Thursday, 19 March 2020

Message from Scottish Allotment Society

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is constantly evolving. The World Health Organisation has confirmed the outbreak as a pandemic and the UK Government has moved from the 'contain' to 'delay' phase. The Scottish and UK Governments say a larger outbreak is expected and they are preparing for it. Allotments are places in the out doors where it is possible to undertake healthy physical exercise in a communal environment without needing to be physically close to other people. Nevertheless there are issues to be considered both by Allotment Committees and by plot holders.
 
SAGS recommends that allotment associations and local authorities be aware that some members will not be as active within their plot as usual. They may be under self-isolation, unwell, or caring for relatives or friends who need support. The approach to weedy plots, non-attendance on sites and evictions should be relaxed in the light of the situation. It is likely that some people may miss a whole growing season if they are required to stay home for four months. We recommend a positive approach to this situation. If possible an allotment association may be able to arrange for healthy members to spend time maintaining the plots of sick or older members. Many people find the allotment is a place of comfort and have a strong emotional attachment to their plot. SAGS asks local authorities and allotment committees on self managed sites to be aware of this and to consider the implications for mental and emotional wellbeing before issuing warning letters or evictions. 

Plotholders should remember that although the allotment is a relatively wide open empty space it is still not risk free. The virus can live for 24 hours on cardboard (fertiliser boxes?) and 2 to 3 days on steel or plastic (allotment gates? communal taps? communal tools?). So it is important to read the hygiene recommendations in the links at the left and adhere to them rigorously. Take wipes with you to the plot and, for example, consider cleaning tools and/or your hands after opening or closing gates or shed doors that might have been used by others. The virus can also live for several hours on clothing so think about washing your gardening clothing rather than using an overall multiple times.

SAGS sincerely hopes that in spite of the problematic times everyone will have a happy successful growing season this year.

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