As President of the Greenbelt Foundation, I play many roles - one day, I'm a team leader, a speaker, an activist, a beer connoisseur and local food enthusiast; the next, I'm a gardener.
Along with my grant-making team, I get to help sow the seeds of ideas, to turn imagination into realities. Over the last five years, I have witnessed the sprouting of some incredible projects in the Greenbelt. Since its inception, theFoundation has committed over $16 million to projects which nurture and support activities that preserve and enhance the Greenbelt’s agricultural, rural and ecological integrity and viability. Our dollars have been matched to the tune of $21 million more!
This past Earth Day, I joined my Board in planting a new batch of ideas and offering them a chance to come to fruition. Here are some examples:
The York Region Food Network’s Greenbelt-grown Cultural Food Guides for York Region will help consumers find local-ethno cultural foods and encourage Greenbelt farmers to grow more of these crops.
Ecojustice’s Greenbelt Wetlands Protection Assessment Project forms a unique partnership with Ducks Unlimited, Ontario Nature and Earthroots to review provincial wetland and water regulations to determine if they are achieving the intended goals of “ecological integrity and hydrological function” supported in the Greenbelt Plan.
The David Suzuki Foundation’s Promoting the Value of Ontario’s Greenbelt Natural Capital builds on previous work to value the Greenbelt’s natural capital at $2.6 billion in annual benefits, and acknowledges the Greenbelt’s role in mitigating climate change, providing clean water, and protecting wildlife habitats.
Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s Bike Train Greenbelt Express 2010 promotes the Greenbelt as an attractive destination for cycling tourism through train travel between Toronto and Niagara.
Sierra Club Ontario’s Growing the Greenbelt provides support to communities to grow the Greenbelt in Halton and Peel.
Success is based on more than just ideas; it is the marriage of challenge and pragmatic solutions. These grant recipients are the Greenbelt’s keepers. They are growing a forest of ideas and putting real actions into place to help fortify Ontario’s Greenbelt.
Like my own garden, I am thrilled to watch these projects bloom. Though gardening hasn’t always been my forte, it too is beginning to grow on me.
To read more about the projects that we’ve supported, visit our website at www.greenbelt.ca/grants.
-- Burkhard Mausberg