Northampton Community Garden


Closing the Garden to Non-Registered Gardeners

In our ongoing efforts to keep the Garden open, create a safe environment for gardeners and minimize the number of people in the Garden in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in response to increased reports from gardeners about theft in their plots, we requested that we be able to close the Garden to everyone except registered gardeners. Yesterday, the City approved our request.

This means that, as of today, only registered gardeners,
their co-gardeners and immediate family members
are allowed to be in the Garden.

  • Yes, the dumpster will still be taken care of.
  • Yes, we will have straw delivered.
  • Yes, gardeners may hire people to till/help with their gardens, but they must oversee those individuals.

To help all of us enforce this new policy, we will also begin
issuing laminated Garden ID cards to all gardeners
and co-gardeners early next week.

  • Please keep your 2020 Garden ID card with you at the Garden at all times. It will be designed so you can wear it on a lanyard, keep it on your keyring or in your pocket/wallet. Laminating them will make them both sturdy and waterproof.
  • Your entire family does not need individual ID cards. Just one per family and one for your co-gardener if they’re not a family member.
  • If you are gardening as a group, like the Master Gardeners and Tree Northampton, we will issue three group ID cards – not one for each individual group member.
  • Please don’t lose your ID cards or lend them to non-gardeners – we will re-issue them only in extreme situations.
  • No, this doesn’t mean that there will be someone at the Garden checking your IDs whenever you come to the Garden.
  • However it does mean that, going forward, if you see someone you don’t know in the Garden walking around/running through/not gardening/potentially cutting someone else’s flowers or getting ready to take something else – you can remind them that the Garden is closed to outside visitors and ask to see their Garden ID card.
  • If they didn’t know the Garden was closed or don’t have a Garden ID card (so they are not a registered gardener), politely ask them to leave the Garden – even if their purpose for being in the Garden is benign.
  • If they make excuses (e.g. “visiting a friend’s garden”), or otherwise resist or refuse to leave, they will now officially be trespassing. Please call the police at 587-1100 to report the incident.

Here’s the process as we get the Garden closure in place

Today

  • We have posted the first round of laminated signs from the City Parks & Recreation Department advising visitors, runners, dog walkers, bikers and all others that the Garden is closed to everyone who does not currently have a plot at the Garden for the season. This policy will continue until further notice. (Linda, Blaise & Larri)
  • We are sending out this, all-gardener email, advising you all of this new update. (Larri, Betsey, Garden Committee)
  • We have sent out an email to the Village Hill resident groups advising them about this update to the Garden’s COVID-19 rules. (Arlene)

On Monday/Tuesday:

  • We will finish laying out and will laminate sheets of ID cards with gardeners’ names and plot #s. (Ann-Marie, Betsey & Larri)
  • We will prepare the cards (cut and hole punch) and the Rec. Dept. will begin mailing them out to gardeners. (Rec. Dept. & Larri)
  • We will add additional signs around the Garden. (Linda, Blaise, Larri)

On Tuesday:

  • Orange barricades and/or barrels will be placed at the Garden entrance closest to Village Hill, along the east road and along the back road with signs advising of the Garden’s closure. Similar barriers & signs are already in place at the other end of the Garden to close down the “not-a-dog-park.” (DPW)

REMINDER – Other Garden Events

  • For now, the dates for Provisional Inspections, the Clean Plant Sale, and all other Garden events will remain the same.
  • We will get back to you next week about possible timelines for having straw and compost delivered. Those deliveries will definitely need to be separate events this year.
  • Remember that all dates and upcoming events are subject to change depending on the progression of the coronavirus and the federal, state and city policies put in place in response to it.

REMINDER – Garden Committee Meetings

  • Garden Committee meetings, at least through April, will also be conducted digitally and not in person.
  • If you have something to discuss with the Garden Committee please email us or wait until we are back into our regular monthly meeting schedule.

We will continue to be in touch with new information as COVID-19 regulations, which are relevant to the Garden, continue to change and unfold. We understand this is an extreme measure, but the world is in an unprecedented place right now. Once, again, our objective is to continue to work with the City and keep the Garden open for gardeners.

We’ve also begun printing/posting Garden emails on the covered tool shed bulletin board and on the Master Gardener kiosk board so everyone gets the information.

Please stay safe and let us know if you have questions.

Larri Cochran & Betsey Wolfson
for the Garden Committee


Updates for Mid-April

Here’s the latest information about things happening at the Garden and a reminder that the Health Dept.’s request for limited time at the Garden is still in place. Please do what you need to do in your plots and then go home.

As much as we’d like it to be, this is not a time to socialize at the Garden. Remember that, as we explained in the last post, all events at the Garden, including picnics, parties, bird & butterfly walks, workshops & classes, etc. – have all been cancelled. Even small events of less than 10 people are prohibited until further notice.

Water is On and the Dumpster is in Place

  • We know the dumpster is about 20ft further east that it should be. They’ll move it to its regular place in two weeks when they come to empty it.
  • The water is on, but hoses won’t be installed until late April or early May. Hoses get handled a lot and thus are potential vectors for the virus. So to keep everyone’s exposure to a minimum, we’ll hold off on installing them for a few more weeks.
  • Please remember to wash your hands! We’ve ordered nylon mesh bags to hold bars of soap and will attach them to all the spigots as soon as they come in. Until then please bring your own soap or hand sanitizer with you to use when you enter the Garden and before you leave.

Tool Shed Closure

  • Guidance from the CDC and other agencies continues to report varying lengths of time that the coronavirus is able to remain alive on different surfaces including steel, plastic, wood, and cardboard. In some cases it seems to be hours and on other surfaces it might be days.
  • That means that gardening tools & equipment may be carriers for live virus whether someone used them this morning or days ago. So the tool shed will remain closed.
  • We understand this will be a hardship to some gardeners, but our greater concern is everyone’s health, keeping the Garden as safe as possible, and in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • We’ll open it back up as soon as we know it’s safe to do so.

Gardening Gloves & Masks

  • Please remember to wear gloves while you’re working at the Garden – for your own safety and that of other gardeners.
  • Washing your gloves in hot, sudsy water in between wearings will help kill any virus you might have picked up.
  • If you don’t have gloves, can’t afford them or are otherwise unable to get out to a store to get a pair, please contact Larri & Betsey at noho-garden@googlegroups.com.
  • We have washable gardening gloves that we will give you. Let us know what size you need (unisex sizes: S, M, or L) and we’ll work out a way to get a pair to you as quickly as we can.
  • The state of Massachusetts now requires that residents wear masks any time we’re outside. We can’t provide masks for you, because we haven’t been able to source them, but we urge you to follow this rule when you’re at the Garden.

Portable Toilet

  • We have no plans, at this time, to have the portable toilet delivered – because there’s no way to sanitize them after every use. So they become potential sources of live virus.
  • We understand not having the portable toilet will limit time at the Garden for some gardeners. But we need to prevent the virus from being spread at the Garden in every way we can.

So please plan your visits accordingly!

Limiting Outside Visitors to the Garden

As City parks and recreation spaces have been closed to prevent group gatherings (including the “not-a-dog-park” to the immediate West of the Garden), we have worked to keep the Garden open for gardeners. But we have no way of preventing non-gardeners from walking through the Garden.

We (both the Garden Committee and a few gardeners) have, however, sent out numerous emails to different groups urging non-Noho CG gardeners not to come into the Garden until the restrictions have been lifted. Because so many people from Village Hill visit the Garden, we have sent out a number of emails to groups there, as well.

  • We’ve said that, if they must come to the Garden, they can walk along the back road or around the perimeter of the Garden.
  • We’ve also explained that the presence of outside individuals (not wearing masks or maintaining social/physical distance) is potentially dangerous to gardeners working in their plots at the Garden. And, if there are too many people in the Garden, we run the risk of having the Garden closed.

So please urge your non-Noho CG gardener friends to refrain from visiting the Garden until the shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted. And, if you see people in the Garden who don’t have plots, gently ask them to walk only around the perimeter of the Garden.

Social/Physical Distancing and COVID-19 Community Behaviors

We know we’ve all heard more about social/physical distancing than we ever wanted to hear. But, we still need to be mindful of how we interact with each other when we’re working at the Garden.

The Garden can seem like a big open place, but gardeners often end up in close proximity to each other as they talk, walk to their plots/cars, carry things to the compost piles & dumpster, fill watering cans, etc.

Because the virus that causes COVID-19 seems to spread by close human interaction, we all need to remember to maintain a distance of 10ft or more from each other while we’re at the Garden.

Please respect the boundaries of other gardeners as we all figure out how to move through this situation.

And please, if you aren’t feeling well, don’t come to the Garden.

You can refer to CDC guidelines to better understand how the virus is spread, how to protect yourself, how to protect those around you and what to do if you get sick.

New Plots for New Gardeners

No new gardener registrations will be processed until at least the first part of May.

The City Health Dept. has said that we need to keep the potential number of gardeners who might be in the Garden at one time down to a minimum. So we won’t be able to add new gardeners until those restrictions are lifted.

Also, City offices are closed and/or most staff members are working from home without full access to the software & systems necessary for processing new registration forms.

REMINDER – Garden Committee Meetings

Garden Committee meetings, at least through April, will be conducted digitally and not in person.

If you have something to discuss with the Garden Committee please email us or wait until we are back into our regular monthly meeting schedule.

REMINDER – Other Garden Events

For now, the dates for Provisional Inspections, the Clean Plant Sale, and all other Garden events will remain the same.

We will get back to you next week about possible timelines for having straw and compost delivered. Those deliveries will definitely need to be separate events this year.

Remember that all dates and upcoming events are subject to change depending on the progression of the coronavirus and the federal, state and city policies put in place in response to it.

We will continue to be in touch with new information. We’ve also begun printing/posting Garden emails on the covered tool shed bulletin board and on the Master Gardener kiosk board just so everyone gets the information.

Please stay safe and enjoy the Spring weather!

Larri Cochran & Betsey Wolfson
for the Garden Committee


COVID-19 Policy Update

Notice from Northampton Parks and Recreation

The City of Northampton is monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic closely and working with public health officials to reduce its spread. The City urges residents to practice good health habits, stay home when you or a member of your household is sick, keep a safe physical distance from other people, and take other precautions to protect yourself and others from the virus.

Our Community Garden provides many residents opportunities for physical exercise and, most importantly, the ability to grow food for themselves and their families. We are reminding all gardeners to exercise caution as you begin to work in your plots to prepare for this year’s growing season.

For the time being, the Community Garden on Burts Pit Road will be allowed to remain open. But, we need your cooperation in order for the Garden to remain open this season.

Please, read carefully and follow these guidelines:

  • Through at least the month of April, please limit your time in your plots to the minimum amount of time you need to be there — but not more than two hours per day.
  • The Health Department and Parks and Recreation Department want to make sure the number of gardeners on site at any time is kept to a minimum, to keep us within Governor Baker’s guidelines.
  • Please remember that, for everyone’s safety, this is a time for physical distancing, not a time for social interactions at the Garden — even as we’re all happy to greet our Garden neighbors after a long, challenging Winter.
  • All events at the Garden, whether by gardeners or those from outside are prohibited. This means no picnics, parties or other gatherings, no bird or butterfly walks, no workshops – even if those gatherings have less than 10 people.
  • STAY HOME if you are showing any symptoms or if you’ve been in contact with someone who is sick. Even if it’s just a stuffy nose, please stay home.
  • We also encourage gardeners to STAY HOME if you are considered more vulnerable to exposure to the virus (older adults and people of any age who have known underlying medical conditions).
  • WEAR GLOVES while you are on site and gardening.
  • Everyone should WASH THEIR HANDS upon entering the garden and upon exiting. For the time being, please bring your own soap
  • WEAR A MASK at the Garden if you have one.
  • Practice PHYSICAL DISTANCING and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • BRING YOUR OWN TOOLS. The tool shed will remain locked until further notice.

Please stay safe and remember that the virus can be passed even by people not showing symptoms.

And, please, stay home as much as possible!

From Northampton Parks and Recreation Director, Ann-Marie Moggio, and
Larri Cochran and Betsey Wolfson, for the Northampton Community Garden Committee


March 19, 2020 Update

Dear Gardeners,

Here’s the latest information about things happening at the Garden, a request to help keep the Garden safe, and a reminder about changes in planned Garden events.

Of course, all of this is due to the Massachusetts State of Emergency and the City of Northampton’s COVID-19 response. As you are all aware, the situation with the coronavirus continues to evolve and there are no firm dates for when the current restrictions will be lifted.

New Plots for Current Gardeners

  • The closure time for the Northampton Rec. Dept. has been extended to three weeks and could possibly be longer.
  • With no one at the office there is no way to process registration forms or payments, so we are also unable to assign new plots to current gardeners at this time.
  • As soon as we know the Rec. Dept. will be re-opening, we will begin to reach out to everyone who has requested additional or new plots for this year.
  • It’s always a lengthy process, but we will still contact all current gardeners who indicated they would like an additional or new plot before we begin to register new gardeners.

Tool Shed Closure

  • Guidance from the CDC and other agencies has suggested varying times that the coronavirus is able to remain alive on different surfaces including steel, plastic, wood, and cardboard. In some cases it seems to be hours and on other surfaces it might be days.
  • That means that gardening tools may be carriers for live virus whether someone used them this morning or days ago.
  • Until we have more science-based information about the virus and understand how best to manage tool use, we will be closing the tool shed.
  • We understand this will be a hardship to some gardeners, but our greater concern is everyone’s health, keeping the Garden as safe as possible, and in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

Social Distancing and COVID-19 Community Behaviors

  • As the entire country is currently in some form of self-isolation, we are still encouraged to “get outside, take walks, garden.” However, we need to be mindful of how we interact with each other when we’re doing those things.
  • The Garden can seem like a big open place, but gardeners often end up in close proximity to each other as they talk, share tools, etc.
  • Because the virus that causes COVID-19 seems to spread by close human interaction, we all need to remember to maintain a distance of 6ft or more from each other while we’re at the Garden.
  • Also, please don’t share tools. Remember to wear gloves and to wash them.
  • And please respect the boundaries of other gardeners as we all figure out how to move through this situation.
  • You can refer to CDC guidelines to better understand how the virus is spread, how to protect yourself, how to protect those around you and what to do if you get sick.

New Gardener Sign-Up Day Has Been Cancelled

New Gardener Sign-Up Day, which was scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 21st has been cancelled. And all new gardener registrations will be postponed for at least three weeks.

The registration period for new gardeners, when it happens, will be handled electronically, on an individual basis and through the Rec. Dept. There will not be a single event.

We’ll send out and post more details as we have them.

New Gardener Orientation Has Been Cancelled

New Gardener Orientation has also been cancelled. Again, once the COVID-19-related meeting restrictions have been eased or lifted, we will re-evaluate the needs of our new gardeners and plan an orientation or informational meeting accordingly.

Right now we have no idea when that might be.

Garden Committee Meetings

  • Garden Committee meetings, at least through April, will also be conducted digitally and not in person.
  • If you have something to discuss with the Garden Committee please email us or wait until we are back into our regular monthly meeting schedule.

Other Garden Events

  • For now, the dates for Opening Day, Provisional Inspections, the Clean Plant Sale, and all other Garden events will remain the same.
  • However everything is subject to change depending on the progression of the coronavirus and the federal, state and city policies put in place in response to it.

We will continue to be in touch as soon as we have new information. Stay safe, wash your hands frequently and remember that Spring begins on TOMORROW!

Larri Cochran & Betsey Wolfson
for the Garden Committee