Small Change Making a Big Difference: One-of-a-kind Program Brings New Products to a Farmers’ Market Near You
This harvest season there’s even more to celebrate with new products available at farmers’ markets in and around Ontario’s Greenbelt.
With support from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, more than $44,000 in small-scale or ‘microgrants’ are being provided to 68 farmers, helping them meet customers’ demands to bring more local food to their plates.
Farmers’ markets are continuing to increase in popularity, growing at an annual rate of more than 8 per cent a year. In 2011 alone, they were estimated to provide a direct economic impact of $400 million for Ontario.
“More and more, consumers are looking to Greenbelt farmers’ markets to provide them with fresh local food,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “We supporting farmers as they increase the amount and diversity of foods sold at market, and helping them meet the growing demand.”
The funding helps farmers to purchase small-scale equipment to support eco-friendly ways to extend the growing season, develop new products for sale, and strengthen the overall economic success of farmers’ markets.Examples include:
Silmaril Farm, Grimsby - With a grant of $900, they were able to purchase a vacuum sealer that enables them to provide fresh custom-packed meat products. Markets: Grimsby
The Cutting Veg, Sutton– A grant of $700 supported the addition of a washing station which means that they can provide pre-washed products, including salad greens.Markets: Wychwood Barns (Toronto), Leslieville (Toronto), Sorauren (Toronto)
Kolapore Gardens, Clarksburg – A grant of $350 purchased coolers to store washed, pre-packaged salad greens for sale at markets and as part of a Community Supported Agriculture network. Markets: Collingwood, Clarksburg
Everdale, Hillsburgh – With their grant of $700 they are extending their growing season by building caterpillar tunnels, structures that protect crops from harsh weather. Markets: Brickworks (Toronto), Wychwood Barns (Toronto)
Sun Ray Orchards, Beamsville – A grant of $1,000 supported the purchase of a commercial oven for an on-farm kitchen trailer, so they can bake fresh fruit-pies to sell at local markets. Markets: Bloor-Borden (Toronto), Orangeville
“This opportunity means we can offer our customers meat products that can stay fresh longer,” said Michelle Seaborn, owner and operator of Silmaril Farm.“Having a vacuum sealing unit really helps to support our business – I’d say our customers are pleased!”
“With this funding I was able to purchase coolers and totes that would both effectively do the job of maintaining freshness of the salad greens from the field to the market table, as well as stand the test of time, being durable enough to last many seasons,” said Mike Reid, owner and operator of Kolapore Gardens. “This also helped me boost the sales of other products - regular customers would come to my market stand looking for salad greens, and end up purchasing a variety of other products, such as carrots, beets, tomatoes, and more.”
“Farmers are telling us that microgrants provide great encouragement of their efforts to build the selection of food available at markets,” said Anne Freeman, Project Coordinator, Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network. “It’s an opportunity to test innovative ideas, too, and customers are responding with enthusiasm.”
The Greenbelt Farmer’s Market Network provides support to more than 80 farmers’ markets in and around the Greenbelt.The Network advocates on behalf of all its markets, offers professional development to market managers, and supports best practices.
About Ontario’s Greenbelt and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
Ontario’s Greenbelt is more than 1.8 million acres of green space, farmland, vibrant communities, forests, wetlands, and watersheds – all permanently protected by world-leading legislation. In return the Greenbelt gives back $9.1 billion in economic benefits and $2.6 billion in ecosystem services annually to Ontario.
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is working to help farmers in the Greenbelt be more successful; to protect and enhance natural features; and to strengthen local economies. To learn more about the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, please visit www.greenbelt.ca.
Click here to download more information on all of the 2012 microgrants recipients.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
416-960-0001 ext. 337
Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network