Passion for a Healthy Environment and Hearty Farmlands Evident as $3,260,000 in Grants Awarded

Toronto, July 31, 2007 − The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is pleased to announce more than $3,260,000 in grants to agricultural and environmental organizations in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. “Just like kids’ passion for Harry Potter, we are seeing Ontarians’ passion for clean water, green spaces and local food,” says Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “A fine example of our passion is our commitment today to Greenbelt farmers to grant an additional $1 million to help them green farm operations through the Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program.”

“A year ago,” he explains, “the Foundation granted $1.4 million for a two-year program. But eight months later the whole amount was enthusiastically spoken for by hundreds of farmers, and applications kept coming looking for support for their environmental projects. We are happy to announce today an additional $1 million to fulfill those requests.“

With this additional funding, thousands more acres of land will benefit from environmental improvements such as reduced pesticide use, improved waste management, decreased water pollution, and new habitat for wildlife. “This wholehearted participation,” says Andy Graham of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), “is a clear signal that a growing number of Greenbelt farmers are supportive, and willing to adopt agricultural practices that help to keep family farms productive, profitable and environmentally responsible.“

The Greenbelt program builds upon an existing cost share program through the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association delivers the APF programs on behalf of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition, “The $1 million increases the total cost-share available to Greenbelt-area farmers to as much as 75 per cent,” Graham continues. “This greatly eases concerns over the investments required by farmers to adopt better environmental practices; we are seeing an average allocation of about $3,100 per project.”

The Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program is funded by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, and delivered by OSCIA alongside project funding available through the Canada Ontario Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) which is supported through the Agricultural Policy Framework.

With polls showing over 89% of public support for the Greenbelt‘s goal of protecting area lands by curbing urban sprawl, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has to-date awarded close to $10 million in grants to not-for-profit organizations working in support of farming, the environment and rural communities located in the Ontario Greenbelt.

Other Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation grants announced today are:

4-H Ontario – $200,000 for their Greenbelt Partners in Preservation project that brings together 200 youth to tour the Greenbelt and discuss its impact on the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. The youth delegates will then engage their communities in local projects and activities to help make the Greenbelt a success. Their leadership will be highlighted at the 2008 Royal Winter Fair;

Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto − $147,000 for Rouge Park's Little Rouge Corridor Ecological Restoration Initiative, which will develop detailed site prescriptions to restore this critical link between zones to maximize biodiversity, ensure compatibility with the existing geography and protect archaeological sites; and $105,000 for Gateway to the Greenbelt, a three-year project that includes the creation of a major traveling Greenbelt exhibit and market-place to promote “places to see and things to do” in the Greenbelt;

David Suzuki Foundation – $100,000 for An Assessment of the Greenbelt's Ecosystem’s Non-Market Values. The study will quantify the Greenbelt's natural capital and forest assets, such as flood mitigation and water purification, and regulatory services that affect climate and disease;

Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario – $150,000 for Increasing Organic Production in the Greenbelt through Farmer-to-Farmer Training and Support, which will provide courses, mentoring services, workshops and farm tours to help new and established farmers transition to ecological and organic farming practices; 

Environment Hamilton – $180,000 for Farm Fresh Hamilton, a project that increases expansion of locally-grown food into area markets, businesses and schools and promotes local agriculture through a marketing and communications campaign;

Everdale Environmental Learning Centre − $9,500 for the 17th Annual Organic Advocates Feast of Fields that promotes local farmers, chefs, and food and beverage producers through an interactive farm tour, a farmers' market and demonstrations; 

Evergreen − $10,000 for Greenbelt Field to Fork Celebration at the Don Valley Brick Works, a day-long event featuring top chefs, a farmers' market, workshops, exhibits, and cultural performances - all celebrating Greenbelt foods;

Niagara Escarpment Foundation − $178,000 for their Niagara Escarpment Development Tracking System & Southern Ontario Land Resource Information System, an initiative to digitalize 30 years of development permit applications and decisions, analyze development trends, and track and address enforcement and compliance. The grant will also allow the completion of the Southern Ontario Land Resource Information System, a land cover mapping tool for Bruce and Grey Counties; 

Niagara North Federation of Agriculture − $25,000 for Niagara Agri-Education Day, which invites urban and rural grade school classes to a day-long interactive, curriculum-based agricultural, culture and economics learning event at the annual Lincoln Fair;

Ontario Farmland Trust, University of Guelph − $75,000 for Keeping Greenbelt Farmland in Farming, a major campaign to encourage the donation of agricultural easements throughout the Greenbelt; 

Ontario Nature - Federation of Ontario Naturalists − $235,000 for Greenbelt Connections, a project involving research and outreach on the ecological values of the Greenbelt including a public outreach campaign on our health and the Greenbelt; 

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association of Canada − $600,000 for the Showcasing Our Greenbelt at The Royal, engaging a variety of partners to showcase the different characteristics of the Greenbelt through interactive displays and presentations at the Royal Winter Fair; 

Toronto Environmental Alliance − $250,000 for Green-belting Toronto's Governments, which will have Greenbelt-friendly policies adopted by all levels of government operating within the City of Toronto through campaigns, information, coalitions and strategy documents;

-30-

For further information on these and other grants, please contact: Donald Wiedman, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, tel.: (416) 960-0001, cell: (416) 559-3934, email: dwiedman -at- ourgreenbelt.ca For information on the Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program, please visit www.ontariosoilcrop.org, and contact: Andy Graham, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, tel.: (519) 826-4216, email: andrew.graham -at- ontariosoilcrop.org

By entering my email above I consent to receive emails containing information about the Greenbelt and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. I may revoke my consent by unsubscribing.