Story by Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Greenbelt Fund and the Greenbelt Foundation
As a grant-making organization, we’re fortunate. We get to work with really smart people, and we get to insert ourselves in great new projects that make change. Since 2010, we’ve seen a return of $112 million in increased Ontario sales with our work. This proves that the Fund has been nothing short of a monumental success.
Just a few days ago, we received our first round of applications since the new investment program launched. The Local Food Investment Fund will increase the sales of local food and build awareness of the variety of food grown in Ontario.
With so many influencers in the local food industry, we knew we would receive a breadth of applications—but hadn’t anticipated the impressive amount and quality received. We got a record number of submissions—95 in total—which is more than triple our average in the past. The organizations that applied cover our three program streams: Broader Public Sector, Market Access, and Local Food Literacy. These streams are meant to address the amount of food being served and distributed through our public institutions, retail and foodservice markets, and address food literacy.
There is a real joy in doing the work that we do with leaders in the food value chain. Whether we’re working with farmers, distributors, NGOs, or chefs, we get to collaborate with those that know the industry well, and know what needs doing to get more Ontario food on our plates.
On our end, we have an easy job: we sign the cheque. But the hard part? Having to say no. Refusing projects due to funding limits is always difficult, because we see the potential impact in proposed projects that can create economic success. At the same time, it’s difficult to say no to such passionate, committed, and talented people. This is a reminder of the rigorous process each funding application has to go through to select the best of the best.
But without a doubt, results like this show changes have happened and will continue to affect Ontario’s local food industry. Though the process will be difficult, we’re looking towards huge change—and what an amazing change to be a part of.