also on Sustain Ontario.

Update on Community Gardens Opening in Ontario

Local public health officials from across Ontario are reviewing the following recommendations for gardening during COVID-19 brought forward by the Ontario Community Growing Network and the Cross-Canada Food Communities Network.


COVID-19 Recommendations for Community Gardens
Finalized by Ottawa Community Growing Network
And the Food Communities Network – across Canada 

April 14, 2020  

Background

Community garden organizers recognize the grave, unprecedented challenge that the COVID-19 virus presents. Extreme containment measures are needed to stop the spread of the virus and protect many lives.  Within this, food production is an essential service for all, including many low-income people and people from equity-seeking groups (By equity-seeking groups we mean: Black, Indigenous, people of colour, people with low incomes, LGBTQ2S+ people, people with disabilities and newcomers).  Community gardens must continue to grow produce to supplement household food security, in particular for those who struggle to access food, including fresh food. 

This document was developed in consultation with community garden coordinators across North America and with information from local and national public health authorities. It outlines proposed standards to be followed, as well as suggestions on how to implement them, recognizing that due to the diversity of existing gardens (such as size, governance, location, equipment needs and language) some of these suggestions will be modified to work in each garden, while meeting the overall required standard for health and safety.

Safety Protocols Work

The recommendation is that community gardens must follow these minimum standards to begin the garden season while following public health guidelines for containing the spread of COVID-19. 

Following these guidelines will be additional work for garden coordinators and committees at a busy time of year. Consider asking other garden members to help take on organizing and monitoring tasks.

If a garden does not have the capacity to follow the guidelines for whatever reasons, it must not open until emergency measures have been lifted or until your garden can set up these safety protocols.   

We all need to keep safety a #1 concern.  

  • Before opening, each garden must commit to the following health and safety protocols and must communicate these protocols to all garden members. 
  • Gardens are to be accessed by registered garden members only (as well as official staff/volunteers designated to gardens) and only for maintenance and planting, not for programming.  Suspend all programming (including events, children’s programming, training and group builds).
  • Gardens must be closed to the public. (For gardens without lockable fences, posted signs notifying that it is closed to the public must be up). 
  • All gardens must follow the basic personal guidelines for controlling the spread of COVID-19, which are:
    • Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or has been exposed to the virus must stay at home for 14 days. 
    • Everyone in the garden must maintain physical distancing of 6 feet/2 metres at all times (unless gardening with members of the same household).
    • Use sanitary practices recommended by public health. 
    • Anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or who has come into contact with someone who has shown symptoms should not come to the garden.  (Something like this document can be sent out to all gardeners to refer to re self-screening: https://bcfoodsecuritygateway.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/04/Health-Questionaire-Covid-19-AgSafe.pdf
    • Anyone displaying symptoms should be given public health contact information and asked to leave.
    • People may be infected with COVID-19 and not show symptoms immediately. Even if gardeners appear to be healthy and have had no contact with someone who is at risk, it is still absolutely essential to follow physical distancing and sanitation practices.
  • Enforcement:  Due to the severity of the circumstances, if garden members do not understand the guidelines, they must leave immediately for the day, with a reminder of the protocols.  If a gardener continues to disregard the guidelines that gardener will be banned from the garden, and their plots will be reallocated.  Garden members may also be fined by bylaw enforcement officers for infractions of emergency measures (such as not maintaining physical distancing).   This is an unusual approach for community gardens and is a process for this unusual time only, however the need to contain the spread of the COVID virus must be our main focus at this time.
  • All garden members who will be active in 2020 must sign an agreement to abide by COVID-19 measures and acknowledge they will be asked to leave and/or lose their plots if they do not.  (This agreement should be ready in languages used in the garden). 
    • It is important to update your list of current garden members and track who has signed off on COVID guidelines. 
    • Consider using gate lock with changeable code. Give access only to gardeners who have signed the agreement. Change the code on a regular basis.     
    • Consider ways of tracking who is in the garden on any particular day for assistance with communication, tracing contact, etc. 

Further recommended solutions that can be customized to work within each garden to meet the above requirements are below.

Physical Distancing

  • Unless gardening with members of the same household, maintain a distance of at least 2 metres/6 feet from other people at all times.
    • Pay particular attention to high-traffic areas in the garden, such as sheds or water fixtures. These are good places to have physical distancing reminders posted in the languages used in your garden.
    • Have physical reminders in the garden of what 2 metres looks like, such as a couple of swim noodles or sticks, or lay tape/markers to show the intervals.
    • If your garden normally sets up places for people to congregate such as seating areas, block them off or don’t put them out.
    • Arrange a garden schedule so that spacing can be maintained and reduces how many times people go to the garden per week.  Set a schedule in place, particularly for smaller gardens, and/or gardens with smaller boxes, to ensure maximum number of people.  For example plots can be numbered and ask odd/even numbered plots to come on different days. Online scheduling can be used if garden members all have access to internet and computers.  If not, then static rules needs to be put in place that can be communicated to people over the phone.
    • Each garden should determine the safe number of people in the garden at any one time to make physical distancing possible. Do not exceed this number at any time. Ensure all gardeners know the maximum number of people allowed. 
  • Children should only be brought to garden on an as-needed basis.  Children cannot be brought in if they are too young to understand physical distancing and hygiene practices to the garden (unless they can be kept in a stroller or are carried in an on-body support. Parents or guardians who bring children to the garden are responsible for following the guidelines and sanitizing any tools the children use.
  • Some gardeners or staff may not feel safe working alone in a garden space. If so, do not require them to work alone but ensure physical distancing across people from different households. 
  • People can be encouraged to wear face masks as they can reduce (not eliminate) the spread of droplets from people who are infected but aren’t showing symptoms.  Masks don’t replace proper physical distancing.
  • No pets are allowed. Garden members can bring service animals. 
  • Gardeners should plan ahead, used gardening techniques that reduce labour, and minimize the number of trips they make to the garden.
    • Use mulch to reduce the need for watering and weeding. 
    • Row covers can control pest invasions when people are not in the garden as frequently to monitor pest activity.

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Provide handwashing stations and/or hand sanitizer. Anyone entering the gardens should wash their hands before entering and upon leaving.
  • Soap is very effective at killing the COVID-19 virus if proper handwashing procedure is followed.  Ensure all gardeners know how to wash hands properly. 
  • Gardeners should consider bringing their own tools and garden gloves to avoid sharing tools. 
    • If the number of gardeners is small, they can have dedicated bins and buckets.
    • Take garden gloves home to wash after every use and do not share.
  • Identify and disinfect surfaces before and after use, including: reusable bins and buckets, shared tools, railings, doorknobs, water spigots and tables. Non-porous plastic, metal and glass surfaces are best.
    • Be sure to remove all dirt and other organic matter from the surface of tools before sanitizing. Make sure tools are dry before sanitizing or the sanitizer will be diluted.
    • Ensure everyone is responsible for disinfecting all identified surfaces before and after each use.  
  • For disinfecting, use a sanitizing solution of either 75% or higher alcohol based product or bleach at a concentration of 20ml/4 teaspoons per litre. Diluted bleach has a shelf life of 24 hours, mix a fresh batch every day.
  • Avoid touching your face, particularly nose, mouth and eyes unless you have just washed your hands.
  • Latex gloves do not replace proper sanitation practices.  It is encouraged to use gardening gloves and to wash them after each visit, along with disinfecting/washing hands each time.
  • Find ways to limit or eliminate touching of surfaces.
    • A designated person can open the shed door or compost bin lid in the morning and it is left open as next person enters the garden. Another person closes and disinfects at end of day. 
    • Garden members can focus on completing one task rather than doing many things in different spaces.
    • One person can manage the compost.  
  • It is even more important at this time to keep garbage and clutter out of the garden to maintain sanitized surfaces. 
  • If anyone displays symptoms (such as fever, coughs, muscle aches, tiredness or difficulty breathing) have resources ready and/or posted as to where they should call).

Communication 

Community gardens have a strong role to play in educating people about safe practices and gaining compliance with public health COVID-19 measures. 

Fight myth-information – go to trusted sources like your local public health unit or World Health Organization https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

  • Use any communication methods that work to reach your gardeners to inform them about the new measures – email, phone, social media sites, bulletin boards, posters. 
    • Use peer-to-peer translation when translated materials are not sufficient.
  • Place posters with garden COVID-19 policies and recommended measures around the garden. 
  • Post a public notice outside garden entry points indicating the garden is closed to the public, only authorized garden members are permitted. 
    • Include statement that garden members have been trained (through videos) in COVID-19 safety protocols and agree to abide by them (so public understands why some people are allowed in the garden)
    • If you are donating produce to community food programs, include a sign explaining this, to reduce vandalism and theft.
  • Crises like a pandemic increase tensions and anxiety. We can best respond with calmness and compassion.  
    • Have a system in place to support mediating conflict in the garden.  
    • Counter misinformation and racist or xenophobic remarks. 

Planning

  • It is very important to have a dedicated decision maker or team to hold responsibility for communicating with garden members, getting signed agreements and responding to garden members who do not comply with guidelines.  The contact information for these people in each garden should be identified to the municipality and community network organizers in your region (if that exists).
  • People who have been assigned tasks may fall ill or need to go into self-isolation. Have a back up plan for garden access (locks, keys, entry codes), organizing (contact lists, task allocations) and maintenance in case the person in charge of those things need to self-isolate.
  • Community gardens should seek ways to prioritize new garden space access for people who are facing specific barriers to food/income access, whenever possible.  Equity-seeking groups have traditionally faced greater barriers in accessing growing space based on the first-come-first-served systems used by many community gardens.  With limited garden space available for the season, gardens can prioritize access for those who will potentially have the most benefit.
    • Gardens can maintain a separate, prioritized wait list for people facing barriers to food access.
    • Offer volunteer and leadership roles to people from equity-seeking groups.
    • Consider increasing food grown for donation to community food programs. 
    • During crisis times, it is even more important to ensure that food is distributed equitably and reaching those who need it most and community gardens play an important role within this.
  • For gardens with allocated plots, some gardeners may choose not to use their plot this year, particularly people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems.  Options to deal with this:
    • Garden coordinators can ask them to give their plot to another person for this year, but both the current plot holder and the new gardener should be very clear that the allocation is temporary. 
    • This could be an opportunity to open spaces for gardeners from equity-seeking groups who traditionally face barriers to accessing plots. 
    • The garden may decide that open plots will be used to grow food to donate to community food programs, with some people in the garden agreeing to maintain them. 
    • The garden may choose to continue to grow food and share food with the gardeners who cannot garden due to illness/compromised immune systems.
  • Many gardens distribute seeds and seedlings and may need to develop a plan for distributing harvested produce if garden members are not taking it for themselves. A safety plan is needed to ensure transfer of seeds, seedlings and produce doesn’t transfer the virus as well.
    • Arrange for contactless deliveries (leaving seedlings or food on a doorstep or curb, arranging a drop-off time for apartments), handwashing before and after handling deliveries, minimizing the number of people handling the deliveries. 

Sources

City of Toronto, COVID-19
https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/

Institute nationale de santé publique du Québec. « Avis : Jardins communautaires et collectifs » April 8, 2020. https://sustainontario.com/2020/04/14/quebecs-proposed-safety-protocols-for-community-gardens/

Public Health Agency of Canada. “Risk-Informed Decision-Making Guidelines for Workplaces and Businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Government of Canada, March 22, 2020. http://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents/risk-informed-decision-making-workplaces-businesses-covid-19-pandemic.html.

Seymour Natalie, Mary Yavelak, Candice Christian, and Ben Chapman. “COVID-19 FAQ for Community Gardens: Steps for Garden Managers and Gardeners.” EDIS New Publications RSS. Food Science and Human Nutrition, March 20, 2020. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs342.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “COVID-19: Resources for Households”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 6, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

World Economic Forum, These products work best to kill the virus, March 20, 2020,

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/clean-kill-coronavirus-covid19-safety-health/

With content from community garden protocols from Wareham Community Garden, Durham Integrated Growers, City of Surrey, University of Florida IFAS Extension and Institute nationale de santé publique du Québec.

This document was initially created by Toronto Urban Growers and 10 other Toronto agencies, and contributed to greatly by members of the Ontario Community Growing Network, followed by members of the Food Communities Network across Canada.

Gardening Training and Information for the 2020 Season

Update on Community Gardening in Ontario

1. Apr 16 | Webinar and Safety Recommendations Information 

Free Taped Gardening Webinars 

2. FREE Online Gardening Workshops | Get a Head Start on your Growing Season including Seed Starting

Live Gardening Webinars (Good for Getting Your Questions Answered)

3. Apr 18 & 20 | Small Plot Garden Design for Front Yard, Back Yard and Garden Boxes

4. Apr 18 & 21 | Container, Balcony and Window Sill Gardening

5. Apr 19 & 23 | Vermicomposting Design for Your Garden

6. Apr 22, 27 and May 2 | Basic Organic Gardening

7. Apr 26 | Outdoor Compost and Ways for Soil Building

8. Apr 25 & 29 | Seed Saving Up Above – Garden Planning Considerations

9. May 6 & 9 | Herbalism Workshop – Herbs to Grow and Weeds to Keep

More training webinars coming soon!


1. Apr 16 | Webinar and Safety Recommendations Information 

Hear an update first-hand on the efforts to declare community gardening as an essential service in Ontario.  

WHEN: Thursday, April 16 at 4:30pm
WHERE: Online (via Zoom)      
RSVP: For more information, click here

Learn more about the consultations, efforts and actions that have taken place with the OCGN. This includes the most recent letter and proposed safety protocols sent to the Ontario Government.

We thank all of you who have signed the initial petition and emailed Members of Parliament to urge Ontario to include community gardens as essential food services. If you haven’t signed already, you still can here. This update will detail the response of these actions as well as the development of proposed safety protocols.

This webinar is hosted by Moe Garahan of Just Food and Rhonda Teitel-Payne of Toronto Urban Growers, Co-Chairs of the Ontario Community Growing Network (OCGN).

2. FREE Online Gardening Workshops | Get a Head Start on your Growing Season including Starting Seeds

We will be posting free, pre-recorded workshops to learn the gardening basics from instructors who are experienced. There are two workshops currently available with more workshops coming soon:

  1. Urban Organic Vegetable and Herb Gardening – Container and Small Space Gardening
  2. Indoor Seed Starting

Please stay tuned to the page Gardening Workshops on the Just Food website to view more free gardening workshops as they become available. 

These online workshops are produced by Community Gardening Network at Just Food, in partnership with community partners and garden instructors.


Live Gardening Webinars

Please note: All of our 2020 Gardening Workshops will be online until further notice. Our goal is to enable as many gardeners as possible to grow food successfully in our region. All facilitators are experienced gardeners who have teaching experience and understand growing conditions in our region.

3. Apr 18 & 20 | Small Plot Garden Design for Front Yard, Back Yard and Garden Boxes

Have a backyard and do not know how to convert it into a food garden? Or that front yard with perfect sunlight but worry about the look of having a tomato trellis? What about those beautiful garden boxes you’ve always wanted to make?

Two Identical Sessions:

April 18

WHEN: Saturday, April 18 at 10am 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
RSVP: Click here to register for April 18
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend April 18 for free)          

April 20

WHEN: Monday, April 20 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
RSVP: Click here to register for April 20
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)       

This workshop focuses on designing small food gardens outdoors, around your house or in a small plot, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. It is good for both beginners or intermediate gardeners who have questions or want to confirm their practices growing food in the Ottawa region.

4. Apr 18 & 21 | Container, Balcony and Window Sill Gardening

Want to grow vegetables and herbs on your balcony or window sill? Container gardening is a great way of growing food if you know how. Small space can be very productive if you learn a few things about how to design it.

Two identical sessions

April 18

WHEN: Saturday, April 18 at 2pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register for April 18

April 21

WHEN: Tuesday, April 21 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register for April 21

This workshop focuses on using small space and light for growing food INDOORS, or on your BALCONY, without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Both beginners or intermediate gardeners can learn the basics and get useful tips on planting and harvesting your own pots of fresh produce!

5. Apr 19 & 23 | Vermicomposting Design for Your Garden

Just Food, in partnership with Box Of Life, brings this exciting workshop on using worms to make compost! Composting with red wiggler earthworms is easy, odour and bug free, and one of the quickest ways to create organic fertilizer from kitchen scraps. Why throw food into landfill when you can be a compost hero instead?

Two identical sessions

April 19

WHEN: Sunday, April 19 at 2pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register for April 19

April 23

WHEN: Thursday, April 23 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register for April 23

This workshop focuses on what you need to know to build your own vermicomposing system at home. It covers the basics of designing and running a vermi-composter. You can bring your questions and get tips for your system too.

6. Apr 22, 27 and May 2 | Basic Organic Gardening

Interested in organic gardening but don’t know where to start? This workshop is great for any gardener wishing to brush up on their gardening theory before the season. Whether you have never gardened before or hoping to boost your confidence in your abilities, you are sure to learn something at this workshop. 

Two identical sessions and one French session:

April 22

WHEN: Wednesday, April 22 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register for April 22

Le 27 avril

QUAND: lundi 27 avril à 19:00
OÙ: En ligne (Zoom – les participants peuvent avoir l’accès gratuit en utilisant un ordinateur ou un téléphone via l’internet, or par télécharger l’app Zoom)
PRIX: 5 $ par personne
(Si le paiement c’est un problème, cliquez ce lien pour demander de participer gratuitement)
REGISTRER: Veuillez registrer ici pour le 27 avril

May 2

WHEN: Saturday, May 2 at 2pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)   
RSVP: Click here to register for May 2

This workshop focuses on growing common variety vegetables in the Ottawa region in various settings – your living room, small space and yards – without the use of pesticides or herbicides.

7. Apr 26 | Outdoor Compost and Ways for Soil Building

Good soil is the basis for good gardening. Compost is the most important nutrient to give to your garden, especially in. It’s also free and easy to make in your own home when you know how. Composting is an environmentally-friendly way to ‘up-cycle’ your kitchen waste and yard waste.

WHEN: Sunday, April 26 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register

This workshop will teach the various ways of making compost, and how to use this ‘black gold’ to build healthy soil for your gardening success. Whether you are new to gardening or want to learn more about composting design for your garden, to ask questions.

8. Apr 25 & 29 | Seed Saving Up Above – Garden Planning Considerations

Just Food, in partnership with Gaia Organic Seed, brings this workshop just in time when you are starting and planning your garden this year. This workshop will equip you with the necessary skills to harvest your own seeds successfully for growing in the next years to come.

April 25

WHEN: Saturday, April 25 at 2pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register

April 29

WHEN: Wednesday, April 29 at 7pm 
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)          
RSVP: Click here to register

This workshop focuses on what you need to know to be able to harvest seeds from your own garden plot or pot. Plants naturally go to seed, but to grow vegetables for seeds, there are basic principles to follow and techniques to use.

9. May 6 & 9 | Herbalism Workshop – Herbs to Grow and Weeds to Keep

Just Food, in partnership with Amber Westfall of the Wild Garden, presents this workshop on herbalism! Do not miss this inspiring session with Amber that may just elevate your relationship with your garden plants to a new level.

May 6

WHEN: Wednesday, May 6 at 6:30pm
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)
RSVP: Click here to register

May 9

WHEN: Saturday, May 9 at 2pm
WHERE: Online (Zoom meeting – participants can access for free using a computer or phone via internet browser, or by downloading the Zoom app)
COST: $5 per person
(If payment is an issue, click this link to request to attend for free)
RSVP: Click here to register

Learn about adding good and healing herbs into your gardening project and how to meet those ‘weeds’ that might be worth keeping!

More training webinars coming soon!

Finding Food in Ottawa during COVID-19 – Please forward to everyone in your work and home networks asap

Just Food Newsletter April 10, 2020


In this Newsletter:

1. Good Food at Your Doorstep Launched | First order due by Monday 13th at noon for deliveries next Friday / Saturday

2. Connect to GoodFoodOttawa.ca for information on where to find food in Ottawa both if you are struggling with income AND if you are more financially secure and looking for online options


1. Good Food at Your Doorstep Launched | First order due by Monday 13th at noon for deliveries next week

Low income and vulnerable households can order a ‘Good Food at Your Doorstep’ box full of fresh fruits and veggies for $20. There is an option to donate a box to a household financially impacted. You may also buy a box for someone you know who is having difficulties affording food by using their delivery address and phone number.

The project provides those facing financial barriers to access food with an affordable ($20) box packed with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies delivered right to the doorstep, with delivery free of charge, thanks to Ottawa Community Foundation.

Due to the social distancing requirements, all home deliveries are ‘no contact’. Once the order is placed, customers will receive their box on one of the delivery days later that week between Wednesday and Saturday (9am-5pm). Produce changes weekly depending on availability and seasonality. Orders placed by Friday of each week will be delivered the following week, with an extension given on orders for delivery this first week until Monday April 13 at noon.

The Ottawa Good Food Box, in collaboration with MarketMobile, led by the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre, partnered with Ottawa Community Foundation, North House Foods and Just Food, is launching Good Food at Your Doorstep as one response to the need from COVID-19.

Ottawa Good Food Box - Think Inside the Box

2. Are You Looking For Food online or delivered? Visit GoodFoodOttawa.ca / BonnebouffeOttawa.ca

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, you may be looking for ways to buy online. Just Food will continue to update Good Food Ottawa as a one-stop-shop for finding food – for those struggling with income AND for those who are more financially secure AND for people seeking options to support local farmers. This service existed before, will be updated during COVID-19, and will exist into the future, to ensure good information on food is available.

Please share these sites throughout all of your networks as quickly as possible to ensure everyone has updated information on services available:  

On it, you will find:

  • Resources just published by City of Ottawa re. what is open now for emergency food support, for household and for isolated seniors
  • Good Food at Your Doorstep: a $20 box of fresh fruit and vegetables with free delivery for those struggling with low-incomes 
  • Savour Ottawa Buy Local Food Guide: Producers newly updated on April 8, 2020 – find local farms, restaurants, markets, retail, breweries, wineries and microprocessors (including those who have online shops)
  • CSA Farms: a detailed listing of who still has boxes available for the 2020 season (CSA stands for Community Shared Agriculture farmers in the Ottawa region)
  • Groceries and Restaurants: find online stores and restaurants that are open and operating with pick up or delivery options
  • FoodLink Directory: food bank, community meal program, community kitchen or meal programs (Please check individual websites for updated COVID-19 hours as many of these may be closed or have reduced hours)
  • Farmers’ Markets: find more information on farmers’ markets in Ottawa as it becomes available.  Many are moving towards online ordering with pick-up options

If you are aware of places that are not on the above lists, or aware of information that has changed, please let us know at info@justfood.ca.