Soil health is essential for ensuring the long-term viability of farming and sustainability of the environment. A new report from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation tells the stories of 14 farmers in the Greenbelt who are using a variety of practices to improve their soil health. Farming different crops in different regions across the Greenbelt, these farmers are taking leadership in protecting and conserving the rich diversity of soils in the Greenbelt that are critical to our food system.
New Report! Agricultural Advisory Committees: Recognizing the Value of Agriculture in the Golden Horseshoe
Local Agricultural Advisory Committees (AACs) provide an agricultural lens to municipal policies, plans, and processes. Produced in collaboration with the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance, this report examines the structure, challenges, and successes of AACs across the region. It highlights a number of lessons learned from AACs in the Golden Horseshoe that may be useful for existing AACs, as well as municipalities interested in establishing an AAC.
Building on an earlier study, a new report from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, Agriculture Trends and Updates: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages, profiles the changes in agriculture in the Greenbelt from 2011 to 2016, compared to the rest of Ontario. Using Statistics Canada’s Census of Agriculture data, the report looks at key variables such as number of farms, area farmed, use of farmland, production levels, and farm revenue.Read more
Building soil carbon helps mitigate climate change by taking carbon out of the atmosphere in the form of organic matter, and sequestering it in the soil. Soils with higher levels of organic carbon are also more resilient to climate change.
Earlier this year we commissioned a feasibility study of a potential multi-year project designed to measure and build soil carbon through innovative management practices around the Town of Erin. The feasibility study allowed the project team to assess interest and willingness to participate among local farmers and community groups by holding workshops and through targeted outreach. These activities demonstrated strong local enthusiasm and potential for the full pilot to go ahead.
Under this project proposal, local community groups concerned about climate change will support farmers in their efforts and contribute to the measurement stage through a citizen science process.Read more
A new report, Ontario’s Good Fortune: Appreciating the Greenbelt’s Natural Capital from Green Analytics and Sustainable Prosperity finds that in addition to storing over $11.17B of carbon, the Greenbelt provides $3.2B annually in ecosystem services to the region. The report, commissioned by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, assessed the value of final services provided by the Greenbelt that Ontario residents benefit from.Read more
In 2015, the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network (GBFMN) collaborated with Informa Market Research, visiting 30 network markets and interviewing 82 farmers, as well as 26 other market vendors. Results were compared with GBFMN’s 2009 survey to learn about growth and change in the sector. This study is intended to assist farmers’ market vendors and organizers, and inspire the interest and support of market shoppers and funders.Read more
The Ontario Tender Fruit Lab (a project of MaRS Solutions Lab and the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience) convened 35 participants at a series of three workshops in the Niagara region to discuss the future of Ontario's tender fruit industry.
As a supporter and participant in this process, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation staff worked with other stakeholder participants to strategize the best ways to bring about change in the Ontario tender fruit industry within the entire value network.
The resulting report, Building a Resilient Tender Fruit Industry outlines the shared strategy and interventions that emerged from the three workshops. Have a look to see what the future of tender fruit in Ontario could look like and read about the interventions are already being made by networks of local food champions!
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation commissioned Dr. Wayne Caldwell to develop a more robust definition of agriculture system and its component parts. The Agricultural System: Components, Linkages, and Rationale, identifies what is necessary for a well-functioning agricultural system and a viable agricultural industry. It allows municipal staff and others who interact with agricultural communities to better understand how their work impacts the functioning of the entire system, in turn affecting individual farmers.
Dollars & Sense: Opportunities to Strengthen Southern Ontario’s Food System -
7.95 MB (Download for screen reading)
Dollars & Sense: Opportunities to Strengthen Southern Ontario's Food System -
9 MB (Download to print your own copy)
The Dollars & Sense: Opportunities to Strengthen Southern Ontario's Food System study identifies ways Ontario can make changes to its food system to increase the supply of local food, create jobs, and support healthier lifestyles.
Encompassing the first research of its kind in Canada, the report, produced in partnership with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, looks at a number of scenarios. Key findings include:
- Reducing the top 10 fruit and vegetable imports by 10 per cent and expanding local production would help create 3,400 jobs and boost the province’s GDP by nearly a quarter billion dollars.
- Ontarians adopting a healthier diet leads to higher consumer demand for fruits, vegetables, and some grains. For example, if consumers moved to an ideal level of oat consumption in their diets, 241 jobs would be created and the province’s GDP would grow by more than $14.2 million.
- Transitioning 10 per cent of food consumption to organic would improve farm incomes and reduce the environmental impact of food production, but require imports of many products unless local organic production was increased.