The Greenbelt Through My Lens
May 26th, 2022
The work of an inspiring conservationist in the Oak Ridges Moraine, the forming of the iconic Bruce Trail, the creation of an organic hops farm - these are the stories and experiences I get to share.
As a passionate videographer and photographer, storytelling has, for me, always been visual. For the past two years as the Communications and Engagement Advisor at the Greenbelt Foundation, I’ve been lucky enough to leave my Toronto desk behind and drive into the Ontario Greenbelt, camera in hand, to document the community that enriches this region, the food it grows, and the nature it supports.
Let’s take an inside look at some of my experiences.
Tasked with capturing the Greenbelt in the spring, my first shoot led me to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. Situated alongside the 900km Bruce Trail and the Credit River, this location was a picturesque welcome to the natural wonders of the Greenbelt.
Spanning 700 acres, this park offers five different walking trails that bring visitors through dense forests, some leading to a stunning cascading waterfall. Forks of the Credit is also one of the best places to spot the Ontario Provincial flower in bloom, the White Trillium.
Detours became a consistent part of my Greenbelt shoots; on the same day, I stopped by one of the Greenbelt’s 15,000 protected wetlands and witnessed this vital ecosystem in action.
Greenbelt Food and Agriculture
Since farmland makes up 40 per cent of the Greenbelt, telling the stories of local farmers and Ontario’s agriculture sector has been a significant and essential part of my work.
In 2020, when farmers’ markets were unable to open due to COVID-19, the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network supported farmers to shift online, so they could continue to sell their local goods. To document this incredible show of support and community effort, I did a contactless pick-up of a collection of goods from the High Park Farmers’ Market that had been grown across the Greenbelt. Photographing these products on my back porch in Toronto during lockdown, I remember feeling connected to the land and thankful for having a reliable source of local food close to home.
While filming an interview at Albion Hills Conservation Park, I once again made another detour to visit the community farm located within the park. I was greeted by the welcoming staff and beautiful rows fresh Ontario garlic to photograph. Over 400 farms grow this vegetable in the Greenbelt, and Albion Hills Community Farm is one of them.
Getting to know different organizations and visiting the communities that live and work across the region continues to remind me that at its core, the Greenbelt is a network of people working to sustain, enhance, and preserve it.
Each year, the Foundation awards individuals or organizations with the Friend of the Greenbelt Award (FOGBA), recognizing leaders from across the Greater Golden Horseshoe who champion, innovate, and ensure the ongoing success of the Greenbelt. Typically announced at an award ceremony, in 2020 and 2021, we had to do things a bit differently and shift our announcement to an online format. Fast forward to today and I’ve had the chance to create seven different videos about our recipients and interview 20 inspiring community members.
Some Award recipients included Carolyn King, founder of the Moccasin Identifier, Conservation Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Philip Gosling, Co-founder of the Bruce Trail, and four municipal leaders, Erin Shapero (Markham), Steve Parish (Ajax), Glenn De Baerremaker (Scarborough), and Allan Elgar (Oakville). Their stories offered an inside look into the past, present, and future work in the Greenbelt.
Meet the 2020 FOGBA recipients here.
Meet the 2021 FOGBA recipients here.
In honour of Women’s History Month in October 2021, we set out to profile different female identifying farmers and leaders in agriculture in the Greenbelt. Each with their own experience and perspective on being a woman in the industry, Gail Winters, owner of Goodlot Farms, Buchi Onakufe, owner of Akachi Farms, and Janet Horner, Executive Director of the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance all had incredible stories to tell.
I will never forget walking around Buchi’s organic farm, watching over a dozen goats graze freely as she welcomed customers in to try some new produce. A wonderful sight!
Meet Buchi, Gail, and Janet here.
I’ve heard it before that the more you know about something, the more you will care about it. That is why I love visual storytelling. I am proud to share the stories of the Greenbelt, and I hope they help Ontarians care about protecting this land, even just a little more.
My thanks to the community members, organizations, and businesses who welcomed me (and my camera) into their world in the Greenbelt.
Claire Foran is the Communications and Engagement Advisor at the Greenbelt Foundation
To read our previous blogs, please click here.