How to Pick & Share Safely During COVID

How to “Pre-Pear” for a Pick during COVID-19

Not Far From The Tree (NFFTT), recognizes the unprecedented challenge that the COVID-19 virus presents to the City of Toronto. We support the measures in place to flatten the curve. We are excited to be underway in our 2020 picking season and to provide thousands of pounds of fresh fruit to hundreds of people. However, things will look a little different this summer.

Watch this short clip on how to stay safe while coming together and accessing fresh food.

How to Pick & Share Safely During COVID

Cherry berry season is in full swing! There are 26 picks this week alone, with lots of people coming together to take part in accessing fresh food and fostering sustainability! 🍃And with that, we recognize the challenge that the COVID-19 virus presents. Here's a short video outlining several protocols and best practices to ensure your safety on a pick. Give it a watch before attending a pick to be well pre"pear"ed!

Posted by Not Far From The Tree on Tuesday, June 30, 2020



Fruit Picking and Sharing Guidelines

Mandatory Pre-Registration Practices

The following Pre-Registration Practices must first be met in order for a fruit pick to proceed: 

  1. All fruit pickers and tree registrants must review the COVID-19 Guidelines in order to participate in the 2020 season.
  2. Anyone who is feeling unwell, who has had symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days, who has recently come into contact with someone who has shown symptoms, or is a member of an at-risk group, is not able to host a pick or attend a pick. 
  3. Prior to fruit picks both homeowners and fruit pickers must review the Ontario Government self-assessment tool and ensure they “do not seem to have symptoms or be part of an at-risk group”. Please note if anyone at a pick site displays symptoms, they will be given public health contact information and asked to leave.
  4. Prior to fruit picks both homeowners and fruit pickers must review the Ontario Government self-assessment tool and ensure they “do not seem to have symptoms or be part of an at-risk group”. Please note if anyone at a pick site displays symptoms, they will be given public health contact information and asked to leave.
  5. Contact information for all tree registrants and fruit pickers will be collected via the Fruit Picking Portal. Attendance at each pick will be taken and recorded. This can help public health with tracking if anyone becomes infected.
  6. Cancellation policy adjustment: volunteers will not be penalized for not attending the harvest if they develop any symptoms or an increased risk of COVID-19 prior to the harvest event.

It is important to note that people may be infected with COVID-19 and not show symptoms immediately. Even if participants appear to be healthy and have had no contact with someone who is at risk, it is still absolutely essential to follow physical distancing and sanitation practices. 

On Site Best Practices

Fruit Pickers and tree registrants then must follow the guidelines below for controlling the spread of COVID-19, which includes measures to be taken: Before the Harvest, During the Harvest, Equipment and Sanitization, Fruit Sharing & Donation.

  • Physical Distancing Is in Effect At All Times
    • Unless picking with members of the same household, everyone on a fruit pick must maintain a physical distance of 2 meters/6-feet whenever it is possible to do so while maintaining physical safety. 
    • If volunteers arrive on a site and find they cannot safely maintain 2m or 6ft, they must leave the site temporarily and rotate in and out (at least 6ft of distance must also be maintained while waiting your turn to pick). Volunteers must listen to the instructions of the Pick Leader, and if asked to rotate out if it is deemed unsafe, they are to do so.
    • Volunteers will be encouraged to divide up tasks and complete them individually while social distancing. For example, only one person holds the ladder, one person weights the fruit, etc.
    • There are times that physical distancing will not be possible due to safety concerns, such as holding a ladder – these occurrences are to be limited to only as-needed. 
    • The length of an extended fruit picking pole is an excellent measure of 6 ft, and can be used to visualize proper distance by volunteers at all pick sites. 
  • PPE and Hygiene Requirements for Fruit Pickers: 
    • Wear a face mask or face cloth to prevent droplet spread.  Masks are “Bring Your Own”.
    • Sanitize your hands during the following:  upon arrival on site, any time cross-contamination happens (i.e. after accidentally touching your face or unsanitized items) and departure of site
    • Practice proper hygiene practices (avoid touching your face, ensure sneeze/cough etiquette, properly sanitize hands). Hand sanitizer will be provided on site.
    • All volunteers must have clean, sanitized hands, when handling fruit
    • Bring and use your own gardening gloves, if desired, for cleaning the site of compost materials. If gloves are used, hands should be sanitized before and after using gloves. NFFTT will not be providing communal gardening gloves.
    • Under no circumstances leave any garbage or personal PPE at the fruit pick. You are responsible for packing out your own garbage and disposing of it properly. 
    • Do not enter the tree registrant’s home.  Volunteers are encouraged to use the bathroom prior to attending a pick. Please also bring your own water and snacks. An exception is if access is required through the house, during which physical distancing must be adhered to. Avoid touching any items in the tree registrants home. 
  • Equipment use and Sterilization:
    • Fruit picking equipment provided must be sterilized before each pick AND after each pick with provided sanitization materials in the equipment bin. The Pick Leader will be trained to ensure proper sanitization of equipment has occurred. The virus is easily inactivated by using simple disinfectants such as store-bought disinfectants, and alternatively diluted bleach solution prepared daily.
    • Volunteers will be required to disinfect surfaces on equipment before and after use, including: picking poles and hand shears. Volunteers will be instructed to remove all dirt and organic matter from the surface of tools before sanitizing. Tools must be dry before sanitizing, or the sanitizer will be diluted. 
    • There is to be no sharing of equipment between pickers. All fruit pickers must use only 1 pole, or 1 pair of hand shears provided, or their own equipment from home that was sanitized prior to use. Pick Leader will oversee equipment to ensure there is no sharing between pickers.
    • Ladder use is at the discretion of the individual, and ladder safety procedures must be in effect at all times. Ladders over 6’ tall must be secured by a second person holding the base of the ladder. Ladders under 6’ tall can be used by one person alone, if it is possible to do so safely.  If there is only one ladder, then only one volunteer will climb to the top of the ladder, and only one volunteer will secure the base of the ladder, for the duration of the event. 
    • Under no circumstances is garbage from cleaning products to be left on the site. It must be properly disposed of. 
  • After the Harvest: Fruit Sharing & Donation
    • Volunteers will be expected to bring their own bags to take home their share of the fruit. It’s recommended to bring more than one.
    • The homeowner’s share of the fruit will be left on their porch or where appropriate, to ensure contactless transfer. Under no circumstances will it be handed directly to the homeowner. 
    • Sanitize your equipment and hands upon departure from the site. 
    • Thoroughly wash the fruit before consumption. 

The guidelines can seem overwhelming, so we want to highlight that the most important measures are to adhere to physical distancing, wear a mask to protect others, sanitize your hands often and between cross-contamination of touching equipment, and avoid touching your face. 

Further Reading

Squirrels and Raccoons – The Fruit Bandits of Toronto!

Edible Nuts of Toronto