Operating Community Gardens Safely

Community gardens are permitted to operate under strict health and safety guidelines.

Screening and Entrance Restrictions

  • Prohibit access to anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or has had close contact with a confirmed case. Individuals exhibiting symptoms possibly due to COVID-19 infection while at the garden are to leave the garden and contact their family doctor or Public Health Services.
  • Restrict access to registered members, staff, and volunteers. Non-members and visitors should not be permitted to enter. 
  • Maintain an updated list of registered members, staff, and volunteers and keep a record of those who consent to participate under COVID19 policies and procedures.
  • Permit access to plant, maintain and harvest food only. Prohibit events such as flower festivals, children’s events and other programming, training, group builds, etc.
  • Active screening of all staff and volunteers must be completed before attending work. This involves asking questions about: COVID-19 symptoms, travel history, and if they have come into contact with any ill individuals. A sample screening tool is posted on the Ministry of Health webpage.
  • Prior to visiting the garden, all gardeners should complete the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool and follow the instructions provided. Anyone who is feeling unwell should not visit the garden.
  • Gardens should use a sign-in and sign-out system or implement another way to track who is in the garden each day. This may assist with Public Health follow-up with gardeners if required or other necessary measures.

Signage Requirements

  • Place clear, visible signage at all garden entrances reminding registered members, staff and volunteers about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, self-screening and where to seek assistance if they have symptoms.
  • Place clear, visible signage throughout the garden — especially locations where shared equipment, tools, etc. are located — reminding registered members, staff and volunteers of the requirements that must be followed when using the garden to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Masks and Face Coverings

Physical Distancing

  • Limit the number of gardeners in a space to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Everyone in the garden must always maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or 2 metres (unless gardening with members of the same household).
  • To ensure physical distancing is possible, each community garden should determine the maximum number of people permitted in the garden at one time. It is recommended that a garden schedule be developed to control the number of people permitted in the garden at once. Closing and/or blocking off all non-essential amenities such as picnic tables and benches. 
  • No guests are allowed in the community garden and social events should be cancelled to discourage any gathering.
  • Children should only be brought to garden on an as-needed basis and should be instructed to follow these physical distancing and hygiene recommendations except when gardening with close family members.

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • If possible, provide a place for gardeners to wash their hands. If the handwashing station is in a bathroom, the bathroom needs to be equipped with water under pressure, liquid hand soap, and paper towels. Bathrooms are required to be cleaned at least twice daily, or as needed. 
  • Encourage gardeners to bring hand sanitizer with them when gardening. If hands are visibly soiled, hand washing is recommended in place of hand sanitizer. 
  • Members are asked to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before entering and after leaving the garden, and after using shared tools, if feasible. 
  • All high touch surfaces such as faucet handles, spigots, shed locks/handles, gate locks should be cleaned and disinfected twice daily.
  • Consider removing shared tools and gloves and encouraging gardeners to bring their own.
    • If removing shared tools is not possible, gardeners are to wear their own gloves when using shared tools or wash their hands after using shared tools.
    • If cleaning tools, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Each gardener must wear their own pair of gloves

Additional Resources

  • Guidance on how to safely use a community garden during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on Sustain Ontario’s website.
  • Refer to Public Health Ontario website for fact sheets on how to self isolate, complete a self assessment, physical distancing, how to wash your hands and cleaning & disinfection. 
  • These guidelines apply to community and allotment gardens across the City of Hamilton. Please visit www.hamilton.ca/coronavirus regularly for COVID-19 updates and additional information on protecting yourself and others.