BUILDING ON OUR ASSETS

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*This article originally appeared in the Ontario Planning Journal. Vol. 29, No. 5, 2014. See PDF

 Ontario’s Greenbelt turns 10 next year.

While there are many gains to celebrate, it is also time for the province to begin its legislated review of the three plans that make up the Greenbelt. While any birthday is time for reflection, a 10th birthday is notable and an important time for review.

The Greenbelt Act and Greenbelt Plan were passed with much fanfare in 2005. While there was some loud opposition especially from affected landowners and some municipalities, the plan received significant support from conservationists, planning experts and the public.

Since then the Greenbelt has enjoyed huge public approval. It is consistently the government’s most popular environmental initiative garnering more than 90 per cent support.

Did the 2-million acre Greenbelt live up to its expectations? I suggest an unqualified “Yes.”

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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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Working Frugally and Watching the Balance Sheet

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We take financial duties seriously and as a charity we are diligent in spending our donations and contributions. 

So we aim for, and are proud of, keeping our administrative outlays to less than six per cent of expenses. We do this with tight cost-controls, exhausting volunteer and job-creation positions, applying multiple accounting reins, and by always negotiating a substantial charitable discount. 

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Bringing New Canadians into the Greenbelt

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Greenbelt Foundation staff at our annual staff retreat

Over the years, the environmental movement has consisted primarily of white, middle class folks and hasn’t really reflected the Canadian diaspora of multicultural backgrounds. This has led to criticism that the movement is exclusive and not prepared to build diversity into its work.

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Come and enjoy this year’s Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

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The Greenbelt booth at the Picnic provides insight and information about the Greenbelt and how to get involved.
Photo Credit: Melanie Schade, 2013.


Now in its fourth year, the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic has been called one of the 10 best outdoor music shows by the Globe and Mail.

But it's more than a music show. It's a celebration of food and farming. It's an opportunity to be active in a gorgeous conservation area. And it’s a chance to spend a day with family and friends.

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The Next Generation of Farmers’ Markets

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Agriculture in Norfolk County, Ontario.

Many people think of farmers as the average white male in his 50s, inheriting the farm from generations of family tradition on hundreds of acres of land. While this may be the case for most farmers and is indeed becoming a demographic challenge, a new trend of first generation farmers is growing. For some, entering the business is popular, especially when involved with farmers’ markets.

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Farmers' Markets and the Community

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Farmers' markets showcase fresh fruit and vegetables along with beautiful displays.

Farmers’ markets not only provide local food, they also bring communities together. As both a foodie attraction and social function, markets attract neighbours, musicians, farmers, and entertainers, encouraging and growing the most fresh and delicious food our province has to offer. 

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Durham – An amazing part of the Greenbelt

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Agriculture in Durham region.

The natural landscape of Durham invites you to explore the spectacular lake views and walk in its beautiful conservation areas. Whether the Ganaraska Forest or the Rouge Park, you are surrounded by nature that invites you to enjoy the outdoors. But Durham is more than just a spectacular landscape.  

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Thank You to the Leaders at Our Conservation Authorities

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Conservation Authorities are an unusual creation. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel wrecked unexpected havoc in Ontario­, washing out streets, bridges, homes, and trailers. Conservation Authorities, legislated in 1946, quickly rose in importance shortly after to avoid similar damage.

While each Authority is localized to the needs of its watershed, they all do excellent work around flood control, water quality, wetlands preservation, and fish and wildlife habitat. 

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