COVID-19 and the Permaculture Association response
Updated 4th June 2020
We know that this is a worrying time for many people and we want to help. At this time of crisis, permaculture holds a strong and simple message about the values and ways of working we need to get through it: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares.
It's time to look after each other, think about what we really value, and see how we can come out of this stronger and more resolved to create a world that really works for every person and all of life.
The Permaculture Association is continuing to provide all of its existing services with the exception of events, which are now likely to happen online instead.
Useful links and resources
If you are not sure what you need to do, there are some really useful resources available:
HMRC Coronavirus Tax Helpline: 0800 015 9559
For community gardens (see bottom half of page in particular)
If you have anything to add please send it through.
Special notes for permaculture educators, growers and projects
We have been unable to find any specific advice for adult educators or projects running public gardens (if you have a link please share it). Our advice remains that all non-essential activity should cease until we reach 'Step 3' of the Government's lockdown strategy (4th July or later).
If your business needs people on site to function (e.g. horticulture) then follow the government’s guidelines on rigorous and regular hygiene and distance guidelines i.e. 2 metres, and ensure that anyone that shows symptoms does not come to work or volunteer. We still need to grow food and we have sought guidance on this area from Defra and will share what we find. See links above for financial support options.
We are aware that working in home gardens and on allotments has not been prohibited, as long as you follow the basic guidelines of physical distancing of 2m (unless gardening at home with members of your household.)
If you have upcoming courses or have already started one, the most important thing is to talk to your students as soon as possible. You could do this with an online meeting and discuss options together. Usually, it makes sense to postpone rather than cancel courses or events, with refunds offered for people unable to change dates.
Projects in public spaces
The latest guidance says this about public spaces, which could include community gardens and similar projects, if they could reasonably fit into the category of ‘outdoor public spaces’:
“SAGE advise that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, so the Government is updating the rules so that, as well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors subject to: not meeting up with anymore than one person from outside your household; continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household; good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces; and those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance.”
Step 3 of the Government’s easing the lockdown, is set to happen on 4th July or later, so we would suggest that whilst core maintenance of a project can continue to occur now, and gardens that fit within the definition of ‘outdoor public space’ could have visitors e.g. people wandering through an open forest garden within a public park, we do not yet advise projects to open to the public for visitors or volunteers until at least the 4th July.
"COVID-19 Secure" guidelines (from HM Gov strategy doc)
Since mid-April an extensive programme of engagement has been underway between Government, the Health and Safety Executive, the public health authorities, business representative groups, unions, employers and local authorities, to agree the best way to make workplaces less infectious.The guidelines will be based on sound evidence -from what has worked elsewhere in the world, and the best available scientific theory. The most important guidelines people can follow to stay safer outside their homes are attached at Annex A. For example:
- Individuals should keep their distance from people outside their household, wherever possible. Transmission is affected by both duration and proximity of contact; individuals should not be too close to other people for more than a short amount of time. Public Health England recommends trying to keep two metres away from people as a precaution.
- It remains essential to keep hands and face as clean as possible. People should wash their hands often, using soap and water, and dry them thoroughly. Touching of the face should be avoided. Hand sanitiser should be carried when travelling and applied where available outside the home, especially when entering a building and following contact with surfaces. Clothes should also be washed regularly, as there is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics.
- It is possible to reduce the risks of transmission in the workplace by limiting the number of people that any given individual comes into contact with regularly. Employers can support this where practical by changing shift patterns and rotas to keep smaller, contained teams. Evidence also suggests the virus is less likely to be transmitted in well-ventilated areas. In addition to COVID-19 Secure guidelines for workplaces, the Government will consult on and release similar guidelines for schools, prisons, and other public spaces.
Looking after ourselves and others
At this time, it's really important that we all look after our health - mental and physical - and look after each other too. It's good to focus on the things we can do, rather than on every news update. Take regular exercise. Talk to a friend, colleague or family member and ask for help if you feel you are struggling.
Support for members
One of the things we are good at at the Permaculture Association is online working, it is one of the areas that we can use to support members. We host regular Educator Monthly Online Gatherings (MOGs), now extended to every 2 weeks. Building on the success of those calls we are also now hosting:
- Monthly online calls for LAND Centres, groups and projects to share and discuss challenges and how we can respond. So far we have had very rich discussions and project presentations from Hidden Mill and the Foxhill Project.
- Monthly online calls for members to share ideas and mutual support, with a topic for each session.
- Details of both calls are sent to members by email.
If you are not a current member, you can join the Permaculture Association today.
Please support our work with a donation
Covid-19 is going to put the Permaculture Association under a lot of pressure. Events will be postponed and it will be hard to push some of our existing plans while everyone is focussed on COVID-19. We were planning a donations drive before COVID-19 came along. It looks like it will now be essential. Watch out for our ‘£20 more in 2020’ campaign, or get in early by helping with a donation now if you can!