This post is based on a letter created by Just Food Farms to be shared with members of provincial parliament, advocating that community food gardens be removed from the list of non-essential services that must remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
Having the ability to safely grown local food is critical for food security in this time, especially for vulnerable families. The City of Gatineau and the Province of BC have deemed these gardens to be essential services. These community gardens are important as guardian against food insecurity and they provide physical, mental and economic benefits for members.
Thousands upon thousands of families rely on community gardens to produce food for their families each year. In Ottawa, we have a conservative accounting of 7,000 people relying on community gardens to supplement their food during the growing season. There has been a major increase in demand for this service since the beginning of COVID-19. People throughout the province have already invested in their seeds, and started seedlings, for this growing season.
This model of community food production is seen as integral to the COVID-19 response in countries throughout the world, particularly as food prices increase and global food supplies are increasingly uncertain. Food banks also receive tonnes of much-needed fresh food in Ottawa from local community garden efforts. Community gardening availability should be enhanced, not limited, especially at this time.
We all take safety seriously. We support community growing with clear protocols that
WORK in gardens to maintain public safety, agreed to by public health officials. The Ottawa Community Gardening Network at Just Food is working with public health departments to achieve such safety protocols and is a key partner in communicating critical public health messages to our communities. However, we must not identify community gardens as recreational activities, as for many, many people community gardens are essential ways that community members access their food.
If you believe community food gardens are an essential service that should remain accessibly to people during this difficult time, please visit the Just Food site, personalize their letter, and send it to your MPP today!