Toronto, March 27, 2007 – Farmers in Niagara lead all regions across the Greenbelt in undertaking environmental improvement projects which qualify for cost-sharing grants from the $1.4 million Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has announced. The program has received over 400 applications since it was introduced eight months ago; of those, 223 are from farmers in the Niagara region or some 56%. As the farmers complete their environmental projects they will receive over $750,000 in grants from the program. The program is so popular with farmers across the Greenbelt that the $1.4 million has been allocated in just eight months, rather than over two years as was anticipated. The Foundation is now considering adding more money to the program.
“The Niagara region is known around the world for its bountiful vineyards and orchards and natural beauty,” said Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “Niagara wines are known internationally for excellence. Now, looking at the enthusiasm to invest in environmental protection expressed by Niagara farmers, there’s no doubt the region is also gaining a reputation for caring responsibly for the land.”
Environmental farm practices eligible for cost share through the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program, are also eligible for additional cost-share funding under the Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program. With the additional Greenbelt Foundation funding, hundreds of farmers across the Niagara Peninsula are ensuring that thousands of acres of land benefit from environmental improvements such as reduced pesticide use, improved waste management, decreased pollution, and new habitat for wildlife.
“The Greenbelt Foundation is contributing to a well-respected program that is administered through farm organizations," said Andy Graham of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, who delivers the programs on behalf of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition. “Funding dollars increase the total cost-share rate available to Greenbelt-area farmers to as much as 75 per cent of eligible costs which can greatly ease concerns over the investments required by producers to adopt these environmental practices.”
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has to-date awarded more than $4.4 million in agricultural grants, including the Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program, to assist Greenbelt farmers and support organizations to create new marketing opportunities, increase consumer awareness of the importance of buying local food, and develop partnerships with retailers.
For further information, please contact: Donald Wiedman, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, tel.: (416) 960-0001, ext. 305, cell: (416) 559-3934, email: info -at- ourgreenbelt.ca