Monthly Archives: March 2015

Regionalization Victory: Slate Belt PD Goes on Patrol Apr. 1

Good news for fans of municipal cooperation: After years of discussion, the Slate Belt Regional Police Department will begin operating April 1.

According to a press release from the force’s Chief David A. Mettin, the department will cover Plainfield Township and the boroughs of Wind Gap and Pen Argyl. Its headquarters are on Sullivan Trail at the Plainfield building.

“The officers and staff of the department look forward to providing excellence in police service and working with all municipalities throughout our area,” Mettin said.

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RenewLV and the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Plans Series of Events

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RenewLV has been working with the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council to organize a series of events on the topic of “Growing the Local Food Economy,” consistent with the recommendations in the Buy Fresh Buy Local’s Assessment Report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy. On January 29th, 100 local food advocates gathered to explore ten themes from that report and develop action plans.

Local freelance writer, Tom Coombe, attended that lunch/discussion and wrote this following piece. There’s another event scheduled for March 30th, “What’s Cooking?” exploring food and beverage entrepreneurship.  This piece below adequately describes some of the passion for this topic among diverse voices.

“I’m a chef, and I’m angry,” says Jon Middleton.

A chef at Muhlenberg College, Middleton got into the business because he wanted to make good food.

“Now I feel like I need to put on a spandex suit and a cape. It’s ridiculous,” he said at a meeting in Bethlehem on the Lehigh Valley’s food economy. “Why do I have to be an ‘advocate’ to want good food, good land, good water?”

He corrects himself a few moments later; the word he wanted was “activist,” not “advocate,” but the point is the same: Food shouldn’t be a battle, but it is.

But it’s not a battle he’s fighting alone. Middleton made his superhero analogy in a room full of over one hundred Lehigh Valley acvistists/advocates who care about food.

The meeting was organized by RenewLV, hosted by the newly forming Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council and sponsored by Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream. It asked participants for ideas under ten topics on how to boost the region’s food economy.

There are a lot of issues to tackle.

The recent closing of the Bottom Dollar Food grocery chain left a lot of local neighborhoods stuck in “food deserts,” a term used to describe a community without easy access to affordable and nutritious food.

Local farmland is in danger of being swallowed by development.

“We have some of the most fertile farmland in the country, and, increasingly, it’s under warehouses,” said RenewLV’s Executive Director, Joyce Marin.

And there are people who simply don’t have enough to eat. Ross Marcus, of the Community Action Development Corporation of the Lehigh Valley, noted that his organization collects over 7 million pounds of food a year to distribute to people who are “food insecure.”

“The great part is that it’s available,” he said. “The sad part is it’s needed.”

But the meeting was to talk about solutions rather than problems.

There were ideas that worked on a statewide or even national level, like calls for stronger land-use laws, more voter participation in off-year elections — when voters pick new local officials — and a hike in the minium wage.

There were smaller local solutions as well.

One group proposed the $10 idea: If every local family spent $10 more each week on locally-produced food, it would add almost $100 million to the Lehigh Valley economy.

Gary Warren of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op invited people to invest in the community-owned market that is now being organized, saying 350 households will get the group to its goal.

And Todd Nemura, of the Children’s Home of Easton, spoke of plans to turn their facility’s defunct indoor swimming pool into a greenhouse.

The idea of getting younger people involved in gardening and farming was one the group returned to again and again.

The term is “growing farmers,” shorthand for introducing a new generation to farms in the hopes that they’ll grow their own gardens or even start their own farms.

On some level, younger people are already interested in sustainable, local food. As he talked with representatives from other institutions, Moravian College chef Daniel Leiber got a text about a meeting for later in the day from a student who wanted more organic options.

“She’s not uncommon,” he said. “We do get students who request local and organic.”

The trick, he said, is to keep these conversations happening.

“The more we talk about it, the more they get into,” Leiber said. “It just grows and grows and grows.”

Sign up now for “What’s Cooking” an Event to Encourage the Starting up or Scaling up of Food and Beverage Businesses

Come Sit at Our Table

“What’s cooking?”

There are still a few places at our table for a lunch/discussion on Monday, 3/30, that will focus on growing our local food economy through supporting food and beverage entrepreneurs.

The event will start with Risa Sherman, Manager of Philanthropy for Samuel Adams talking about the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program which supports food, beverage and craft brewing entrepreneurs and helping eliminate barriers to their growth.   She will discuss how the company provides access to microloans, coaching and mentoring, and new business networks and markets and explain the concept behind the shared use commercial kitchen incubator the company has supported in the Boston area.  Panelists will discuss:

  • Insights on Food Entrepreneurship and What a Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen Incubator Can Do For Early-stage Food and Beverage Business Owners — Risa Sherman, Manager of Philanthropy, Samuel Adams
  • We Did it!  – Robyn Jasko, co-owner Homesweet Homegrown Hot Sauces; Rynn Caputo, Co-owner, Caputo Brothers Creamery, Spring Grove, PA.
  • Where’s the Money? — Chris Hudock, Rising Tide Community Loan Fund
  • Plan your Work and Work Your Plan – The Business of Starting Up – Ellen Larmer, CACLV

Participants who are interested in developing a Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen Incubator in the Lehigh Valley will have an opportunity to discuss it in greater detail with Ms. Sherman during the break-out session following the panel discussion.  The nine break out-session small group table discussions will include:

1) Food Entrepreneurship and What a Commercial Kitchen Incubator Can Do For You — Risa Sherman, Samuel Adams; Angela Callie, CED Coordinator, USDA Rural Development representative

2) Planning for Success: How to Develop a Solid Business Plan — Ellen Larmer, CACLV

3)  “Show me the Money,” Financing Your Start-up Business with Micro Loans — Chris Hudock, Rising Tide Community Loan Fund; Jessica Dokachev, Community and Economic Development Specialist, Northampton County

4) Facility Options for Start-Ups — Dr. Jack Felch, Executive Director of the Lehigh Conference of Churches, Mary Ellen Griffin, Executive Director, The Caring Place, Anna’s Kitchen

5) Marketing and Branding Your Product – Joe Iacovella, Account Manager, Lehigh Mining and Navigation

6) How to Make a Living from a Small Farm – Cynthia James, ASC Program Manager, Rodale Institute; Sara Runkel, Great Bend Farm; George DeVault, Pheasant Hill Farm

7) Running a Fully Legal and Licensed Food Business/ServSafe – Gary Ritter, Environmental Field Manager, Allentown Health Bureau; Beth Somishka, Bethlehem Health Bureau

8) On the Road Again:  How to Get Started with a Food Truck Business – Tim and Hala Bonner, Taza Trucks and member of the Lehigh Valley Mobile Food Alliance, USDA representative.

There is no cost to attend this event, but space is limited so pre-registration is required.

There are still a few spots left. To reserve your seat, go to: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5246/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=73226

Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Continues the Conversation on Growing the Local Food Economy with Lunch/Discussion on 3.30

Food Policy Meeting March 30 2015

Renew Lehigh Valley and the newly formed Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council will be hosting a food entrepreneurship event, “What’s Cooking?” on Monday, March 30, from 12:00 to 2:00 PM at the Fowler Center, 511 E. Third St. Bethlehem, PA.   The event is the second of four lunch/discussion events during the first half of 2015 related to growing the local food economy and are all sponsored by Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream.

The event has been organized to help food entrepreneurs start-up and grow, even during these challenging economic times.   It will provide opportunities for farmers, food entrepreneurs, micro brewers and emerging food manufacturers to network, share information, collaborate on improving their products and learn more about branding and marketing in order to start or scale up their businesses.   The event sponsor, Samuel Adams, has a philanthropic mission, Brewing the American Dream, which is focused on supporting food and beverage entrepreneurship and eliminating barriers to businesses growth.   The event will include a combination of panelists and breakout sessions.

With the culmination of the three year EnvisionLV process, RenewLV has  continued to conduct public outreach and organize public engagement events on growing a local food economy consistent with Buy Fresh Buy Local’s  Assessment Report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy.  RenewLV’s involvement in this event is consistent with its organizational commitment to ‘Move from Ideas to Actions’ post EnvisionLV.   The fourteen founding members of the newly formed Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council, all passionate and committed stakeholders, support growing our local food economy and want to see the ideas in the Food Assessment Report implemented.  The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Founders Team includes United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, CACLV, Second Harvest Food Bank, Northampton and Lehigh Counties, Rodale Institute, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, the Nurture Nature Center, St. Luke’s Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital, RenewLV, Seven Generations Charter School, Lafayette College and Jordan Heights Neighborhood Partnership.

Renew Board member and chair of the events committee, Julie Thomases, stated, “At RenewLV we are concerned with the loss of farmland in the region and are bringing people together to explore creative ways of preserving farmland, keeping farmers farming, and helping people make money through producing local food and value-added products.  We are excited about the momentum that exists right now on the topic of developing a vibrant, strong local food economy in the region.  Entrepreneurs and small businesses have always been the backbone of our economy, and with the current focus on local and organic food, health and farmland preservation, the time is now to build the relationships to move these ideas forward for a better Lehigh Valley.”

According to the Food Assessment Report, “If residents spent just $10/ week on locally grown food, nearly $100 million in economic activity would be generated annually providing jobs, business incubation and expansion, and economic growth for our local farms, business and service providers.”

The lunch/discussion event will open with a panel of experts including entrepreneurs and individuals who have experience in successful regional efforts to support food entrepreneurs in the Lehigh Valley and other parts of the country.   Panelists will provide valuable information on topics such as funding opportunities and inspiring stories of how they started and grew their businesses.  Risa Sherman, Manager of Philanthropy at Samuel Adams, will discuss the benefits and operations of large scale shared use commercial kitchen incubators, a concept of that Boston Beer, the parent of Samuel Adams, has supported in the Boston area.

There is no cost to attend this event, but online pre-registration is required.  To register for this event:  click here:

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5246/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=73226

Support for Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs

Philly Speed Coaching Flier 3-3

Samuel Adams is sponsoring a Speed Coaching for Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs in Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 11th from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Reading Terminal Market. They are willing to host an event like this in the Lehigh Valley if there is interest. Anyone who wants to go and can fit a trip to Philly into their schedules is welcome to attend this event and let us know if you think that having an event of this nature closer to home in the fall would be helpful to growing our local food economy.