City’s park closure is cutting off gardeners from their plants on public plots

City’s park closure is cutting off gardeners from their plants on public plots
Diamond Head Community Garden not closed until Act with Care, Do Not Gather Order is lifted. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - While the city understands the benefits of community gardeners, there are no exceptions to the order, leaving residents with concerns.

With parks closed, gardeners who use community plots were told to harvest what they can and come back once the parks reopen.

Under the city's Act with Care, Do Not Gather order, they aren't even allowed to water their plants.

Tiffany Mathews, who has a plot at Diamond Head Community Garden, said they’re practicing social distancing and healthy habits.

Mathews is asking for an exemption from the park closures, but the city said in a statement that they can’t take chances, and that controlling the pandemic is the priority.

Certainly, the issues raised are not unfounded. However, at this point the City is making no exceptions to the parks closure. We are aware of all of the nuances of the situation (the benefits of gardening, how individual plots promote physical distancing, and the desire to become more food secure/sustainable) and the answer remains the same. The pandemic has taken priority over all park user needs and this has a lot to do with enforcement capability for HPD, as well as the gathering which has been so much of the dialogue focus.
City and County of Honolulu

“It’s sad. I mean it’s like taking food out of my kids’ mouths,” said Matthews. “It’s sad and they were learning to grow their own food, tend to it, they were also learning how to water it, and then take it home and eat it.”

The last time parks had to shut down, the city reversed the order allowing community gardeners to tend to their crops, but the city said there were only 14 cases statewide at that time. Now, that number exceeds 3,300 on Oahu alone.

City officials said they are trying to find a way to keep the plants watered and alive during the closure.

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