by Malcolm Jolley
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation launched greenbeltfresh.ca on May 18 at Hart House at the University of Toronto. The website will help consumers, “bulk buyers” and farmers living in the Greater Toronto Area and its surrounding greenbelt find and connect with each other. President Burkhard Mausberg describes greenbeltfresh.ca as a “dating site” with “facebook pages” that profile over 600 growers and producers surrounding the city.
Visitors to the site can search by product, from vegetables to wine to meat, or by region – or even postal code. Search results provide both a listing of green belt producers and a Google map showing their location.
Jennifer Story, the foundation’s Communications Manager, explained to Good Food Revolution that the site took over a year to build and enlisted the support of other good food movement agencies in Ontario. For instance, greenbeltfresh.ca uses Local Food Plus’ sustainable certification and the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance member chefs contributed recipes that are also available on the site. OCTA executive director Rebecca LeHeup spoke at the launch, saying, “OCTA’s partnership with Friends of the Greenbelt strengthens the resources available to people in Ontario to locate fresh, seasonal, local foods.” Story echoed LeHeup’s remarks, adding that the provincial government’s Savour Ontario Dining program, which encourages restaurants to cook with local food, was also interested in the project.
Rob Gray, a sales executive with Mississauga-based Bamford Produce, a food distributor and restaurant supplier, told GFR demand for local food had “exploded in the last two years”. Gray wasn’t sure if he would use the site, but said he was impressed by the impression and would try it out. Story told GFR she is especially keen to get “bulk buyers” like the big restaurant suppliers on board, adding that there is mounting pressure on Ontario institutional buyers like hospitals and schools.
There to help launch the site were chefs who have no trouble locating nearby farmers like Hart House’s Mario Tucci, Real Food For Real Kids’ Lulu Cohen-Farnell and Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann from the Ancaster Old Mill. Find out more about the wesbite at www.greenbeltfresh.ca.
Malcolm Jolley is the editor of Good Food Revolution.