Community Growing Network

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An Ontario-wide network bringing together a variety of community gardens, urban agriculture projects, and organizations. The network comes together to share resources, discuss new ideas and strategize for the future of growing in Ontario.


April 2020 Proposed Regulations for Community Gardens 



Update from meeting with Premier’s office this afternoon (April 20, 2020):

Multiple offices have been meeting over the past week (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Premier’s Office), are giving “serious consideration” to the issue and are “making good progress towards an exemption for community gardens”.

We requested  an announcement this week that all food providing gardens (community gardens, allotments, apartment gardens, etc) are deemed essential food services, with the request that gardens can open at the end of this current emergency period – May 12 at the latest. This allows for flattening the curve on the incidence of COVID cases, and for time for gardens to organize health and safety protocols to ensure individual and public safety.

We provided them with the list of examples across Canada and beyond – see below. Please let us know any other articles you come across.

The Premier’s Office made special note of the efforts that went into developing the recommendations and found these very helpful.  (Thanks to everyone that fed into this!!). We also heard that contacting your MPPs and media coverage really had an impact and emphasized the importance of food producing gardens.  Statements of support from Mayors and Boards of Health help advance the issue too.

So while there’s no confirmation yet, it seems to be heading in the right direction, and we are hopeful to hear something more definitive soon.

Jurisdictions allowing community gardens to operate
during COVID-19 emergency measures


British Columbia

Community gardens and subsistence agriculture are essential services.

New Brunswick

Community gardens are essential services. Provincial government includes safety measures.


Community gardens are essential services.


Gatineau community gardens are open

Institute nationale de santé publique supports opening community gardens for food security and includes safety measures.


Ontario cities/Mayors expressing support


The Board of Health of the City of Ottawa passes motion unanimously on April 20, 2020 identifying allotment and community gardens as “an important measure to increase food security for many residents”, and asks province “to exempt outdoor allotment gardens and community gardens from the closure of outdoor recreational amenities in jurisdictions where public health measures can be implemented to support their safe operation to prevent the spread of COVID19.”







Edmonton –

Port Moody, BC –

New York City – gardens are open only for food production, city program growing seedlings for gardens

Latest COVID-19 Updates


A set of proposed regulations for community gardens were developed in consultation with community garden coordinators across North America and with information from local and national public health authorities. It outlines proposed standards to be followed, as well as suggestions on how to implement them, recognizing that due to the diversity of existing gardens (such as size, governance, location, equipment needs and language) some of these suggestions will be modified to work in each garden, while meeting the overall required standard for health and safety.

Read the Proposed Regulations for Community Gardens here

Early April

The Community Growing Network of Sustain Ontario sent a letter including new proposed safety protocols—developed through consultations that took place over the first two weeks of April—to the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Premier, and all Members of Provincial Parliament on April 14, 2020.

Read the full letter here.

Late March

In late March, the province of Ontario included community gardens on a list of ‘recreational’ spaces closed due to COVID-19 response. The CGN had already planned a meeting to develop protocols for community gardens in light of public health recommendations—and immediately organized a petition to encourage the province to move community gardens to the list of essential food services. Check back here for updates.

Open Letter Calling on Province to Identify Community Gardens as Essential Food Service

Policy Papers

The Community Growing Network cooperated with student researchers Becky Ellis and Julia Laforge throughout 2017 to create policy position papers, in order to identify gaps, set direction and strength the Ontario food system. You can view the papers and one page summaries below:

Full paper: Engaging Communities Through Community Gardening (Research 2017)

One page summary from the Bring Food Home 2017 conference: Engaging Communities Through Community Gardening

Full paper: Strategies for building partnerships for Community Gardens (2017)

One page summary from the Bring Food Home 2017 conference: Addressing concerns and strategies for building partnerships for Community Gardens