COVID-19 and Community Gardens

Community gardens provide us with important access to fresh food in this time of social distancing and economic challenge. Please see the message below from Jennifer Steverson, the City of Austin’s new Community Garden Program Coordinator, for information and guidelines about how to stay safe, continue gardening, and help share our harvest with others.

Stay well!


Hello Community Gardeners!

I am writing with some information and updates related to the COVID-19 concerns that may be helpful in maintaining safe practices in your community gardens and at home.  Please know that we are limiting communications to COVID-related messaging at this point to focus attention on the most important needs and to minimize distraction; however, we hope to be able to provide more/broader information soon. I look forward to meeting you all and working with you! Here are the updates related specifically to the Austin Community Gardens Program, and I have included general resources and information from the City related to COVID-19 below:

City of Austin COVID-19 Updates: http://austintexas.gov/COVID19

Stay at Home – Work Safe Order: http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=337824

Stay at Home – Work Safe Order and Community Gardens

I know that there are a lot questions about how the Stay at Home Ordinance will impact community gardens. The ordinance outlines Essential Activities that are permitted and Essential Businesses during this time. Essential Businesses includes Food Cultivation and Charitable Organizations. You will have access to your gardens during the Stay at Home Order. Please review Section 6-F of the order for more details.

Essential Activities “. . .Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following, “Essential Activities.” These essential activities include:

i.         For Health and Safety. Individuals may engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets) . . .”

ii.         For Necessary Supplies and Services. Individuals may obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, groceries and food . . .”

Essential Businesses include: “Stores that sell Groceries and Certain Other Essential Supplies. Grocery stores, supermarkets . . .farmers’ markets, food banks . . .”

   iii.         Food Cultivation. Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing

   iv.         Social Services and Charitable organizations. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals

Social Distancing Recommendations and Guidelines for Community Gardeners

Please remember to maintain a safe distance when working in the community garden, and follow the guidelines recommended by the CDC and Austin Public Health:

  • Maintain social distancing of at least six feet or more
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, then use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Please keep disinfectant, soap or hand sanitizer in the garden to assist with cleaning and disinfecting. For more specific information on the requirements go the City of Austin website.
  • Please also remember to disinfect tools and surfaces including gate handles, and shed door handles, and hose bibs that are in common areas before and after use.
  • Communicate within your community garden: Please use the bulletin boards and message centers in your gardens to communicate with each other as needed.
  •  If you have gardeners who are elderly, consider designating garden times specifically for them so that they can minimize contact with others.
  • Please also consider calling or texting your members to check on them and see if they need support.
  • Consider creating a schedule if needed to maintain social distancing, especially when it comes to caring for chickens and bees.

Increase Yields and Donate to Local Emergency Food Providers

Here are some online resources that can help you learn more about increasing productivity in the garden and preserving your harvest, which will be extremely helpful in the coming weeks and season. Please consider planting additional food for yourself and to share with those in your neighborhood who may be in need. Please see some links below.

USDA Guidelines for Home Preservation

Agrilife Online Classes: Introduction to Plant Disease Diagnostics

Sharing the Harvest Resources

 

I will reach out again soon with information on more resources. Please feel free to reach out to each other to share best practices. I’m always available to answer questions.

Jennifer Steverson, Environmental Program Coordinator

Community Gardens Program| Natural Resources Division

Jennifer.Steverson@austintexas.gov

Learn more about the Community Gardens Program at

http://www.austintexas.gov/department/city-austin-community-gardens-program

 

 

SFC’s Garden Leadership Training is around the corner 2/26/19 & 2/27/19!

GGG_Joseph De Leon_1

SFC: Garden Leadership Training

This 2-part training is for teachers, parents, and community members interested in starting (or reviving) and sustaining a school or a community garden. The training will cover key components to running a successful garden. Teachers may register for free!

When: Tuesday & Wednesday, February 26 & 27, 2019 6:00-8:00pm

Where: Sustainable Food Center: 2921 E 17th St Bldg C, Austin, TX 78722

Price: $30 (free for teachers & 5 additional need based scholarships are available – please email bianca AT sustainablefoodcenter.org to request a spot) Register here.

Grant Opportunity: 2019 Chronic Disease Prevention Mini-Grant

From the Austin Public Health website:

 

Chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease and diabetes make up nearly three out of five deaths in Travis County.

The good news is that active living, healthy eating, and not using tobacco can help prevent chronic disease. Austin Public Health funds projects to prevent chronic disease in Austin and Travis County. Grants can be up to $2500 with a focus on making a lasting change.

Projects should address health disparities by reaching people who face higher rates of chronic disease (such as people with lower incomes, and people who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Asian American).

Projects should focus on one (or more) of these topics:

  • Active living
  • Tobacco-free living
  • Healthy eating
  • Community gardens
  • Healthy food pantries
  • Breastfeeding support

 

Austin Public Health LogoTo Apply Online Click Here: https://www.healthyplaceshealthypeople.org/mini-grant/

For more information on eligibility requirements, please follow this link: https://www.healthyplaceshealthypeople.org/mycommunity/

City of Austin Soil Kitchen April 14 & 15 and Texas AgriLife Extension East Austin Garden Fair April 14 at Parque Zaragoza

SK_Web_logo_CENTER-2018

Get your soil tested for free (heavy metals and nutrient levels) at the City of Austin Brownfields Office Soil Kitchen event on April 14 & 15 at Parque Zaragoza. Backyard gardeners, school, and community gardens are all eligible to bring samples! For details on how to collect soil samples: http://www.austintexas.gov/soilkitchen

If you’re there on Saturday, April 14, enjoy the East Austin Garden Fair (9am-2pm), which will be full of DIY and educational gardening activities: https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/travis/local-extension-resources/east-austin-garden-fair/

 

Two free Community Garden Trainings Coming up at Sustainable Food Center

GGG_Joseph De Leon_1

Sustainable Food Center’s Garden Leadership Trainings empower school staff, parents, and community members to start and sustain a school or community garden. Registration is required.

Trainings are free and will take place at SFC (2921 E. 17th St., Building C, 787802). We will provide free childcare.

For more details and to register visit SFC’s Classes webpage or contact Bianca Bidiuc Peterson, Grow Local Program Manager, (512) 220-1097, bianca@sustainablefoodcenter.org.

 

Community Gardener Potluck Brunch

aam garden party 13
Photo Credit: ALBERTO MARTINEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Community Gardener Potluck Brunch

Sunday February 25th, 12-2pm

 

What better way to meet and share ideas with your fellow community gardeners than over brunch? The Coalition of Austin Community Gardens is organizing a potluck brunch for community gardeners, graciously hosted by Patterson Park Community Garden. Bring a brunch dish (points for incorporating garden harvest), your own reusable plate/utensils/cup, a lawn chair, and your questions and ideas. We’ll provide coffee! It’s going to be a lovely morning—we hope to see you there!

  • When: Sunday, February 25th 10am-12pm
  • Where: Patterson Park Community Garden, 4200 Brookview Rd., 78722 (off of Airport, just north of 38th ½ St.)
  • What to bring: A brunch dish + your own reusable plate, utensils, cup, and lawn/folding chair.
  • Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/741002749443746/

Grant Opportunity: City of Austin Urban Forest Grant

From the City of Austin website:

The Urban Forest Grant (UFG) has been established to promote conservation and improvement projects that benefit Austin’s urban forest. This program is supported by the Urban Forest Replenishment Fund, which was created to mitigate the impact of tree removals. The UFG enhances the urban forest through projects associated with tree planting, education, public service announcements, award programs, disease control, inventorying, and other related efforts. Individuals, businesses, academic and private institutions, home owners associations, youth groups and non-profit organizations may apply for funding for projects that show a clear benefit to Austin’s urban forest. Please read the application for further information!

https://www.austintexas.gov/page/urban-forest-grant-program