Gardening is ‘essential’

Vegetable seedlings await customers at Green Acres Garden and Supply. (Photo by Debbie Arrington)

Local nurseries and community gardens are staying open during stay at home order

In the greater scheme of our new normal, gardening is “essential.”

During what’s usually their busiest tine of the year, several local nurseries are committed to staying open during the coronavirus crisis.

The Plant Foundry in Oak Park and Big Oak Nursery in Elk Grove are both keeping their gates open to the public.

“Fresh air and sunshine may be the answer? Come out to the nursery!” Big Oak posted on Facebook (@BigOakNursery).

“We will remain open and keep you updated as often as possible,” Angela Pratt of The Plant Foundry posted on her nursery’s website, plantfoundry.com. Her Oak Park nursery is offering both curbside service as well as “touchless” home delivery.

High-Hand Nursery (highhandnursery.com) in Loomis canceled its big Wings and Wine fundraiser but is still selling plants and supplies.

The Redwood Barn Nursery in Davis is staying open, too. For customers who don’t want to venture out, the nursery is offering free local delivery with no minimum purchase.

Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery also is staying open and helping gardeners any way it can.

“We believe that retail nursery businesses fit into the ‘essential’ category, since garden centers are part of the food production chain,” nursery owner Quentyn Young posted online. “There will be many home gardeners who, now more than ever, will need to come in to buy food starts, citrus, fruit trees, soils and fertilizer to grow their own food. In order to serve our community in this time of need, we intend to remain open to supply you.”

Green Acres Nursery & Supply, which operates the five largest nurseries in the Sacramento area, is staying open, at least for now. It’s also asking gardeners to browse their stock on line at its website, idiggreenacres.com, for quick pick-up at its sites.

“We are grateful to qualify to remain open,” Green Acres posted on its website. “Nurseries are essential. We sell fruits and vegetables and supplies to maintain basic home operation.”

“At Green Acres Nursery & Supply, we are taking Coronavirus—COVID-19—seriously and would like you to know what you can expect from our family as we take safety precautions and make adjustments for the benefit of our community, our customers, and our employees,” wrote owner Mark Gill. “We are currently open during our normal spring business hours, and evaluating our hours daily. Please check our website for updates.”

Gill pointed out that nurseries are unique businesses. They’re outside and naturally conducive to social distancing.

“Our nurseries sit on acres and acres of open space,” he wrote. “Customers can shop where there’s plenty of room for required social distancing—two arm’s lengths or a minimum of six feet. When paying us a visit we request that you be mindful of fellow patrons and follow this ever important rule.”

Debbie Arrington, an award-winning garden writer and lifelong gardener, is co-creator of the Sacramento Digs Gardening blog and website.

The positives of gardening make it a worthwhile pursuit, perhaps especially during these trying times.

“Gardening is therapeutic; it offers fresh air, exercise, a sense of accomplishment, reduces stress, and so much more,” Gill added. “Spring is in the air, and we hope to help make your additional time at home better by providing you with ways to take advantage of the benefits of gardening.”

Community gardens open, too

As a food source and open space, Sacramento’s community gardens are being allowed to stay open during the coronavirus shutdown.

“The [community] garden is considered a park and open space,” explained Bill Maynard, the city of Sacramento’s community gardens coordinator. “Also in some ways, [the garden is] a food store, so you can go to it.”

Gardeners are asked to be mindful of social distancing while pulling weeds or watering veggies. That shouldn’t be a problem; gardening tends to be a solo activity.

Maynard asked that gardeners also use other precautions, such as bringing their own gloves or tools.

“Wear gloves when using the common tools,” he said. “Wear gloves when touching common things like locks, tables, etc. Wash your hands often! Don’t touch your face.”

Besides the food, community gardens also give gardeners a chance to exercise outside, offering both mental and physical benefits during these stressful times.

On the practical side, gardens need consistent care. If left alone for several weeks during this crisis, weeds would take over and there would be much more work to tackle later. So, Sacramento is encouraging community gardeners to maintain their plots and pull the weeds.

Like many city employees, Maynard will be off work for the next two or three weeks. But he’ll still be gardening.

“Take care and be healthy,” he said. “Eat your veggies!”

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