Three $100,000 grants awarded to support people and communities
Canadians want to see positive change in their communities. So they voted for their favourite projects, across Quebec and Ontario, as part of a GoodSpark Fund initiative sponsored by Desjardins.
Three winning projects were awarded $100,000 each, in the categories of youth, entrepreneurship and sustainable development. The idea is to support initiatives that spur social and economic activity and positive change.
That change can start at a young age. It’s why one of the grant recipients, AgrÉcoles, is helping children from pre-school to grade six better understand the farm-to-table concept. The organization, based in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, educates students on where food comes from, how it’s grown, issues around food security and the impact food has on our environment.
“AgrÉcoles wants to create social change locally, and transform our collective ways of consuming,” executive director Julia Grenier says.
With the GoodSpark grant, AgrÉcoles aims to reach more children than ever, by funding outdoor classrooms, themed gardens and a vegetable greenhouse.
This investment “represents an enormous boost that will ensure AgrÉcoles can maintain momentum and succeed in promoting agri-food studies all over Quebec,” Grenier says.
Creating social change is a dream shared by Groupe TAQ in Quebec City, the winner in the entrepreneurship category.
Groupe TAQ provides work for people with disabilities, and more than 60 per cent of its own staff have developmental and functional disabilities. In the short-term, Groupe TAQ hopes to use the funding to create more jobs by purchasing farmland so it can produce fruits and vegetables in the Quebec City area.
“If all goes well, we’ll be able to expand to two or three times the size of the current operation. Maybe in five years, we’ll have 200 new jobs,” says Groupe TAQ’s general manager Gabriel Tremblay.
He aspires to seeing this kind of project replicated across the country. “Two million people are out of work because they can’t find jobs adapted to their abilities,” Tremblay says. “It would be extraordinary if there were programs like ours across Canada.”
Desjardins has been providing support to Groupe TAQ for many years. “When we have a project that will create jobs, we know that Desjardins will be there,” Tremblay says.
La Mouche Rose, the winner in the sustainable development category, helps farmers strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection.
Their sterile fly technique prevents onion crop damage. Now, La Mouche Rose’s dream is to contribute to a healthier environment across Canada by raising and distributing sterile onion and cabbage flies, to act as an alternative to chemical pesticides.
“Less pesticide in the field means less pesticide in our water table, and that means less pesticide in our environment,” says Linda Roberge, executive director of Prisme, the consortium behind the La Mouche Rose project, based south of Montreal.
For now, about 20 farms across 900 hectares of cropland use the alternative technology. Roberge hopes it can be applied nationally.
For Roberge, the vote of confidence from farm owners and agricultural producers – and from GoodSpark – means that “we’ll work harder to be creative and innovate in the future. Desjardins saw the potential in our project, and that’s hugely encouraging.”
Improving the well-being of people and communities is the goal of the $250 million GoodSpark Fund. That commitment comes from Desjardins’ cooperative model and has led to investments in more than 400 projects that are creating social and economic security for Canadians.
Canadians voted for the projects they felt would spark positive change and Desjardins is honoured to be able to offer support. This investment in community initiatives underscores Desjardins’ belief that Canada is stronger when people work together to reinvent tomorrow. Desjardins would like to congratulate the winners and wish them all the best.
For more information about the fund, the winners and the other finalists, visit https://www.desjardins.com/ca/goodspark-fund.
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.