I grew up in the country. The first home I remember was surrounded by farmers’ fields – cows grazing, haygrass blowing in the wind. I became a city dweller many (many) (ssshh) years ago. And I’ve always loved the city. But even in the middle of the bustle, I’ve always sought out green space. I love the energy of the city, but finding a green oasis or even getting completely out into the country reminds me: being constantly surrounded by people and concrete is disconnected from what actually keeps us alive. Fields growing food. Animals grazing. Watersheds cleaning away the toxins we spew in to them every day. Vast forests scrubbing clean the air we breathe.
Photo Credit: ecochick
Toronto is big. Really big. And in the middle of this vast urban sprawl, it’s harder to find that green space. Ever since we moved from Ottawa, I noticed that it’s much further to get out of the city, out in to the real wild where you can breathe. But it’s there, and it’s protected. It’s called the Greenbelt. If you have driven in to or out of the GTA in any direction, you’ve driven through it.
Map via Friends Of The Greenbelt
The Greenbelt is home to farms and fields, to watersheds and habitats. Wildlife abounds among natural beauty, and people live directly connected to nature. The Greenbelt is a treasure. And as our population expands and urban areas grow and grow, preservation of green space is crucial. Ontario’s Greenbelt protects that green space, including farmland, water sources, habitats and environmentally sensitive areas, from the inexorable march of urban sprawl. Over 2 million acres of land are protected as the Greenbelt, but it faces challenges every day. Developers, hungry for places to add more cookie-cutter homes, would love to spread in to the Greenbelt, especially given its proximity to the GTA. Industry would love to take advantage of the lumber, the water. They’d just lay a strip of asphalt across the fields to create access to urban centres.
Photo Credit: Richard Smith on Flickr
But the Greenbelt is protected. The Greenbelt feeds us, nurtures us, allows us to stay connected to the earth. Even we speak, families are making plans to go to farmers’ markets to buy locally grown food or go picking crisp, sweet apples and take hayrides in the heart of the Greenbelt this weekend. Shortly we’ll go for excursions for pumpkin picking or cutting a Christmas tree. We can hike and swim and be completely silent – because the Greenbelt is protected.
Photo Credit: ecochick
I’m proud to be part of the #ONGreenbelt blogger team. There’s so much that’s incredible about the Ontario Greenbelt, and we can’t wait to share it with you. We’re going to hold twitter chats, give you great information about the Ontario Greenbelt, give away a few fabulous prizes and hopefully give you a good reason (or a dozen) to explore the Greenbelt yourself. Our first chat is Wednesday, September 17 at 8 pm Eastern, and we’d love for you to join us. Sign up here, and follow along – I am @ecochick on twitter, and you can also follow @GreenMomsCo and @GreenbeltCA as well as the hashtag at #ONGreenbelt. We’ll be holding twitter chats weekly through the fall – check out the full list of topics:
Sept. 24: The Foodbelt: Local Grown Food in the Greenbelt
Oct. 1: The Funbelt: Natural Areas in the Greenbelt
Oct. 8: Watershed – Rivers and Waterways in the Greenbelt
Oct. 15: Ecology of the Greenbelt – Rural Vitality, Air, Nature, Wildlife
Oct. 22: Future of the Greenbelt – Planning and Economics
Disclosure: As a part of the #ONGreenbelt blogger team, I have received compensation to participate in this campaign. ecochick only participates in campaigns that meet my ethical guidelines.