Monthly Archives: March 2013
Spring has sprung, and hopefully this past week’s snow was our last of the season. Soon we will be seeing the reemergence of blossoms and farmers’ markets. Most of our local markets will be opening over the next month and a half, and there are plenty of reasons to shop from your Lehigh Valley farmers.
You may remember a blog post we did a few months ago where we highlighted the research of Buy Fresh Buy Local’s Community Fellow Laura Schmidt. She debunked the common perception that farmers’ markets prices are higher than grocery stores: (read the full report here!)
When the price of a shopping bag of farmers’ market food grown/raised using organic methods is compared to the price of a shopping bag of grocery store certified organic food, no statistically significant difference is found. There is also no statistically significant price difference between a bag of farmers’ market conventional and grocery store conventional food. Nor is there a statistically significant difference between the farmers’ market and grocery store bags of combination (organic methods/ certified organic & conventional) food.
The Buy Fresh Buy Local website explains other reasons for buying from regional farmers, including better taste, health benefits, supporting local business and the beneficial environmental factors. Supermarket produce average 7 to 14 days in transit, during which time fruits and vegetables lose some of their nutritional value and burns fossil fuels while travelling.
Now that you’re convinced to buy local, here’s where you can do it!
|1. St. Luke’s SteelStacks Farmers’ Market:
SteelStacks Farmers’ Market101 Founders Way
25 W. 3rd Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Distance: 4.67 miles.2. Bethlehem Farmers’ Market @ Campus Square:
Bethlehem Farmers’ MarketS New St & E Morton St
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Distance: 4.75 miles.
P.O. Box 14
100 N. Walnut Street
|7. Nazareth Market on the SquareCenter Square
Nazareth, PA 18064
Distance: 12.40 miles.8. Easton Farmers’ Market:
Nurture Nature Center518 Northampton Street
Easton , PA 18042
Distance: 14.54 miles.
LindenHillGardens (Route 611)
Penn& Main Streets
So now you have the why and the where, here’s the what: a schedule of when fruits and vegetables come into season
We hope to see you out this spring and summer supporting our local agriculture!
The American Society of Civil Engineers releases a report every four years that grades the quality of America’s infrastructure. Every single report for the past 15 years has shown a decline or stagnation in quality – until this year.
The last report was issued in 2009 and gave our domestic infrastructure a “D” grade. This year, it has been bumped up to a “D+.” The report shows progress in six areas which include bridges, rail, waste water and drinking water. Ports, waterways and levees have retained their position at the bottom of the list with a “D-.” Our highest grade comes in at a “B-” for our treatment of solid waste. Clearly the push for better development and repairs cannot stop, but to halt the downward spiral of quality is a serious step in the right direction.
Experts have contributed the small increase to more funding from private interests and local governments who have become tired of waiting for the federal government to subsidize these desperately needed upgrades in their infrastructure.
Matt Lehrich, a spokesman for the Obama administration, said to the New York Times, “This report confirms what we already know: that while smart investments in infrastructure have not only created jobs but started to produce the improvements American workers and businesses will need to compete in a global economy, we have a very long way to go.”
The Lehigh Valley is no different. Our infrastructure is aging and decaying. Efforts have been made across the Lehigh Valley, slowly addressing these concerns. Some infrastructure needs, such as water and wastewater systems, could benefit from regionalization efforts, something RenewLV discovered in a 2008 study.
The ASCE also breaks down the data and needs by state, below are their findings on Pennsylvania:
Water and Environment
- Pennsylvania’s dam safety program has 28 Full-Time Employees that each oversee an average of 118.8 state regulated dams.
- Pennsylvania has 852 high hazard dams.
- 96% of the state regulated dams in Pennsylvania have an Emergency Action Plan.
- Pennsylvania’s state dam safety program has an annual budget of $2,502,295.
- Pennsylvania has reported $11.4 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.
- Pennsylvania has 96 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Pennsylvania has approximately 199 miles of levees according to the current FEMA Midterm Levee Inventory.
- Pennsylvania has reported $17.9 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.
- There are 132 public-use airports in Pennsylvania.
- 5,540 of the 22,669 bridges in Pennsylvania (24.4%) are considered structurally deficient.
- 4,370 of the 22,669 bridges in Pennsylvania (19.3%) are considered functionally obsolete.
- Pennsylvania received $429.3 million from the Federal Highway Bridge Fund in FY2011.
- Pennsylvania has 260 miles of inland waterways, ranking it 28th in the nation.
- Pennsylvania’s ports handled 90.8 million short tons of cargo in 2009, ranking it 8th in the nation.
- Pennsylvania has 55 freight railroads covering 5,071 miles across the state, ranking it 5th by mileage.
- Driving on roads in need of repair costs Pennsylvania motorists $2.947 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs – $341 per motorist.
- 57% of Pennsylvania’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
- Pennsylvania has 121,772 public road miles.
- Pennsylvania’s highway vehicle-miles traveled in 2009 was approximately 7,889 per capita, ranking it 45th in the nation.
- Pennsylvania’s gas tax of 32.3 cents per gallon has not been increased in 6 years.
- Pennsylvania has 450,252 annual unlinked passenger trips via transit systems – motor bus, heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail.
Parks and Recreation
- Pennsylvania has reported an unmet need of $24.5 million for its parks system.
- Public school districts in Pennsylvania spent a total of $8 billion on capital outlays for school construction and acquisition of land and existing structures in fiscal years 2005–2008.
- It is estimated that Pennsylvania schools have $9.3 billion in infrastructure funding needs.
- Pennsylvania produces 6.577 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy every year, ranking it 17th.
Last week, we co-hosted, along with the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium, the annual State of the Lehigh Valley report presentation and luncheon. After the report was delivered, we had a lively discussion with many people in the audience about what they thought the issues facing the Lehigh Valley were and we put cards on each table for attendees to leave their thoughts on a few questions. We’ve compiled that data and the findings were very interesting!
First we asked what everyone thought the most pressing issue in the Lehigh Valley was, whether it was included in the report or not. Not surprisingly, the most common responses we got were related to employment, specifically in the types of jobs that are available in our region. Some community members have seen a disparity in the types of jobs that are vacant and the skills of our local workforce. Others want to see the Valley move toward more tech jobs and see employment in social science fields. Another major issue was education; residents of the Valley want to see graduation rates in public schools increase and make sure the students are reading at a grade appropriate level. With the concentration of colleges in the Lehigh Valley, community members want to see local students going on to higher education with the ability to pay for those institutions. Attendees also expressed concern with the “brain drain” they’re seeing from our local colleges; this drain is a result of graduates from local colleges leaving to take jobs with higher wages in New York City and Philadelphia.
We also asked what last week’s attendees wanted to see in next year’s report, and again, they pointed to education but also to quality of life data. They want to look at the correlations between early education and graduation, income level and graduation and the disparity of outcomes between suburban and urban school districts. As far as quality of life, some suggested looking at a happiness scale for residents and workers of the Lehigh Valley, comparative data of poverty rates and information on crime.
Finally we asked about the opportunities and obstacles that the Lehigh Valley faces as it moves toward becoming a more sustainable region. The opportunities are plentiful and spanned topics from economics to the environment to historical landmarks to the quality of our farmland. The Lehigh Valley has many resources at its disposal, in human capital, natural resources and a motivated and active citizenry. We will need these resources as we move forward to combat our obstacles. Standing in our way right now are barriers to regionalization. There are so many municipalities and local governments in the Lehigh Valley that could work together to provide better, faster services to their constituents while making more comprehensive plans for the area’s future. Cooperation is integral to planning for sustainability, and not just at the municipal level – corporations and non profit organizations can work together with citizens to make concrete steps toward smart and sustainable growth.
We hope you were able to attend the State of the Lehigh Valley, but if not, you can read a PDF of the report here. If you weren’t able to share your thoughts at the meeting or not able to attend the meeting, reach out on Twitter @RenewLV or on our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/RenewLV. Renew Lehigh Valley is also part of a several-year grant project from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development called Envision Lehigh Valley to plan for long-term, sustainable communities. If you have thoughts about community planning, share those in the ‘Feedback’ section on the lefthand panel of Envison’s website: http://www.envisionlehighvalley.com/envision-lehigh-valley