Holland Marsh goes local with Greenbelt funding

Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
August 20, 2008
By Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
August 20, 2008, Toronto, Ont. – After decades of exporting vegetables grown in one of Ontario’s most productive agricultural regions, Holland Marsh farmers are seizing the opportunity to sell their products in the local marketplace.

hollandmarshOfficials with the Holland Marsh Growers Association recently announced that the organization has received a $400,000 grant from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

“For decades, the Holland Marsh has been considered the crown jewel for agricultural production,” said Alex Makarenko, a farmer and chair of the Holland Marsh Growers Association. “It is our very own ‘salad bowl’ with over 150 Marsh farmers on nearly 10,000 acres. With the might of the marsh behind the local food movement, we anticipate a significant shift in choices for consumers.”

Vegetables will be grown within the Holland Marsh, and also stored, processed and packaged in the area as well, shortening the distribution chain and strengthening the local economy. The growers association will also be working with farmers to become certified by Local Food Plus, creating a distinct Holland Marsh-Local Food Plus brand.

“We want consumers asking for products of the Holland Marsh everywhere they go – because our products have the quality, taste, and freshness they want, and come with the assurance that what we do is environmentally friendly as well,” said Makarenko.

In the past, Holland Marsh farmers have focused on growing carrots, onions and celery. The new program will build on efforts currently underway to diversify crop production to meet the wider demand across southcentral Ontario. Marsh farmers are already growing more than 40 different vegetables ranging from red and green leaf lettuce, endive, celery and spinach to bok choy, Asian radishes and kohlrabi.

diggingonionsThe Holland Marsh is located in the protected Greenbelt and is home to some of the richest soils in the country.

“The Holland Marsh is the Olympics of farming,” says foundation president Burkhard Mausberg. “The sheer volume of vegetables coming from the Greenbelt’s Holland Marsh deserves a gold medal. And this grant continues our staunch support for Greenbelt farmers.”

To mark the announcement, renowned Toronto chef and local food advocate Jamie Kennedy tossed up a new salad made from ingredients grown in the Holland Marsh, including artichoke hearts, romaine lettuce, coloured carrots, radishes, Italian parsley and celery root, and topped with roasted beefsteak tomatoes and shallot vinaigrette. The salads were hand-delivered to Premier Dalton McGuinty  and local MPP Julia Munro, representing the Holland Marsh.

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