HARRISBURG - Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) has introduced House Bill 2429
, which would grant a waiver to the governor's COVID-19 Business Closure Order to all lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores that can adhere to the social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), effectively opening them up for in-person operations.
Reps. Kate Klunk (R-York) and Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) are co-sponsors of the bill which aims to help local garden centers supply Pennsylvanians with seeds and plants to grow fresh produce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Wolf administration has expressed support and concern for community gardens as an alternative to our normal food supply chains, which are facing real threats due to the COVID-19 lockdown,” said Diamond. “As such, it makes no sense whatsoever to close down a single garden center in Pennsylvania. House Bill 2429 would ensure they can remain open during this crisis.”
“There are numerous stories of how the shutdown is harming small, family-owned garden centers,” Klunk said. “One such garden center in my district has been in operation for more than half a century. Because of the governor’s forced closure, the owners may have to permanently close the business, which has been their livelihood and a community tradition.”
“The business closures have unnecessarily created winners and losers in all areas of commerce, including in our food supply sector,” Ecker said. “Garden centers are an essential component to an individual families’ food supply and help take the strain off the overall food supply chain.”
While the Wolf administration has issued guidance for how local garden centers should operate amid COVID-19, small garden supply businesses remain closed due to the governor’s business closure mandate.
The Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association has written a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, representing over 15,000 Pennsylvanians who are asking for their local independent family-owned garden centers to be allowed to open. The petition with 15,000 signatures can be seen on www.change.org/OpenPaGardenCenters
The Association also noted that 77% of adults spend time gardening around their homes during the spring season. Most independent family-owned garden centers make up to 75% of their annual revenue during the spring months of April-June.
Private gardens allow families to grow produce that have the potential to last them the remainder of the year, which could be incredibly helpful at a time when big box retail grocers are having trouble keeping shelves stocked.
The Association also pointed out that Pennsylvania’s surrounding neighbor states have all allowed private gardening, including Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.
Representative Russ Diamond - 102nd Legislative District
Representative Kate A. Klunk- 169th Legislative District
Representative Torren Ecker - 193rd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives