Holland Marsh 'goes local' with Greenbelt Foundation Funding

    Jamie Kennedy celebrates the return of Ontario's largest source of fresh

    TORONTO, Aug. 19 /CNW/ - After decades of exporting vegetables grown in
one of Ontario's most productive agricultural regions, Holland Marsh farmers
are seizing the opportunity to sell their products in the local marketplace.
    Today the Holland Marsh Growers Association announced that it received a
$400,000 grant from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. "The Holland
Marsh is the Olympics of farming," says Foundation President Burkhard
Mausberg. "The sheer volume of vegetables coming from the Greenbelt's Holland
Marsh deserves a gold medal. And this grant continues our staunch support for
Greenbelt farmers."
    Renowned Toronto chef and local food advocate Jamie Kennedy has tossed up
a new salad to mark this announcement using ingredients picked entirely from
the Holland Marsh. "The salad showcases the taste, freshness and variety of
vegetables that are growing in the Marsh," says Kennedy. "It is rewarding to
create a salad with such high quality fresh vegetables: harvested in the
morning and on your plate at noon."
    Kennedy has selected artichoke hearts and romaine lettuce, complemented
by coloured carrots, radishes, Italian parsley and celery root, topped with
roasted beefsteak tomatoes and shallot vinaigrette. The salads are being
hand-delivered to Premier Dalton McGuinty, and local MPP Julia Munro,
representing the Holland Marsh.
    The Holland Marsh is located in the protected Greenbelt and is home to
some of the richest soils in the country. Farmer and Chair of the Holland
Marsh Growers Association Alex Makarenko says, "for decades, the Holland Marsh
has been considered the crown jewel for agricultural production: it is our
very own 'salad bowl' with over 150 Marsh farmers on nearly 10,000 acres. With
the might of the Marsh behind the local food movement, we anticipate a
significant shift in choices for consumers."
    "I want to thank Mr. Kennedy for developing a salad that reflects the
diversity and quality the Marsh is renowned for," added Makarenko. "We want
consumers asking for products of the Holland Marsh everywhere they go -
because our products have the quality, taste, and freshness they want, and
come with the assurance that what we do is environmentally friendly as well."
    Vegetables will not only be grown within the Holland Marsh, but stored,
processed and packaged as well, shortening the entire distribution chain, and
strengthening the local economy. Local food reduces greenhouse gases,
addresses the growing unease over food ripening as it spends weeks in storage
and meets high food safety standards. The Association will also work with
farmers to become certified by Local Food Plus, creating a distinct Holland
Marsh-Local Food Plus brand.
    In the past, Holland Marsh farmers have focused mostly on growing
carrots, onions and celery. The new program builds on efforts that are
underway to diversify crop production to meet the wider demand across the
Greater Golden Horseshoe. Marsh farmers are already growing more than 40
different vegetables ranging from red and green leaf lettuce, endive, celery
and spinach to bok choy, Asian radishes and kohlrabi.
    Other grants recently made by the Greenbelt Foundation range from
supporting species restoration, to restaurant purchasing of local food, and
children's educational programming. Total amount of the recent grants,
including to the Holland Marsh Growers Association, is $2,268,000. A full list
is at the end of the media release and posted on the Foundation website

    For further information please contact:
    Jamie Reaume, Executive Director, Holland Marsh Growers' Association at
    (905) 251-6786, jreaume@rogers.com
    Meredith Davis, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation at (416) 960-0001
    ext. 308, mdavis@ourgreenbelt.ca
    Diana Crosbie, Crosbie Communications at (416) 360-6625,
    Jodi McBurney for Jamie Kennedy at (416) 362-1957 ext. 380

    Contact information for Holland Marsh farmers available for interviews:
    Alex Makarenko, Chair, Holland Marsh Growers Association
    at (905) 836-3202 (mobile)
    Roman Dyriw, Board Member, Holland Marsh Growers Association
    at (905) 960-6467 (mobile)
    John Gorzo, Holland Marsh Farmer who provided vegetables for the salad
    at (905) 252-2822.

    Photos of the Holland Marsh are available on the Greenbelt Foundation
website (www.ourgreenbelt.ca). Additional photos of Jamie Kennedy preparing
the salad will be posted on the website by 1 pm.

    The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation began its work in June 2005 as an
independent, charitable foundation with a mandate to promote and sustain our
Greenbelt as a beneficial, valuable, and permanent feature, enhancing the
quality of life for all residents of Ontario.

    Recent grants made by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

    Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (Niagara Escarpment Commission)
    Escarpment of Adventure
    The Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association and the Niagara Escarpment
Commission will collaborate to produce a high-definition television program
and interactive website to promote awareness and exploration of the ecological
connectivity, culinary and agricultural life, and healthy recreational
opportunities in the Niagara Escarpment - a World Biosphere Reserve in
Ontario's Greenbelt.

    Country Heritage Experience Inc.
    Master Development Plan for Country Heritage Park
    A review of Country Heritage Park's land-use management and development
policies will bring them into conformity with regional planning requirements
and a program review will develop guidelines that ensure future activities
showcase the Park's mandate.

    Local Food Program in Peel Region Schools
    Peel will be the first school board in Ontario to offer local and
sustainable food to its students and staff, including Elementary, High School
and Culinary Arts Schools.  The project opens up a new market for Greenbelt
farmers. Combined with a classroom and practical learning program, the project
fosters a connection to local food for a whole new generation.

    The Greenbelt Depot at the Brick Works
    The first-of-its-kind Greenbelt Depot at the Don Valley Brick Works fills
a distribution gap in the local food system by establishing a weekly wholesale
market where Greenbelt farmers and Toronto chefs can do business.

    Building a Local Food Culture
    In order to teach young people about all aspects of their food system,
the Greenbelt, and eating local foods, students will visit Everdale farm and
explore the FoodShare warehouse to enhance foods skills, taste the bounty of
local products, and learn about the important role that farmers play in
feeding cities.

    Grape Growers of Ontario
    Canadian Vitis Certification Program
    A feasibility study will determine the viability of creating a domestic
supply of grape vines in order to avoid disease-related and other risks
associated with importing materials propagated abroad. The project contributes
to a sustainable domestic wine industry in the Greenbelt.

    Holland Marsh Growers' Association
    Holland Marsh Greenbelt Sustainability Program
    Holland Marsh farmers, in collaboration with local packers and
processors, will shift fresh vegetable production in this Specialty Crop Area
from a largely export market to the local market. They will also diversify
crop production and implement more sustainable growing practices through Local
Food Plus certification and other changes.

    Kawartha Heritage Conservancy
    A Farming Future for the Eastern Greenbelt - Phase II
    The Kawartha Heritage Conservancy will work with its partners, FarmStart
and the Ontario Farmland Trust, to create and launch a FarmLink Program that
connects new farmers with available agricultural land through long-term leases
with landowners.

    Milton Chamber of Commerce
    Escarpment Country - in the Heart of Ontario's Greenbelt
    A new marketing campaign increases awareness of Milton's Niagara
Escarpment lands. Co-branding of the Niagara Escarpment with the Greenbelt
will unify the landscapes and deepen the sense of pride that Ontarians feel
for the scenic and ecologically-valuable natural heritage features in the

    Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
    Atlantic Salmon Classroom Hatchery Program
    The Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program's wildly popular
classroom hatchery program expands into 30 new classrooms in Greenbelt and
neighbouring cities. Salmon fry are released each spring into nearby rivers
and streams, helping to re-establish a locally extinct fish population.

    Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, coordinated by Environmental Defence
    Strengthening the Greenbelt
    The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and the Municipal Leaders for the
Greenbelt will continue to monitor the implementation of the Greenbelt Act and
Plan and engage their constituents and decision-makers in appreciating,
enhancing and growing the Greenbelt.

    Ottawa Street Farmers' Market in Hamilton
    Hamilton's farmers' market is relocating and expanding. Recruitment of
local farmers and a marketing campaign attract new customers and community
support that will make this market a lasting success.

    Sierra Club of Canada, Ontario Chapter
    Helping Communities Defend the Greenbelt
    Using resources such as a Greenbelt tool-kit, residents in urban
communities adjacent to the Greenbelt are informed about how their land use
decisions impact the Greenbelt and how their city can support and benefit from
the Greenbelt.

    The Ontario Greenbelt Adventure
    Children and their parents around Ontario will experience the Greenbelt
through multimedia programming on the popular and educational TVOKids show and
website. Short video vignettes introduce Greenbelt treasures and interactive
components such as special events like tree-planting and a treasure hunt bring
families out to experience the Greenbelt - physically and virtually.

    Wabash Building Society
    A new farmers' market at Sorauren Park in Toronto's Roncesvalles and
Parkdale neighbourhoods draws more Greenbelt farmers to market and showcases
locally-grown ethno-cultural crops to residents of this diverse community.

For further information:

For further information: Jamie Reaume, Executive Director, Holland Marsh
Growers' Association at (905) 251-6786, jreaume@rogers.com; Meredith Davis,
Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation at (416) 960-0001 ext. 308,
mdavis@ourgreenbelt.ca; Diana Crosbie, Crosbie Communications at (416)
360-6625, diana@crosbie.on.ca; Jodi McBurney for Jamie Kennedy at (416)
362-1957 ext. 380

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