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Community Gardens and COVID-19



Issued on behalf of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

Community gardens are allowed to open during COVID-19, after the Ontario government deemed them an essential service

The Health Unit is offering recommendations to community gardens that operate in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to protect the health and safety of everyone during COVID-19. Below are the minimum standards that all community gardens must have in place before opening. 

Use these standards as a starting point to begin planning and developing specific COVID-19 policies and protocols for your community garden. Be sure to communicate these plans to all garden members. You are also required to update information with the Health Unit. 

Entrance Restrictions/Requirements

  • Members of the public are not allowed into the gardens. Only garden members are allowed
  • Garden members cannot visit the garden if they show symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19
  • Post signs around the garden on COVID-19 symptoms, physical distancing, and handwashing. Policies and protocols relating to the coronavirus should also be put up at all entrances and throughout the garden
  • Events where large numbers of people gather such as flower festivals, children’s events, training, group builds etc. are not permitted
  • Use a ‘sign-in and sign-out system’ to track who is in the garden each day 
  • Update the list of current registered members, staff and volunteers involved in the community garden. Track those who have agreed to participate under COVID-19 policies and protocols

Physical Distancing

  • Only allow a maximum of five people to work in the community garden at any one time (For example, develop a schedule where plots are numbered, and odd/even numbered plots come on different days)
  • Maintain physical distancing when two or more gardeners are present. Keep at least two metres (six feet) apart from others
  • If people plan to wear homemade/personal masks in the garden, follow this Public Health Ontario fact sheet on how to properly wear and throw away mask.
  • Remember wearing rubber gloves out in public does not reduce the risk of COVID-19. Handwashing with soap/water or hand sanitizer and not touching your face offer more protection 
  • If gardeners choose to wear mask and rubber gloves, wash hands before putting on the mask/gloves and after taking them off
  • Masks and rubber gloves must be disposed of in a lined garbage bin only

Hand Hygiene/Handwashing

  • Provide handwashing or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with 60 to 90% alcohol content) stations
  • Encourage all gardeners to regularly wash/sanitize hands, especially before entering and after leaving the garden  
  • Gardeners should know that if their hands are visibly soiled, they must first wash them with soap and water or wipe them before applying alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Garden Equipment and Tools - Use and Cleaning Requirements

  • Ask garden members to bring their own tools, or assign select tools and tasks to individuals or smaller groups
  • Avoid sharing garden gloves. Gardeners should take their gloves home to wash after each use 
  • Use gardening techniques that reduce the need for frequent trips to the garden (For example: use mulch to reduce the need for watering/weeding, row covers to prevent pests, etc.)
  • Create and implement procedures to clean and disinfect all shared tools before and after garden work
  • Regularly clean gardening tools with soap and water to remove organic matter. First rinse off soap with water, then disinfect. Use either a mixture of 1 Tbsp. of household (5%) bleach and 1 litre of warm water (mix a fresh batch each day) with 10 minutes contact time OR commercial Lysol or Clorox disinfectant with contact time indicated on label for disinfecting
  • Ensure regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, padlocks, water spigots, gates handle, railings etc.
  • When bringing home garden produce, wash any vegetables and fruit under clean running water (not soapy water) before eating 

Notifying the Health Unit

You must notify the Health Unit of your plans to operate a community garden this coming growing season. Contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, or to provide the following information:

  • Name and location of your community garden
  • Whether there are plans to open the community garden this year
  • Confirmation that you have received the Health Unit’s checklist and the Ontario’s Ministry of Health’s guidance document for operating a community garden 
  • Agreement that you will follow these directions open your garden  

Additional Resources


For further information contact: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, or



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