FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2013
PUTTING MORE LOCAL FOOD ON THE TABLE
New Greenbelt Fund Grants Will Increase Market Access for Ontario Farmers and Processors
The Greenbelt Fund is working hard to make it easy for Ontarians to choose local food. By introducing a new grant stream to increase market access for Ontario farmers and processors, the Market Access program will help increase local food access for public institutions, retail outlets, and foodservice markets.
A few weeks ago, I got up to the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market to enjoy a morning of fresh air, food, and friendly faces. The market was abundant with local Ontario produce: sharp and delightfully crimson rhubarb, soft and sensuous oyster mushrooms, and the last curling whorls of fiddlehead season.
Incredible views and celebrating our natural landscape were only a part of the festivities that took place over the weekend of July 7, 2013, during the Niagara Escarpment Festival Biosphere Bash held at Ball’s Falls, part of Ontario’s Greenbelt.
Last week, on July 10th 2013, our usual Wednesday Greenbelt staff lunch turned into a recipe testing and tasting when I whipped up a few of the fabulous recipes developed by the City of Toronto for their city-run daycare centresand served them up to our staff. With support from the Greenbelt Fund, the City of Toronto created 14 healthy, veggie-infused recipes, loaded with lots of fresh, local Ontario-sourced food. After being taste-tested by four hundred kids who gave them thumbs-up for taste, we thought we would give them a try. Would our staff be as gung-ho as the kids were?
The project pilots the use of Market Bucks, or "coupons" as an advertising tool to attract new customers to farmers’ markets. Partnerships between farmers' markets and local, community businesses will raise program funds and distribute the Bucks.
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has been supporting The Stop and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre now for three years on the World Crops initiative. The Learning Gardens are the latest addition to the project with more than 20 gardens popping up across the GTA throughout the summer including one at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, which we visited in June.
The Georgina Harvest Dinner brings the community together to celebrate and support local farmers and businesses. The funding goes towards sourcing and purchasing food from Greenbelt farmers. The event was held on September 21, 2013
A new market exists for Greenbelt farmers to grow ethno-cultural vegetables. Vineland is continuing with its efforts to launch this market by conducting research and training farmers in crop production, completing a market analysis, and developing partnerships with retailers. Activities in year two scale up commercial production, develop opportunities to test crops in the marketplace, and increase education and outreach activities to the larger farm community.
TEA supports local efforts to grow the Greenbelt along Toronto's major urban river valleys, including the Humber and Don Rivers. This will ensure these watershed lands are permanently protected and connect millions of urban residents directly to the Greenbelt. The project further celebrates the Greenbelt's 10th anniversary by engaging the public in activities that support the Greenbelt (buying local food, taking a hike) and sharing their stories with others online.