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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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  • "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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  • "A field guide is a well-known tool, a book, used to help identify things in the environment that may appear similar, but in actuality are quite diverse."

    -- Jenny Chan

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Toronto Star Series: Can our fresh food’s journey stay short for long?

 Food Infograph

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.

Can our fresh food’s journey stay short for long?

Ontario’s Greenbelt farms produce a great variety and abundance of food, but certainty is not on the menu 

In the second installment of a six-part series, journalist John Barber traces the food trail from the Greenbelt to our plates.

By: John Barber

 The view from the hills near the village of Enniskillen is gorgeous in every direction, and on a clear day from some heights you can see a miniature Toronto glinting romantically in the distance. But every afternoon and morning, the city extends and retracts its tentacles: Streams of cars travelling so close to one another on rural roads that from a distance they resemble metallic segmented worms nefariously strangling the open countryside.

“I've had to wait for 35 cars to pass before I can get out of my driveway,” says local farmer Eric Bowman. At 64, Bowman remembers when the best farmland east of Toronto was Scarborough. But the wave of development that engulfed those fields is now lapping at the edge of his own hilltop farm.

When Bowman finally does get out of his driveway, commuters stuck behind him fume at the pace of his tractor. “They're in a big hurry to get nowhere and I'm in a slow hurry to get somewhere,” the lifelong farmer explains. “I get a lot of one-finger waves.”

As it is on every advancing frontier of the 100-mile city, the pressure on the uplands of Durham Region is relentless: Although the extension of Highway 407 further eastward from Toronto will relieve local roads in the near term, letting Bowman and his neighbours out of their driveways, it has already removed 3,500 acres of top-quality, Greenbelt-protected agricultural land from production in Clarington, the township where they farm. And where new highways go, new development almost always follows.

“That scares me – that everything below 407 could become a city,” Bowman says.

The same week we talked, Durham council adopted a report asking the province to implement the first few dozen of the thousand cuts that will ultimately, inevitably, produce that result. All that's standing in the way is provincial legislation, the Greenbelt Act, which is due to be reviewed in 2015.

“The Greenbelt is so important to protect farmland, green space or whatever you want to call it,” Bowman adds. “But governments change, so things can happen. One signature could end it all.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 15, 2014

 

POSSIBILITY GROWS IN ONTARIO’S GREENBELT

New Report Highlights Unique Advantages of Agriculture in the Greenbelt

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: How green is the municipal election landscape?

 GreenbeltMap_web_large.jpg

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.

Toronto Star Series: How green is the municipal election landscape?

by John Barber

Twenty years ago I attended a presentation in Toronto given by an eminent Dutch policy maker on his country's Groene Hart or Green Heart, a huge swath of open countryside hemming in the booming cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, protecting by iron decree the landscape of Rembrandt in the very thick of the most densely populated region of Europe's most densely populated nation.

I wondered aloud whether a similar initiative might one day rescue the rapidly receding countryside surrounding our own Golden Horseshoe.

“No,” the expert replied without hesitating. “It is not possible.” He knew the local ground as well as anyone, and during those dark days nothing was more sacred in Ontario than the right to sprawl. We all nodded our heads in sad agreement.

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Job Posting: Director for Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation office in York Region

Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution for clean air, fresh water and healthy local food.  At 2 million acres, it is the world’s largest greenbelt preserving productive farmland, forests, and wetlands from urban development.

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is an independent, charitable organization dedicated to promoting and sustaining Ontario’s Greenbelt. The Foundation supports work to protect and restore our natural environment, strengthen the agricultural sector, and create a pattern of urban settlement that supports the Greenbelt.‎

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Job Posting: Director for Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation office in Durham Region

Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution for clean air, fresh water and healthy local food.  At 2 million acres, it is the world’s largest greenbelt preserving productive farmland, forests, and wetlands from urban development.

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is an independent, charitable organization dedicated to promoting and sustaining Ontario’s Greenbelt. The Foundation supports work to protect and restore our natural environment, strengthen the agricultural sector, and create a pattern of urban settlement that supports the Greenbelt.‎

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August 2014 Newsletter

August 2014 Newsletter

August was a month when we really, really rocked out. 

This month's newsletter features:

  • The Whole Harvest: A Day at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic
  • Working Frugally and Watching the Balance Sheet
  • A Season of Change, Welcoming New Staff, Saying Farewell to Others
  • And more... !
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The Whole Harvest: Celebrating the Ontario Greenbelt at the 2014 Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

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Performers at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, 2014. From left to right: Laura Cole, Ron Sexsmith, Sarah Harmer.

Not to brag, but I had a pretty packed Saturday.

I saw almost a dozen great performers live. I visited over 20 booths at one of the largest farmers' markets I've been to. I learnt how to identify stink bugs (hint: they smell like coriander). And I even went for a rainy-day swim.

Rock stars, farmers' markets, horticulture lessons and swimming—it might seem like an odd mix. But at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, all these things share a common greenbelt ground.

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A Season of Change: Welcoming Our New Staff

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From left to right: Kat Snukal, Alexandra Lucchesi, Jessica Schmidt, and Josh Bentley-Swan, our new staff.

Autumn always feels like a season of grand change to me. I believe it’s all the years of institutionalized education compounding and weighing in on my subconscious, telling me that September spells the end of summer and the start of nose-in-book time.

It is a season of grand change here in the office, however. I am happy to introduce some of our newest Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation employees.

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Wrapping up the 2014 Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

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Sarah Harmer performs at the 2014 Greenbelt Harvest Picnic.

At the end of August, we celebrated our fourth annual Greenbelt Harvest Picnic. Put on by Daniel Lanois and September Seventh Entertainment, the day was a celebration of music, food, and art.

While the music was front and centre, the many farmers, food vendors, artisans, and NGOs added a unique flavour that I can only see at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic. From the most flavourful garlic to the juiciest grape tomatoes, you would not find the usual “burger and fries” fare at this event. 

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Greenbelt's Loyal Partnership With Patagonia

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I'm not known to be a fashionable guy. I've been known to wear shirts inside out (accidentally!) and I have been told that shorts are not professional work attire.  

But my respect for ethically- and environmentally-made clothing is prevalent. Despite my relaxed attitude about professional attire, I am interested in where my wardrobe comes from, and Patagonia's mandate and activism are worthy of recognition.

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