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Coronavirus: Montreal community gardens to reopen May 4, mayor announces

Coronavirus outbreak: Montreal to start reopening community gardens May 4
WATCH: Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced on Thursday that the regional public health department has approved the reopening of community gardens in the city, adding that the reopening will begin on May 4 and that authorities will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the gardens remain a safe place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There was good news Thursday for gardening enthusiasts in Montreal, after the city declared community gardens would open after all.

In April, amid COVID-19 concerns, gardeners received a letter to cease all activities in connection with the community gardens until further notice.

With the season in jeopardy, several online petitions began cropping up asking that collective gardens be declared an essential service.

Proponents argued all it would take to make gardening safe is a few simple measures such as staggered schedules and social distancing.

READ MORE: With community garden season cancelled, members worry about food security

In the current context, gardeners said benefits such as improved mental health and food security from growing your own crops should be taken into account.

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Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante agreed, announcing that gardens would gradually open as of May 4.

“For many people, community gardens are much more than just something to do with your time off,” she said.

“It allows to fill their needs and have access to fresh produce at a low cost, so it [is essential] for us to give Montrealers access to those facilities.”

While the regional department of public health gave the gardens the go-ahead, Plante said safety guidelines such as remaining two metres apart, must be adhered to at all times.

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“There will be people to monitor the places and make sure the recommendations will be followed,” she said.

Coronavirus outbreak: City of Montreal collaborates with community organizations to support food security
Coronavirus outbreak: City of Montreal collaborates with community organizations to support food security

A partnership between the city and the botanical garden, as well as the Espace pour la vie museum, will allow residents to learn more about cultivating their own vegetables in a bid to increase food self-sufficiency.

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“The employees of the botanical gardens will offer their expertise to guide people who are learning,” said Espace pour la vie director Charles-Mathieu Brunelle.

“The summer programming of the botanical gardens will integrate webcasts with our specialists.”

But even more importantly, the botanical garden will help support the efforts of community organizations that work in food security.

“One hectare of gardens will be used for the production of fruits and vegetables,” Brunelle said. “These fruits and vegetables will then be given to community organizations that support people in need.”

READ MORE: Gardening can help you get through coronavirus isolation — here’s how to start

The city is also providing financial assistance to Cultiver Montreal, an organization devoted to promoting all forms of urban agriculture in the Greater Montreal area.

Plante said the organization will be receiving $45,000 in financial support.

“The city has the same willingness to favour the growth of home food production,” she said. “The initiatives of Cultiver Montreal will allow the population to be able to learn about urban agriculture.”

The city isn’t only encouraging residents to grow their own food, it hopes they’ll continue to support local producers, too.

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“More than ever, encouraging our producers and eating locally is essential,” Plante said. “That is why public markets have remained open since the beginning of the pandemic.”

But with nice weather and people likely to flock to public markets, Plante said safety measures will be tightened in order to protect Montrealers.

Social distancing will be in place and access to the markets will be limited by the creation of specific measures.

Plante also reminded shoppers to not forget their face-coverings when they go out.