Best Practices for Virus Safety at Community Gardens

Tending your community garden plot can be a stress-relieving activity and an important way to supplement your grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health department has assured us that gardeners can continue to use their community garden plots. However, even as the City and County reopen, it is still important to be aware of the potential to spread the virus even if you don’t know you are ill. The following guidelines should still be followed at your garden.


Below are our recommendations for gardening at this time:

  1. Do not come to the garden if you are not feeling well or someone you live with does not feel well.
  2. Do not enter the garden if there are already 10 people there; come back later.
  3. Keep your distance (6 feet or more) from other gardeners. The CDC says this virus can be spread by people without any symptoms. If you need to be within 6 feet of another gardener, wear a mask.
  4. Clean off tool and hose handles before and after use because the virus has been found to survive up to 3 days on hard surfaces. We recommend you bring a towel or rag and use a solution of 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water to wipe down any tools that you use after removing any dirt.
  5. Please wash your hands with soap and water before and after gardening. If soap is not provided then consider bringing some with you.
  6. Use your own hand tools if you have them.
  7. Wear gloves if possible. Although they can spread the virus, they may help you remember not to touch your face.

Community Garden Coalition

We hope you’re able to enjoy spring weather and make use of your gardening opportunity this year, despite the unusual circumstances. Stay safe, respect your fellow gardeners and happy gardening!

Community Gardening While Staying at Home

COVID-19 Update & Gardening Recommendations

Residents of the City of Columbia and Boone County are currently under a “stay at home” order until April 24. Please help mitigate the effects of the new virus by staying at home except for essential activities. (For more details on the order and coronavirus resources, see here.)

We want our gardeners to know that your community gardening activities are considered to be essential because they are for the purpose of food production. City staff have assured us that gardeners can continue to use their community garden plots. However, there are new rules in place.

Here’s what Stephanie Lilly, health educator for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has told us:

“Community gardens provide food, therefore are considered essential. There shall be no more than 10 people working in the garden at a time and shall practice social distancing at all times!”

There is a possible $1,000 fine for violating this rule, which means that gardens should not have any group work days until the shelter in place order ends.


Below are our recommendations for gardening at this time:

  1. Do not come to the garden if you are not feeling well or someone you live with does not feel well.
  2. Do not enter the garden if there are already 10 people there; come back later. According to the Boone County order there is a possible fine of $1,000 if you violate this rule and it is reported.
  3. Keep your distance (6 feet or more) from other gardeners. The CDC says this virus can be spread by persons before they have any symptoms.
  4. Clean off tool and hose handles before and after use because the virus has been found to survive up to 3 days on hard surfaces. We recommend you bring a towel or rag and use a solution of 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water to wipe down any tools that you use after removing any dirt.
  5. Please wash your hands with soap and water before and after gardening. If soap is not provided then consider bringing some with you.
  6. Use your own hand tools if you have them.
  7. Wear gloves if possible. Although they can spread the virus, they may help you remember not to touch your face.

The Community Garden Coalition is still figuring out how to safely facilitate a distribution of cool season transplants, row cover, hoops and additional seeds to member gardens. Stay tuned to news from your garden leader in the coming days!

Community Garden Coalition

We hope you’re able to enjoy spring weather and make use of your gardening opportunity this year, despite the unusual circumstances. Stay safe, respect your fellow gardeners and happy gardening!

Native Plants Can Help Your Garden Thrive

The Missouri Prairie Foundation and the Grow Native initiative have put together a fact sheet about the relationship between native plants, pollinators and fruit and vegetable production. See which native plants attract the pollinators your vegetables need.

Did you know? Native plants help fruits and vegetables thrive. (Handout from Missouri Prairie Foundation.

Perhaps there’s a corner of your garden plot, an area around the edges of the garden or a communal plot that could be home to some of these important native flowers. The CGC can help connect you and your community garden leader with a native plant consultant from the City of Columbia and our group may be able to offer some funding for native plant projects. Just get in touch with us at info@comogarden.org.

2020 Spring Thaw Kick-Off Event Sunday, February 23

girls planting in a raised bed

Spring Thaw Community Gardening Kick-Off

Sunday, Feb. 23
3-5 p.m.
Activity & Recreation Center
Drop in anytime!

The Spring Thaw is the kick-off to the community gardening season. There will be representatives from all the gardens, so you can join a garden as a newcomer or confirm a plot assignment for previous gardeners. Plus, everyone can network and get gardening advice from other gardeners.

There will be educational information about cover cropping and water conservation, and we’ll have a free seeds available for gardeners at member gardens.

If you know someone who’d like to get a community garden plot this year, please share these event details!

Thanks & Happy New Year!

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who supported community gardens during the CoMoGives local donations campaign!!! Whether you were able to give $10 or $200, or even just passed on our message, we are very grateful for your support!

We’re excited about a new year of gardening and hope that we can supply lots of new and continuing gardeners with the means to grow some of their own food in 2020. Our first meeting of the new year happens Wed., January 8 at the Columbia Public Library at 7 p.m. We welcome funding requests from member gardens, and we’d be happy to meet any volunteers who’d like to get involved.

Ann St. gardeners — thank you for sharing the love!

P.S. If you missed the CoMoGives donation deadline of Dec. 31, you can still give to the CGC anytime of year online or with a check via the good old USPS.

Support Community Gardening for Another Season

There are just a few days left to donate to your favorite local organizations through the CoMoGives local giving campaign! Share your support for community gardens in Columbia with a donation by December 31.👍❤️🥕🌱👏
https://comogives.com/product/community-garden-coalition-3/

The CGC has been helping gardens grow since 1983. Here’s a look back at some of the gardens we supported in 2019.

The support we receive from donors like you allows us to fund fences, tools, water, mulch, compost, plants, seeds and equipment at gardens like these. It only takes $10 to show your support for another great year of growing community through gardens.

Thank you for being a part of our community!

Ash Street Garden – A True Community

Hari Poudel at the Ash Street Community Garden

One of the ways that the Community Garden Coalition gets funding for our efforts (besides your generous donations) is through a small grant from the City of Columbia. To receive this grant, we must apply every two years and go through the same rigorous process as agencies with paid employees. Part of the review process includes taking Health Department commissioners on a tour of one of our gardens. This year, Garden Leader Hari Poudel and other gardeners hosted this tour at the Ash Street Garden, and I went along.

That tour was a revelation for me! I wish that everyone could have been along to see how important this garden is to so many people. I always knew that we helped people grow tasty and healthful produce for themselves, family and friends, but I didn’t realize how many people originally from other countries used our gardens to grow their native produce and medicinal plants. According to Hari, there are thirty different families gardening at Ash Street, many of whom came from Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, South Korea and China.

I recently asked Hari if he would mind answering the following questions so more folks could get a glimpse of the Ash Street gardening community.

Q: What inspired you to become the garden leader at Ash Street?

Hari: First, I am very glad to serve as a garden leader in the Ash St garden. The key motivational factor is my intention of serving local communities where I live. Second, when I am at the garden, I feel it is my second home. It is also a place to meet people from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. More importantly, a community garden can serve as a social network place which helps in enhancing social ties and building a greater feeling of community. Lastly, I am able to learn different vegetable farming practices from people from different countries. It’s a great learning opportunity.

Q: Please describe the gardeners at Ash St. and how you think the garden helps them and their families.

Hari: The garden has a broad impact at the community level. About 30 households, including 67 family members, are actively involved in Ash St garden. Gardeners have grown a wide variety of vegetables. More than 50% have been gardening for more than four years. We always have new applicants on our waiting list. The planting season starts right after our garden kick-off day in April and it will go until late October or early November. During my four year experience as a garden leader, I would say more than 90% of the gardeners depend on fresh vegetables for about 5-6 months on the garden. Thus, I would say that our garden has significantly contributed to help in providing fresh vegetables to our gardeners. I am also one of the beneficiaries.


Thanks to Hari and all the gardeners at Ash St., the Health Department commissioners were very pleased with their garden tour, and the City has once again awarded the CGC with a social services grant to continue our support for gardens like these.

CoMoGives logo

This December, you can also show that you support community gardening by making a donation to the CGC through the CoMoGives local giving project. Your dollars go directly to pay for water, tools, mulch and more at gardens like Ash Street. Find our CoMoGives page here, and don’t forget to donate by December 31!