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  • "Truth be told, I really like riding my bike. I like it so much that I have spent nearly a cumulative year of my life on cycling holidays, and in the first week of May I had the pleasure of adding one more feather to my cycling cap."

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  • We're excited to be taking part in Ontario's Agriculture Week celebrating farmers, growers and producers!

    October 6 to October 12 2014

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  • "Imagine my surprise on moving to Toronto to find that the city not only contains a giant ravine system—our equivalent to the canals of Venice—but that the rivers running through it also contain fish; quite a lot of them."

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Thoughts about our 2013/2014 Annual Report


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Our Annual Reports are published in full on our Annual Reports page

Our 2013/14 Annual Report was released earlier this month. The Report, which highlights the work of both the Greenbelt Fund and the Greenbelt Foundation, demonstrates that our 9th year has been a tale of growth and success.

The growth we are seeing with the Greenbelt in our urban river valleys is perhaps one of the greatest highlights of this year. Throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area we are seeing the protection of the world’s largest greenbelt become even more far-reaching and holistic than ever. Every single jurisdiction in talks about including their urban river valleys has continued to push forward.

We are also energized by the ongoing successes of our grantees. One of my favourite stats from this year’s report: for every $1 invested by the Fund, our grantees increase local food sales by $7. 

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Toronto Star Series: Where will the wild things go?

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Act natural: Paul Harpley, a Georgina resident and naturalist, stands among the trees in the Greenbelt near Lake Simcoe.

Every Sunday from September 14th to October 17th we'll be publishing a Greenbelt-focused article by veteran Toronto Star journalist John Barber. The articles, which will first run in the Toronto Star on the Saturdays preceding our posts, cover a range of topics relevant to the Greenbelt as it exists today, and to the challenges it may face in the future. On the Wednesdays following each of Barber's articles, we'll be using his pieces as a conversation catalyst in an evening Twitter Party from 8pm to 9pm.

Where will the wild things go?

Preserving room for wildlife in the shadow of Greater Toronto a constant struggle

Photo Credit: Aaron Vincent Elkaim
By: John Barber

Looking at most maps of Ontario's Greenbelt, the innocent observer will see a great bulge of protected countryside in its middle – a 4,000 square kilometre tract stretching from Scarborough all the way to the southern shores of Lake Simcoe.

But looking at the detailed map artist and naturalist Paul Harpley unfolds in his office in Georgina, near Simcoe's south shore, a whole new picture emerges. Here green gives way to gray – large blocs of forest and wetland set aside for major urban development. And this is the map that matters.

In Georgina's Official Plan, the village of Pefferlaw, population 3,000, is slated to grow to the size of Orillia, population 30,000 – and virtually all of that growth will occur in the untouched forests and wetlands of the Greenbelt. Nearby Sutton is slated for similar expansion. Just to the west, residents are fighting a losing battle against the construction of a 500-acre, 1,000-home subdivision in a provincially significant wetland that is likewise part of the Greenbelt but exempt from protection. The barricade of green is riddled with loopholes.

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Making it easier to build on-farm developments

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How can we make the process easier for farmers to get the necessary stamp of approval for on-farm developments?

That question formed the basis of recent workshop we hosted in collaboration with the Durham Region and the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance.

The September 26th event, “Streamlining the processes for agricultural applications to municipalities and Conservation Authorities (CAs)”, was well attended by farmers, representatives from a range of municipal departments, CA representatives, and staff from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The result was productive information sharing among diverse stakeholders about challenges and opportunities as well as ways to simplify and otherwise improve processes.

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#Fall4Ravines Photography Exhibition

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Fall is here, and Toronto’s ravines are at their most stunning. Out of sight and out of mind for much of the year, during fall the ravines force themselves back into the public consciousness. They catch our eye as we cross the Bloor Viaduct; turn our heads as we drive along the Don Valley Parkway; and keep us guessing as to the timing of the annual salmon run.

To celebrate their central place in Toronto’s “emotional geography”, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and Patagonia Toronto are launching a call for submissions for a special photography exhibition illustrating the ravines: #Fall4Ravines. 

Submit your best shot of Toronto’s ravines on Instagram using the hashtags #fall4ravines and #lovetheravines before October 29, and you could see your work on display at Patagonia’s store in Toronto’s Fashion District, from November 6 to December 5.

The exhibition will run from November 6 to December 5 at Patagonia's store in Toronto's Fashion District (500 King St West). A panel of judges will select the best entries:

The show will be curated by Phil Anderson, Executive Director of Gallery 1313. 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, Patagonia Toronto and members of the Love the Ravines coalition are seeking entries for a curated exhibition of photography illustrating the city’s unique ravines in the context of a rapidly urbanizing and expanding Toronto.The exhibition will hang from November 6 to December 5 at Patagonia Toronto (500 King St. West), viewable during store hours. A reception will be held on December 3 at 5-7 p.m.

Entries are to be submitted using Instagram and tagged with the hashtags #fall4ravines and #lovetheravines. Only submissions tagged with both hashtags will be accepted. All submissions will be uploaded onto www.lovetheravines.com.

Deadline for submissions: October 29, 2014. Entries will be selected by a judging panel and curated by Phil Anderson, Executive Director of Gallery 1313. Accepted entrants will be notified by October 31, and are required to submit a high resolution print of their photograph ready to hang on November 5. Prizes will be awarded to winning entries.

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Celebrating Ontario Agriculture Week 2014

   

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The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is excited to be taking part in Ontario Agriculture Week from October 6-12, 2014. 

Organized by Foodland Ontario with Farm and Food Care, Agriculture Week celebrates Ontario's farmers and the over 200 commodities they produce. 

Throughout the week, we're going to be talking about, thanking, and celebrating the many growers and producers that make Ontario's Greenbelt great.

Whether you're actively involved in the sector or just want to learn more about the food you're eating and its journey from the farm to your plate, we'd love you to be part of the conversation. 

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Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages

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Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages

The latest study from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation captures the changes in agriculture from 2001 to 2011 and highlights the natural and locational advantages of farming in Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The report, Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages, outlines changes in agriculture over time in the Greenbelt, compared to the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ontario. Using data from Statistics Canada’s 2001, 2006, and 2011 Census of Agriculture, the paper looks at key variables such as number of farms, area farmed, use of farmland, production levels, and farm revenue.   

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Toronto Star Series : Ontario’s vital watershed facing new risks

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Every Sunday from September 14th to October 17th we'll be publishing a Greenbelt-focused article by veteran Toronto Star journalist John Barber. The articles, which will first run in the Toronto Star on the Saturdays preceding our posts, cover a range of topics relevant to the Greenbelt as it exists today, and to the challenges it may face in the future. On the Wednesdays following each of Barber's articles, we'll be using his pieces as a conversation catalyst in an evening Twitter Party from 8pm to 9pm.

Ontario's vital watershed facing new risks

Limiting suburban sprawl is key to preserving crucial water supply

Photo Credit: David McCaig
By: John Barber

Standing amid wildflowers at the edge of a pond deep in Hamilton's Dundas Valley, skirted on three sides by the forested walls of the Niagara Escarpment – and with a curious young raccoon distracting his audience – Alan Hansell runs through a depressing litany of environmental insults. As leader of the Stewards of Cootes Watershed, a group dedicated to rehabilitating the 22 creeks that spill over the escarpment and drain into Cootes Paradise at the westernmost end of Lake Ontario, Hansell wants his small flock of litter-picking volunteers to know what they are really up against.

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Toronto Star Series: This fall we're making headlines and tweeting all about it

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Join us for tonight's Twitter Party! It's on the Funbelt: Natural Areas in the Greenbelt at 8:00 PM EDT. RSVP and follow #ONGreenbelt. 






This fall the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation launched an exciting partnership with the Toronto Star.

From September 13th to October 22nd, the Greenbelt is being featured in a 6-part article and Twitter Party series.

For 6 weeks veteran journalist John Barber is presenting his unique take on a Greenbelt issue. Barber's columns are published in the Toronto Star on the Saturday, they're re-posted on our website on the Sunday. And, this is the best part, each week we're using Barber’s article as a catalyst for a Wednesday evening Twitter Party.

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Prairie Day 2014 : Celebrating the Rice Lake Plains / Alderville Black Oak Savannah

 

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The day dawned grey and overcast on September 20th, 2014 for the 8th Annual Prairie Day at Alderville Black Oak Savanna Ecology Centre, a 30-minute drive north of Cobourg. Despite the ominous weather, the event started off well with a smudging ceremony from the Alderville First Nation, as well as speeches carrying messages of hope and regeneration.

The savanna landscape visible now is a testament to the incredible efforts and collaboration of many groups working as part of the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative: Alderville First Nation, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, Environment Canada, and more.

In 2002, the tallgrass prairie ecosystem was a remnant of a formerly thriving, 100,000 hectare vegetation community throughout Southern Ontario. Today, just 3 percent of the original tallgrass prairie and black oak savanna remains, with Alderville a gem in this crucial network of endangered ecosystems. With diligence, care, and cooperative work, the tallgrass prairie here has grown by 150 hectares in the past decade, with an additional 536 hectares secured for future restoration.

This year the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation was proud to join the efforts of the Rice Lake Plains partners through a $52,000 grant to NCC and Alderville First Nation. This grant supports a year’s worth of activities to connect hundreds of Northumberland residents with the Greenbelt in their backyards, including workshops, field trips, trail launches, and landowner stewardship.

The banner event is Prairie Day.

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Toronto Star Series: Massive bike route to showcase Ontario’s green space

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Every Sunday from September 14th to October 17th we'll be publishing a Greenbelt-focused article by veteran Toronto Star journalist John Barber. The articles, which will first run in the Toronto Star on the Saturdays preceding our posts, cover a range of topics relevant to the Greenbelt as it exists today, and to the challenges it may face in the future. On the Wednesdays following each of Barber's articles, we'll be using his pieces as a conversation catalyst in an evening Twitter Party from 8pm to 9pm.

Massive bike route to showcase Ontario's green space: Opening in 2015, proposed route offers Greenbelt's treasures for all cyclists to enjoy

by John Barber

The fun began at Beamsville, which is not something I ever expected to experience in life. But turning left at Lincoln Avenue changed everything.

Until then, our little troupe of cycling pioneers had been bumping along the broken pavement of Old Highway 8 west through Niagara, squeezed between rushing traffic to the left and soft gravel to the right, and not much enjoying the strip-retail scenery one finds on the fringe of just about every Ontario town. But turning left to begin our ascent of the Niagara Escarpment was like riding through a smash cut in an action movie. Beauty erupted.

It was not as if any of us had doubted it: As volunteers helping to test-ride the new Greenbelt Cycling Route before the signs go up next year, we all knew this vision was there. But as I slowly ascended through the undulating, vine-draped bench lands in a damp mist, it was still a shock to me to realize just how vividly there it really was.

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