THE HONOURABLE CAROL MITCHELL
MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS
MARKING THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREENBELT
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2011
Mr. Speaker, this week marks the sixth anniversary of Ontario’s Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt is a critical part of our government’s plan for building healthier communities.
It is a lasting legacy for our children and future generations.
When the McGuinty government created the Greenbelt in 2005, we aimed to preserve
agricultural land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe as a continuing healthy and secure supply
of locally grown food, to sustain the countryside, rural and small towns, and to contribute to
the economic viability of farming communities.
It is a 1.8-million-acre working countryside, protected to ensure Ontarians today, and
tomorrow, can enjoy its benefits.
There are approximately 7,000 farms on the Greenbelt.
Those farms boast some of the most productive land in Canada.
I met a farmer yesterday at OGRA/ROMA who shared with me that this year marks a
milestone. His family began working their farm, located in the Greenbelt, 200 years ago --
and they hope to keep the business in the family for generations to come.
His story demonstrates the perseverance of a farm; the farm family and their love of the land
– a precious natural resource our government thinks should be preserved, though not all
members of this House agree.
Mr. Speaker, with more than half of Greenbelt land being used for agricultural purposes,
Ontarians should be proud of the vast diversity, strong environmental leadership and
economic impact the land and farmers on it provide to the province.
The Holland Marsh houses one fifth of Ontario’s vegetable farms, growing crops such as
sweet corn, pumpkins, carrots, and onions.
And, almost half of Ontario’s fruit farms are located in the Greenbelt, producing cherries,
grapes, and peaches to name a few.
In fact, Niagara’s 2.1 million tender fruit trees produce 800,000 baskets of fruit, which if lined
up, would stretch along the QEW from Kingston to Niagara Falls.
Whether it is fruit, vegetables, livestock, wines, cheeses, grains, or horticultural goods, the
Greenbelt has it all.
Agricultural products grown in the Greenbelt are coveted and celebrated both around the
world and here at home; from Niagara’s iconic peach and renowned ice wines to classic
summer fare like strawberries and sweet corn.
Mr. Speaker, working together with The Greenbelt Fund, our Broader Public Sector
Investment Fund is taking our commitment to Ontario foods even further.
We are helping to connect farmers, food processors, and distributors to increase the amount
of local food served in daycares, schools, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
For example, Cohn Farms is taking an innovative and collaborative approach to supplying the
broader public sector with fresh Ontario produce. They’re working with other producers to
build a co-packing line and expand the diversity of foods they supply.
Or the Vineland Growers Co-op – Ontario’s oldest co-op, and largest packer and shipper of
tender fruit – has been added to the weekly product list of Gordon Food Services, a
distributor who has recently made Ontario food a key priority.
By putting more of Ontario’s fresh, healthy, local food in public institutions, we are investing in
a strong future for our farmers and for agriculture.
Many citizens, municipalities and community groups have been enthusiastic proponents for
expanding the Greenbelt in their communities. They recognize the Greenbelt’s benefits as a
source of healthy local food.
Farmers and urbanites are realizing that they share a future centered on food security and
the ability to grow and consume fresh, nutritious foods. Demand for local food is rising rapidly
and Greenbelt farmers have eight million consumers within half a day’s drive.
Mr. Speaker, the McGuinty government set out six years ago to permanently protect this
spaces…we think we got it right. And so do most people in our province.
An Environics Research poll conducted last year found that 90 per cent of Ontarians support
the Greenbelt, and agree that it is “one of the most important contributions of our generation
to the future of Ontario.”
When agricultural lands are lost to development, they are gone for good, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to close with the words of Eric Bowman, a third generation Greenbelt farmer. He
and his wife run Gallery on the Farm, an organic beef farm. As Eric says, "once you pave it,
it's gone, and you have to conserve this precious land that we're sitting on - not for ourselves,
but for generations down the road."
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.