The Covid-19 guidance for community food growing spaces has been updated to reflect the latest updates to the regulations and the restrictions on travel that were put into law on 20 November.  

Guidance for the safe use of community gardens and allotments

Social Farms and Gardens Scotland are updating members of any changes in the guidance via the SF&G Scotland Facebook page. Through conversations with members  a number of other 'Frequently Asked Questions' have arisen. These are summarised below.

Frequently Asked Questions - covid19 and community gardens & allotments

Thanks to Lou and Karen from Social Farms and Gardens Scotland for sharing these.

As a community gardening group are we exempt from the 2 household 6 people rule?

Many of you have been in touch on this. The exceptions can be tricky to find as we your activities can fall under several themes.

In Tiers 1, 2 and 3 you are exempt where providing voluntary or charitable activity if:

  • the activity is organised by a charity or other not for profit organisation, or club and
  • follows the guidance on community growing spaces.

Phew! But ‘organised’ means just that and includes:

  • risk assessing your activity
  • putting some additional safety measures in place - in line with guidelines
  • recording and communicating this to all who may be on site, including the wider public, and
  • reviewing what you've put in place regularly.

Someone will need to lead on this and take responsibility for this to happen.

We know that many of you lead activity as volunteers and constant adjustment can be overwhelming - we are here to help. Some members have reverted to the 2:6 household rule until the situation improves and keep in touch with their community digitally.  

What does the tier system mean for us? Has anything changed?

Currently Level 1, 2 and 3 allow organised outdoor activity.

In Tier 4 areas organised activity is not permitted but those providing charitable or voluntary services are exempt. Read more here - Restrictions on public gatherings outdoors in Level 4:Section 12.  

What does a basic risk assessment need to include? How can we make it meaningful?  

Key points to think through are general risks and then additional risks due to Covid. A risk assessment should:

  • identify hazards and opportunities for improvements in processes to avoid these
  • consider who might be impacted and put control measures in place to minimise the risk.

You should always include a date to review your risk assessment, particularly at the moment with changes in government guidance and reviews should be carried out on a regular basis.

Once you have identified risks make sure they are documented and shared. The important thing to consider is how to communicate the risks and minimise them. For example:

  • Hazard: transmission of the virus in garden hotspots including gate, tap, tools.
  • Who might be at risk? Visitors and volunteers
  • Controls needed might include wearing gloves, cleansing surfaces, and keeping the gate open.
  • Ways to communicate these steps might include a checklist, a participation agreement that is signed by volunteers before attending and/or running a simple induction session before they start work and, of course you can consider using the safe signage designed for our members and available to download here

Do we have to collect peoples contact details for contact tracing ?

No. It is not a legal requirement for the sector, but some members are keeping records which can also be used to match fund volunteer hours in funding applications. There are comprehensive guidelines here about keeping records which cover how, where and for how long records can/should be kept and also what to do if someone who has attended your site tests positive. If you have a large site accessed by multiple people and you feel there is a transmission risk this could be a control measure that is worth putting in place but one which requires additional thought. 

How are we covered by insurance?  

With projects closing, restarting, changing and adapting practice, it is not business as usual! It is time to review your insurance, which is a vital component of risk management and having a protected, secure site. Any project with one or all of these features will require it:

  • assets
  • inviting people in - and this includes volunteers, staff, and running any type of event.

Ensure you know who is responsible for insurance - it may be your project, or could be a host organisation. While COVID-19 will not require special insurance, the types of coverage you need may differ since you have adapted your operation to it. See here for more information about what to consider, and watch this webinar that we ran for members on Risk, Insurance and Liability. Finally, make sure others in your team can access your insurance information.