The Co-operators grants $35,110 to students hungry to promote sustainable food systems

GUELPH, ON, March 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, The Co-operators announced a total of $35,110 in funding to seven IMPACT! alumni who are leading innovative sustainability projects. The latest round of grants from the IMPACT! Fund supports initiatives focused on sustainability and food systems, from creating garden spaces to aquaponics.

Since its inception in 2009, the IMPACT! Fund has supported alumni from IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership as they work to make their campuses and communities greener and more sustainable. Through the IMPACT! Fund, The Co-operators has granted $323,860 to IMPACT! alumni from across Canada.

"Many of the young people participating in the IMPACT! program are already sustainability leaders in their communities," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "I'm very impressed by their knowledge, skills and passion, and we're pleased to provide financial support to their innovative projects, so they can create a more sustainable future."

Funding was announced today for the following:

Colin Sober-Williams, Huntsville, Ont. – Muskoka-North Community Greenhouse
Colin's project is focused on reconnecting people with food. The $5,750 grant will cover equipment and material for building a greenhouse in collaboration with Common Roots Food collective, a not-for-profit organization in Huntsville, Ontario, and conducting educational workshops with local schools about plant biology, including growing seedlings for school gardens.

Danielle Prapauessis, National – Seed by Seed
Seed by Seed is a non-profit organization and educational partner that empowers communities to reconnect with their food. This project will include a cross-Canada speaking tour focusing on young people and their ability to impact the food system. The $3,850 grant will cover the creation of a website, social media presence, technical equipment and workshop equipment.

Evan Bowness, Winnipeg, Man. – Enhancing Community Capacity and Resilience: Building Stronger Networks
Garden Share connects available garden space to aspiring gardeners. With the help of the team at the South Osborne Community Co-operative, Garden Share will build onto existing garden plots along with building new ones and build interpersonal community relationships through workshops, garden tours and consultations to enhance participation and increase volunteer involvement. The $6,000 grant will cover educational workshops, materials and supplies.

Jack Terrion, Ottawa, Ont. – Aquaponic Experimentation and Outreach
This project includes aquaponic (raising aquatic animals while cultivating plants in water) experimentation and outreach. The $2,995 grant will cover equipment and materials of the construction of four aquaponic systems, some of which will be in classrooms. These systems will increase the overall understanding of aquaponics and educate students on sustainable farming methods.

Jenny Ma, Vancouver, B.C. – Vancouver Honeybees
Jenny will use her $5,750 grant for Vancouver Honeybees. This project helps hive owners feel empowered and confident keeping bees in their backyards, rooftops, work place, community gardens and public education facilities. The project will supply local bees that are well adapted to the local climate and advocate sustainable, chemical free beekeeping. The project will also provide supplies, support, educational opportunities and natural management of honey bees and beehives. They aim to increase urban biodiversity, community engagement, growing local foods and cultivating real honey from floral sources in local neighbourhoods.

Laura Cicciarelli, Montreal, Que. – For Better and For Green
The $5,265 grant will be used for materials and equipment to build two small boxes that will be installed for a community garden and the fruits and vegetables will be available to the entire community. The garden will be maintained by community members and at-risk young people from Innovation Jeunes, an organization that supports youth in downtown Montreal. Small-gardening workshops will also be offered to the community.

Wesley Loke, Vancouver, B.C. – Treehouse Treats
Treehouse Treats is a social enterprise with a mission to raise awareness of food wastage and security. The organization harvests neighbourhood fruits to make pies, jams and other products to sell at local markets. The $5,500 grant will be used to purchase equipment, ingredients, and promotional materials.

For more information on each project, please visit http://www.impactyouthsustainability.ca/impact_fund/2013_recipients

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $34 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean's magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, 519-767-3937