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UPDATED: Important Service Changes

The World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 disease, known as the coronavirus, a pandemic. Due to this, GreenThumb is making important service changes, to ensure the health and safety of our partners and the public. You can learn more, including how to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, on the CDC or NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene webpage

For important NYC Parks Department information, please visit NYC Parks' Service Announcements page. 

Find out more about GreenThumb’s best practices for community gardening, additional safety precautions, program cancellations, and potential closures before you head to a garden or event. Download GreenThumb's "Working Together Remotely" Toolkit for resources on virtual engagement with your garden members. For updates on upcoming workshops and events, please visit the Garden Events page.


updated September 16, 2020

Community Gardens operating on NYC Parks property may remain open to garden members at the discretion of each licensed garden group. Gardens may also now reopen to members of the public at the discretion of each garden group. Gardens are not required to host public open hours.  

Garden activities
Effective 9/10/2020, GreenThumb community garden groups operating on NYC Parks property may host public events with prior written approval from GreenThumb. Attendance at all approved events will be capped at 25 people, or less, depending on the size and layout of the garden. A garden member must remain on-site at all times to ensure observance of public health requirements by all attendees. Garden groups may submit a request to host an event at THIS LINK. Food distribution activities remain permitted as outlined on the GreenThumb website

*Si el español es el idioma primario de los miembros del grupo de jardinería y desea organizar un evento, por favor contacte a

Outdoor Learning
Please note that all requests for schools in New York City to use NYC Parks properties, including community gardens, as outdoor classrooms must be submitted by school principals through the Outdoor Learning Initiative.       


Garden groups that open to garden members or the public must observe the following:   

  • Collaborative decision-making: All decisions regarding reopening should be made in accordance with the garden group’s bylaws and decisions should be clearly communicated to all garden members.
  • Notify NYC Parks GreenThumbGarden groups that plan to reopen to the public must first notify their GreenThumb Outreach Coordinator, so that we can keep track of which gardens are open. 
  • SignageGarden groups must hang clear signage near the garden entrance communicating its public access policy. You can download signage and templates in multiple languages below.
  • Face Covering: To help ensure safety within the confined space of many gardens, everyone inside of gardens (gardeners and the public) must always wear face covering, even if they are more than 6 feet away from other individuals.
  • Social Distancing: Everyone inside of community gardens (gardeners and the public) must always observe safe social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between all people. Social distancing applies even if a face covering is used. Consider staggering access for garden members to reduce the number of people inside.    
  • Maximum occupancy: Regardless of garden size, the total occupancy at any community garden may not exceed 25 people at any time. 
  • Gardens must be attended: Groups may not open the garden gates and leave the garden unattended.  
    Garden groups must have a garden member physically located on site whenever the garden is open to the public to help ensure that social distancing and face covering requirements are being adhered to and that large groups do not gather. 
  • Responding to incidents: Gardeners are not responsible for enforcing NYC Parks rules or correcting anyone’s behavior. Please politely remind and educate garden members and public visitors on social distancing and face covering protocols if necessary and if you are comfortable doing so.  Concerns about individuals who refuse to observe social distancing should be reported to 311. For more serious issues, you should contact GreenThumb, call NYC Parks Central Communications at (646) 613-1200, or 911 depending on the severity of the issue.
  • Indoor spaces: No more than one person may be in a confined indoor space at the same time, such as greenhouses, sheds, and casitas. 
  • Permitted activities within Community Gardens: Gardeners may continue all necessary maintenance and gardening activities. Large projects that require many hands should still be avoided. Garden groups may now host in-person meetings of the garden group at the garden, but social distancing and face covering protocols must continue to be followed. These garden meetings must be critical to discuss the management of the group and space.  Social events, even if just with gardeners, are still prohibited.
  • Disinfect Commonly Used Surfaces: Where possible, wash and disinfect commonly used and handled tools and equipment and other surfaces likely to be touched by many people such as gates, locks, hoses, handles, and furniture. Disinfection guidelines can be found on the CDC website.  Unfortunately, the City of New York does not have the ability to provide cleaning products or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  

Factors for garden groups to consider before reopening to the public:

  • Garden group support and communication: Does the garden group support the decision? How will the group continue to communicate and keep in touch? Will the garden group reevaluate the decision to reopen after a specific amount of time?
  • Group capacity: How many members does the garden have, and what is their availability to ensure that all requirements above can be met?  
  • Open hours: Even if garden groups reopen to the public, they do not have to maintain the 20 hours of public access at this time. Groups should consider what public open hours will be, how will they be determined, and how the garden group will identify members to be present at the garden during open hours. 
  • Garden size: How large (or small) is the garden, and does the garden group have confidence that social distancing can be adhered to within the garden during public access? 
  • Expected garden usage: How do members of the public typically use the garden, and how might that change in the current environment? 
  • Maximum occupancy: Is the garden group establishing a maximum occupancy for the number of individuals inside the garden at any one time? How will that be communicated? Total occupancy may not exceed 25 people at one time; garden groups may choose a lower limit among themselves.
  • Cleaning: Is the garden group able to regularly disinfect shared tools, equipment, and surfaces, including portable toilets?  Will hand sanitizer or other means to wash hands be available?
  • Community composting: If the garden group has an active composting operation, will you accept food scraps from neighbors? Can you do this safely? How is this being communicated? How will the group respond if the amount of food scraps overwhelms the group? 
    *Please see our COVID-19 Composting Safety Guide for guidelines and resources.
  • Signage: What kind of signage should be prepared and hung to support safe public access to the garden? Will certain garden areas remain open to members only? 
  • Garden clean-up: What debris and other obstructions must be cleared up or stored away by the garden group before reopening to ensure that the garden is safe for visitors? 
  • Illness and high-risk populations: Does the garden group have members who are at high risk, or do members have friends and family that they will come into contact with who are at high risk? How will garden members who become ill be advised to refrain from gardening while sick?
  • Garden Membership: Garden groups can continue to accept new members, at their discretion, if they believe that they can orient new members in accordance with all applicable requirements.
  • Review Current COVID-19 Information: Gardeners should review current information and guidelines on COVID-19 on the CDC and DOHMH webpage, especially with regard to populations at risk.
  • Trash removal: What is the garden group’s plan to safely collect and remove trash form the site?
  • Bylaws: Are your group’s bylaws and governance documents able to guide decision making, and even disagreements, on the many topics that are likely to arise in the coming months?  GreenThumb can help your group update them if needed. 

Please visit this page to stay informed of any changes as things continue to evolve. If garden groups have specific questions, they should feel free to contact their designated Outreach Coordinator. GreenThumb shares gardeners’ excitement in taking this first step toward reopening the gardens to the public. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions. It is imperative that we all work together and adhere to these requirements in order to help protect public health and keep our fellow New Yorkers safe. 


Food Distribution for GreenThumb Community Gardens on NYC Parks Property
updated 5/29/2020

NYC Parks GreenThumb has consulted with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and we have outlined requirements below for the continued distribution of food through a farmers market, farm stand, fresh food box, CSA, or similar operation.  These requirements are mandatory for gardens operating on NYC Parks property. Garden groups in this category must confirm with their GreenThumb Outreach Coordinator that they have received this message and that they are complying with best practices. NYC Parks GreenThumb is also sharing this guidance with all gardens since it includes a number of tips to help improve public health at food distribution sites.

The practices outlined below were approved by DOHMN in order to ensure social distancing of six feet and a clean environment for food sales and distribution. They include: 

  • NYC Parks Requirements: For gardens on NYC Parks property, only food produced on-site can be sold, and only to support the continued operation of the garden, with the exception that gardens can also serve as pick-up locations for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Prepared meals and processed foods may not be distributed at gardens.
  • Food Handling: Only garden group members and those assisting with food distribution may handle products.  Customers must not touch any produce or products before purchase or distribution. Consider pre-packaging produce into bags where possible.
  • Food Coverings: All garden members and all members of the public must wear a face covering at all times.
  • Gloves: All gardeners/vendors and those assisting with processing transactions must wear protective gloves. When possible, to prevent cross contamination, those handling transactions should be separate from those handling any produce or food products.
  • Sanitizing: All gardeners, and those assisting with food distribution operations, should sanitize their stands regularly, primarily wiping down tables, terminals, cash boxes, etc..
  • Tent Spacing: Any tents should be spaced at least 10-feet apart to reduce congestion, ideally further.
  • Table Covers: Vinyl or plastic table covers should be used for easy sanitizing.
  • No Sampling: Absolutely no sampling of products is permitted.
  • No Beverages by-the-cup: No selling of any beverages by the cup is permitted.
  • Stay Home if Sick: All gardens and those assisting with food distribution must stay home if they are sick.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizer should be available at market manager stations.
  • Social Distancing: All gardeners must observe social distancing of six feet or more. Please politely remind all customers to observe social distancing of six feet or more, cover their coughs, not touch their faces, and stay home if they are sick by posting signage such as this one, also available in multiple languages here.

For additional guidance, please see guidance for food retailers here. Additional information about COVID 19 and DOHMH resources can be found here.

Thank you in advance for your close attention to these requirements. We encourage you to continue to take all necessary steps to help keep yourself and our City safe during this challenging time. You can learn more, including how to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, on the CDC or NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene webpage.


GreenThumb Programming

Find out more about our additional safety precautions, program cancellations, and potential closures before you head to a garden or event. For updates on upcoming workshops and events, please visit the Garden Events page.

All GreenThumb-led workshops are being offered online until further notice. For the latest updates, please visit the Garden Events page.

Service Announcements


Tags: Events, Gardens, News, Updates, Workshops

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