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NC State Extension

COVID-19 FAQ for Community Gardens

close up of a slice of the virus that causes Covid-19

Steps for Garden Managers and Gardeners

BEST PRACTICES

  • Anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or who has come in contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should not come to the gardens. Ask anyone displaying symptoms to leave.
  • Postpone any events to avoid people gatherings in close contact. Maintain a 6-foot social distance between people.
  • Consider limiting the number of visitors, or closing the garden to the public.
  • CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings. Scroll down their page for directions for making sew and no-sew masks. A sheet or bandana and a coffee filter can protect you.
  • Consider wearing disposable gloves to avoid picking up germs from gates, spigots, etc.
  • Consider bringing your own tools from home and not sharing tools.

red image of the virus that causes COVID-19

CLEANING AND DISINFECTION

  • Gardens should provide hand-washing stations, if at all possible, and/or hand sanitizer and request that everyone wash their hands before entering the garden and upon exiting.
  • Surfaces.
    • Disinfect surfaces on a regular basis, including: reusable bins and buckets, shared tools, railings, doorknobs, tables, locks, gate latches, water spigots, hoses  etc.
    • Use non-porous plastic tables that can be easily disinfected whenever possible.
  • Tools:
    • Clean and disinfect when possible. Wash and rinse tools prior to sanitizing to remove organic matter on the surface that would reduce the benefit of sanitizers. Provide a tub of soapy water (a biodegradable soap should be just fine here) and a separate to tub to rinse tools before tools are sanitized.
  • Disinfectants:
    • CDC advises using compounds on the list of EPA recommended disinfectants, which can be found at: go.ncsu.edu/epaCOVID-19   Note: this list is based on current data, but compounds have not been validated for COVID-19.
    • Bleach may be used to disinfect surfaces, but the concentration is higher for COVID-19 than for everyday sanitation: 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

Green Graphic of virus causing Covid-19

THE GOOD NEWS

COVID-19 is not a food-borne illness. It is extremely unlikely that someone will catch it through eating. The virus is most likely to cause illness through respiratory transmission, not eating. The routes of exposure to be concerned about include:

  • Being in very close proximity to other people, or
  • Coming in contact with high touch surfaces (gate latches, padlocks, spigots, tool handles, doorknobs, banisters, etc.).
  • Touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

PLAN AHEAD

Be prepared for the possibility that there may be limited access to the garden or gardeners may be sick at critical times in the future.

  • Mulch now to prevent weeds and reduce soil moisture loss
  • Install automatic irrigation
  • Use row covers for insect control when feasible.
  • Stay ahead of seasonal tasks

Blue Graphic of virus that causes COVID-19

STAY ENGAGED

The garden is the social center for many gardeners. Social Distance need not lead to social isolation. Stay in touch even when you can’t gather in person. Use your website, web conferencing (Zoom.com, Discord, Google Hangouts), listserves, social media and newsletters to foster a connection by sharing:

  • Stories and Profiles of gardeners
  • Tips and Strategies shared by gardeners
  • Recipes
  • Photos of home gardens and gardens from previous years
  • Consider offering online webinars on gardening topics – feature gardeners and gardening experts from NC State Extension and elsewhere

Additional Food Safety Resources from NC State

Stay informed: go.ncsu.edu/COVID-19, CDC – Coronavirus
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Prepared by Natalie Seymour, Ben Chapman, Lucy Bradley and Joni Young-Torres

Updated March 17, 2020