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.
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. For updates on upcoming workshops and events, please visit the Workshop Updates and Garden Events pages.
Access to GreenThumb Community Gardens on NYC Parks Property
Gardens on NYC Parks property are closed to the public, and open to garden members only for absolutely necessary maintenance and season preparation activities.
At GreenThumb, the health and safety of the public and our partners is always our top concern. In compliance with Governor Cuomo’s executive order, effective immediately and until further notice community gardens on NYC Parks property may remain open or closed to garden members only at the discretion of each garden group, and only for absolutely necessary maintenance and season preparation. Due to the relatively small spaces in most gardens and the difficulty in achieving safe social distancing of 6 feet or more, gardens must remain closed to the general public. We realize that this will be disappointing to some, but it is necessary to help protect public health. Below are details and requirements to guide garden groups, which remain in effect until further notice:
- Garden Access: Access must be limited to garden members only, and only for garden maintenance and season preparation that is absolutely necessary. Gardens must remain closed to the public until further notice, and gardeners should close keep garden gates closed while working in gardens.
- Events and Gatherings: All public events in community gardens on NYC Parks property are prohibited. In addition, all in-person meetings, activities, and gatherings of garden groups are prohibited. Large projects that require many hands must be postponed.
- Social Distancing: Gardeners working in gardens must observe safe social distancing by keeping at 6 feet between all people at all times
- Staggering Access: Garden groups must make best efforts to stagger access to gardens to minimize the number of members inside at the same time
- Disinfecting Surfaces: Gardeners should regularly disinfect all shared tools and spaces. Disinfection guidelines can be found on the CDC website.
- 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.
Please visit the GreenThumb website to stay informed of any changes as things continue to evolve. GreenThumb shares your disappointment in reducing access to community gardens, especially during a crisis, but it is imperative that we all work together to help protect public health and keep our fellow New Yorkers safe.
Food Distribution for GreenThumb Community Gardens on NYC Parks Property
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.
Please remember that NYC Parks GreenThumb community gardens must remain closed to the general public, with the sole exception of customers entering to obtain food in strict compliance with the below requirements. The practices outlined below were developed by GrowNYC and shared by DOHMH 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. Gardens can also serve as pick-up locations for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
- 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.
- Gloves: All gardeners/vendors and those assisting with processing transactions should 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.
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.
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 Workshop Updates and Garden Events pages.
LUNCH WITH GREENTHUMB
GreenThumb GrowTogether may not be happening this year, but we've still got some great workshops lined up to get you gardening this season! GreenThumb is going virtual for a series of lunchtime workshops throughout the month of April, many of which have been rescheduled from the original conference lineup. Join us for a series of online workshops to dig in, grow food, and keep your community garden going while following health and safety protocols.
Please visit bit.ly/GTWorkshopUpdates for details.
All GreenThumb-led workshops are being cancelled, postponed, or offered online until further notice. For the latest updates on whether a workshop is cancelled, postponed, or moving online, please visit bit.ly/GTWorkshopUpdates.
All public events in community gardens on NYC Parks property are prohibited. In addition, all in-person meetings, activities, and gatherings of garden groups are prohibited inside the garden. Large projects that require many hands must be postponed. We understand many gardens schedule their kickoff gardener meetings around this time but please do not hold these meetings in-person, therefore, postpone meetings or shift to conference or video calls.
GreenThumb has been in communication with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) - the City agency that manages access to fire hydrants - during this crisis. Unfortunately, all DEP customer service and records offices are closed until further notice, and hydrant permits for community gardens cannot by issued at this time. Only emergency repair permits are being processed, and unfortunately this does not include community garden permits. DEP understands the disappointment that this causes, but this once in a century pandemic has dramatically impacted the City as a whole. Unfortunately, DEP is not able to extend 2019 hydrant access permits.
For any garden that obtained a 2020 permit before the COVID-19 crisis, they are reminded that using a DEP-provided RPZ is mandatory. Additional details can be found here.