Community garden in Ajax, Ont., reopens amid coronavirus pandemic

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WATCH: A community garden in Ajax resumed operations Tuesday with new measures in place to protect the health and safety of its gardeners – May 12, 2020

A community garden in Ajax has resumed operations Tuesday but it comes with new measures in place to protect the health and safety of its gardeners.

“I have herbs that I can pick now. I have asparagus, my garlic needs work,” said community gardener Melissa Beynon.

Beynon has been growing at the St. Andrew’s Community Garden for eight years. She says she lives in a nearby apartment and relies on the service.

“Honestly, I don’t think we could put a price on it because it’s not just about growing the vegetables, it’s about the people here, it’s about being in the fresh air. We have a lot of highrises and lowrises here and this is their social life,” said Beynon.

Despite reopening, the 75-plot Ajax community garden has a different feel as you walk in.

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Necessary steps outlined by the province were taken to make it a safe environment.

Barriers have been put up and Gareth Hudson spent part of the morning posting signs.

“The gardeners are only allowed to come in on certain days of the week. We also had to install or build a handwashing station, the tools, we recommend gardeners bring their own, and all the gardeners have been trained on health and safety,” said Hudson, St. Andrew’s Community Garden chair.

While most members are back, Hudson says some are apprehensive about coming out and some are sick. So he’s created a community garden share program to help out.

“We will manage those plots for them and then do contactless deliveries for all the produce grown in all collective plots so that everyone gets an equitable share to supplement their diet,” said Hudson.

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Some of the food will also be donated to local charities.

It’s welcome news for the Ajax Salvation Army, which depends on the garden’s generosity.

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“We receive a lot of non-perishable food items regularly from a lot of donors, so there’s very few places we can get the fresh produce in order to pass out to our clients and there’s some times where the only place we get it from are places like the community garden,” said James Dark with the Ajax Salvation Army.

The gardeners may be a bit late getting into their plots, but there’s just enough time for a fruitful growing season as long as they don’t have to deal with any other setbacks and mother nature co-operates.

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