Passion for a healthy environment and hearty farmlands evident in $3,260,000 in grants awarded to Ontario Greenbelt organizations



    Farmers receive additional $1 million grant for greening local farms

    TORONTO, July 31 /CNW/ - The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is
pleased to announce more than $3,260,000 in grants to agricultural and
environmental organizations in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. "Just like kids'
passion for Harry Potter, we are seeing Ontarians' passion for clean water,
green spaces and local food," says Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Friends
of the Greenbelt Foundation. "A fine example of our passion is our commitment
today to Greenbelt farmers to grant an additional $1 million to help them
green farm operations through the Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program."
    "A year ago," he explains, "the Foundation granted $1.4 million for a
two-year program. But eight months later the whole amount was enthusiastically
spoken for by hundreds of farmers, and applications kept coming looking for
support for their environmental projects. We are happy to announce today an
additional $1 million to fulfill those requests."
    With this additional funding, thousands more acres of land will benefit
from environmental improvements such as reduced pesticide use, improved waste
management, decreased water pollution, and new habitat for wildlife. "This
wholehearted participation," says Andy Graham of the Ontario Soil and Crop
Improvement Association (OSCIA), "is a clear signal that a growing number of
Greenbelt farmers are supportive, and willing to adopt agricultural practices
that help to keep family farms productive, profitable and environmentally
responsible."
    The Greenbelt program builds upon an existing cost share program through
the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), a federal-provincial-territorial
initiative. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association delivers the APF
programs on behalf of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition, "The
$1 million increases the total cost-share available to Greenbelt-area farmers
to as much as 75 per cent," Graham continues. "This greatly eases concerns
over the investments required by farmers to adopt better environmental
practices; we are seeing an average allocation of about $3,100 per project."
    The Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program is funded by the Friends of the
Greenbelt Foundation, and delivered by OSCIA alongside project funding
available through the Canada Ontario Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) which is
supported through the Agricultural Policy Framework.
    With polls showing over 89% of public support for the Greenbelt's goal of
protecting area lands by curbing urban sprawl, the Friends of the Greenbelt
Foundation has to-date awarded close to $10 million in grants to
not-for-profit organizations working in support of farming, the environment
and rural communities located in the Ontario Greenbelt.

    Other Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation grants announced today are:

    4-H Ontario - $200,000 for their Greenbelt Partners in Preservation
    project that brings together 200 youth to tour the Greenbelt and discuss
    its impact on the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. The youth delegates
    will then engage their communities in local projects and activities to
    help make the Greenbelt a success. Their leadership will be highlighted
    at the 2008 Royal Winter Fair;

    David Suzuki Foundation - $100,000 for An Assessment of the Greenbelt's
    Ecosystem's Non-Market Values. The study will quantify the Greenbelt's
    natural capital and forest assets, such as flood mitigation and water
    purification, and regulatory services that affect climate and disease;

    Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario - $150,000 for Increasing
    Organic Production in the Greenbelt through Farmer-to-Farmer Training and
    Support, which will provide courses, mentoring services, workshops and
    farm tours to help new and established farmers transition to ecological
    and organic farming practices;

    Environment Hamilton - $180,000 for Farm Fresh Hamilton, a project that
    increases expansion of locally-grown food into area markets, businesses
    and schools and promotes local agriculture through a marketing and
    communications campaign;

    Everdale Environmental Learning Centre - $9,500 for the 17th Annual
    Organic Advocates Feast of Fields that promotes local farmers, chefs, and
    food and beverage producers through an interactive farm tour, a farmers'
    market and demonstrations;

    Evergreen - $10,000 for Greenbelt Field to Fork Celebration at the Don
    Valley Brick Works, a day-long event featuring top chefs, a farmers'
    market, workshops, exhibits, and cultural performances - all celebrating
    Greenbelt foods;

    Niagara Escarpment Foundation - $178,000 for their Niagara Escarpment
    Development Tracking System & Southern Ontario Land Resource Information
    System, an initiative to digitalize 30 years of development permit
    applications and decisions, analyze development trends, and track and
    address enforcement and compliance. The grant will also allow the
    completion of the Southern Ontario Land Resource Information System, a
    land cover mapping tool for Bruce and Grey Counties;

    Niagara North Federation of Agriculture - $25,000 for Niagara Agri-
    Education Day, which invites urban and rural grade school classes to a
    day-long interactive, curriculum-based agricultural, culture and
    economics learning event at the annual Lincoln Fair;

    Ontario Farmland Trust, University of Guelph - $75,000 for Keeping
    Greenbelt Farmland in Farming, a major campaign to encourage the donation
    of agricultural easements throughout the Greenbelt;

    Ontario Nature - Federation of Ontario Naturalists - $235,000 for
    Greenbelt Connections, a project involving research and outreach on the
    ecological values of the Greenbelt including a public outreach campaign
    on our health and the Greenbelt;

    Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association of Canada - $600,000 for the
    Showcasing Our Greenbelt at The Royal, engaging a variety of partners to
    showcase the different characteristics of the Greenbelt through
    interactive displays and presentations at the Royal Winter Fair;

    Toronto Environmental Alliance - $250,000 for Green-belting Toronto's
    Governments, which will have Greenbelt-friendly policies adopted by all
    levels of government operating within the City of Toronto through
    campaigns, information, coalitions and strategy documents;

    Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto - $147,000 for Rouge Park's
    Little Rouge Corridor Ecological Restoration Initiative, which will
    develop detailed site prescriptions to restore this critical link between
    zones to maximize biodiversity, ensure compatibility with the existing
    geography and protect archaeological sites; and $105,000 for Gateway to
    the Greenbelt, a three-year project that includes the creation of a major
    traveling Greenbelt exhibit and market-place to promote "places to see
    and things to do" in the Greenbelt.

    The Greenbelt's 1.8 million acres (720,000 hectares) wraps around the
Golden Horseshoe and is vital to our quality of life. It encompasses the
Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park, some 7,000 farms, and
hundreds of rural towns and villages. 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.

    For a list and descriptions of Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation grants
awarded to-date, please visit www.OurGreenbelt.ca





For further information:

For further information: on these and other grants, please contact:
Donald Wiedman, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, tel.: (416) 960-0001,
cell: (416) 559-3934, email: dwiedman@ourgreenbelt.ca; For information on the
Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program, please visit www.ontariosoilcrop.org, and
contact: Andy Graham, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, tel.:
(519) 826-4216, email: andrew.graham@ontariosoilcrop.org

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Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

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