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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ontario's Greenbelt Fund

Fresh Local Food from Ontario's Greenbelt is prime focus of initial grants from newly established Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
TORONTO, July 11 /CNW/ - Ontario's Greenbelt is the focus of $3.27
million in grants to keep rural life in south central Ontario strong and
productive. Urbanites across the Golden Horseshoe directly benefit, too, from
their proximity to a vibrant countryside, fresh food, prime agricultural land
and protected sources of clean water and air.
At a news conference today at the St. Lawrence Market, the Friends of the
Greenbelt Foundation announced the first 13 recipients of grants from the $25
million fund established to promote farming, rural community life and the
protection of the environment across the Greenbelt. The nearly two million
acres of countryside in the Greenbelt surround the Golden Horseshoe and
extends to Georgian Bay.
"The recent creation of the Greenbelt presents an enormous opportunity to
strengthen and redefine the relationship between our urban centres and rural
communities which, if achieved, will augment the quality of life for all of
us," said Sandy Houston, Chair of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.
"The primary focus of the first grants is the farming community in the
Greenbelt," said Burkhard Mausberg, executive director of the Foundation.
"Farmers have told us that it is difficult to get their locally-grown fruits
and vegetables on store shelves and dinner tables. Urbanites have told us they
want fresh local food. We are funding several organizations to help bridge the
gap, such as $1 million to Ontario Farmers' Markets, and another million
dollars to Local Flavour Plus, a group connecting farmers to big institutional
users of food such as Universities."
"Immigrants, often coming to Ontario from rural areas, have difficulty
getting into the business of farming. A $62,000 grant supports the University
of Guelph's initiative to help immigrants overcome hurdles such as training on
how to grow crops in Ontario's climate and exploring opportunities to create
new ethnic-food markets."
The Greenbelt Foundation is supporting community events showcasing crops
grown in the Greenbelt, such as VQA wines at the Niagara wine festival in
September, the fresh local food festival in Durham Region, and Uxbridge's
celebration of its rural roots. These events attract people from the local
areas and across the Golden Horseshoe.
Enhancing the environmental health of rural land in the Greenbelt in
order to maintain clean water and clean air is a priority for both local
Greenbelt residents and the eight million people in adjacent urban areas. A
grant of $600,000 supports the ongoing efforts of the Ontario Greenbelt
Alliance representing 75 organizations committed to sustaining the Greenbelt.
Members include environmentalists, municipal leaders, planners and health
professionals. A $40,000 grant goes to the Rescue Lake Simcoe Charitable
Foundation in support of programs to reduce pollution in Lake Simcoe, situated
on the northern edge of the Greenbelt.
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation began its work in June 2005 as a
charitable foundation with a mandate to fund organizations in support of
farming, the environment and rural communities located in Ontario's Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt's 1.8 million acres (720,000 hectares) encompasses the Niagara
Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park, approximately 7,000 farms, and
hundreds of rural towns and villages. The Greenbelt is easily accessible to
people in Toronto and anywhere in the Golden Horseshoe from Niagara to Durham
and Northumberland Counties.

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