Ontario’s Greenbelt is a world renowned 1.8 million acre protected space created in 1995 to protect key environmentally sensitive land and farmlands from urban development and sprawl. The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation was created at the same time — as a charitable organization mandated to foster Greenbelt’s living countryside — by nurturing and supporting activities that preserve its environmental and agricultural integrity. More recently, the non-profit Greenbelt Fund was established to support and enhance the viability, integrity, and sustainability of agricultural and viticulture industries in Ontario and Ontario’s Greenbelt.
The purpose of the Foundation’s Sustainable Food System initiative is to bring more sustainably produced local food into mainstream markets. With progress being made in each of the 15 regional projects supported, there is a recognition that creating a food system that reflects the values of social and ecological sustainability will not be accomplished through building a parallel alternative infrastructure from the ground up. Instead, existing mainstream institutions and supply chains must be ‘nudged’ to create room for values-based products.
A key strategy for accomplishing this is to work with public sector purchasers like schools, hospitals and universities, where a small number of food service companies who control most of the market have shown a willingness to source more local and sustainable products in response to customer interest. The major challenge now is to link this increased demand for local food to available supply, by reorganizing the distribution system which links the two.
This project will link food distributors with regional aggregators (hubs) to source and supply regionally specific products from small and medium sized farms for institutions such as university cafeterias and hospitals. Distributors will have access to locally grown foods without the need to maintain inventory of these products within centralized warehouses, thus keeping costs down. The Foundation’s support will primarily be used for staff and consultant salaries, seed funding for hubs to develop ordering, traceability and storage systems, and training for farmers in food safety and labelling.
- Visit www.greenbelt.ca for more information
- General Funding