Troy Shantz & George Mathewson
Lambton’s medical officer of health has given a green light to reopening community and allotment gardens, one of the first pandemic emergency orders being eased locally.
But guidelines will remain in place to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 among community gardeners, Dr. Sudit Ranade said.
Sarnia-Lambton has numerous community gardens run by organizations and churches in parks and other public lands. Often, the gardens provide fresh produce at low or no cost in the summer months.
Sarnia rents out 35 garden lots in Germain Park to city gardeners from May 1 to Oct. 31, and there’s normally a waiting list for the 20x20-foot plots, said Ryan Chamney, manager of recreation and planning. This spring, 28 lots have been rented and staff was just awaiting word to release the permits, he added.
“From a parks and recreation standpoint, we love the program.” he said. “We love the community, the neighbourhood collaboration, and are always eager to work with community groups and provide a purpose to some park space.”
On such group is comprised of neighbours near Hanna Park, who worked with the city to establish a garden there.
Mitton Village residents also have a community garden, Chamney said. The city tills the ground and providing some of the seed, mulch and water, he said.
It’s rare for community gardeners to tend to the land at the same time as others, said Joshua Walters, one of the Hanna garden organizers.
“I think it will be easy to adhere to public health's guidelines," he said.
Those restrictions include:
* Members, staff and volunteer access only
* Stay home if you are sick
* No more than five people at a time, staying at least two metres (six feet) apart
* Bring disinfectant and clean hands before and after leaving the garden
* And no sharing of tools or gloves.