Concord, NH – NHTI, Concord’s Community College, announced with regret today that it will temporarily close its campus community garden (known as the Sycamore Community Garden) as it readies the campus to serve as an Alternative Care Site (ACS) for COVID-19-positive patients. The ACS is expected to accommodate up to 300 patients, as well as numerous front-line healthcare providers and other site staff.
The college also expects the NH Department of Fish and Game to close the boat launch on campus early this week.
Increasing numbers of people have been congregating at the sites, and both campus security and local law enforcement are stretched thin.
“At this time, the needs of the COVID-19 patients and caregivers are paramount to the public health of our community,” said Shannon Reid, CCSNH Director of Communications and Public Information Officer for NHTI’s ACS Incident Command Team. “We look forward to re-opening both sites when it is advisable to do so from a public health and safety standpoint, and we regret the loss of the recreational site as well as the gardens, particularly during what is likely to be an early planting time.”
Reid said the Sycamore Community Garden board is in the course of notifying those who use the site of the closure and the reasons for it, through phone calls, emails, social media posts and signs posted at the site, and relying on interpreters and word of mouth. Some of that outreach is still ongoing as many users of the gardens do not speak English or have access to email. Part of the board’s communications included that it is currently exploring alternatives, such as home-based container gardening or use of another site if safety and social distancing concerns can be addressed.
“In the Sycamore community garden, gardeners share space, share tools and a well, which unfortunately also equals sharing health hazards,” said Reid.
Natalie Laflamme, president of the SCG board, said that the board understands that the needs of pandemic preparedness outweigh other considerations while the state is under a public health crisis. “The gardens have been a wonderful resource and we hope to find alternatives for the near term. We fully support the decision to suspend access for now, a decision designed to keep people safe and make sure the campus can accommodate patients and medical providers during this health emergency. We certainly hope this garden, like so many aspects of our pre-pandemic lives, will soon be accessible the way it was before.”