Monthly Archives: September 2015

Be a Part of the New Food Revolution in the Lehigh Valley

Be a Part of the New Food Revolution in the Lehigh Valley

Flyer Food Policy Council September 2015 6Aug15
75,000 people are food insecure in the Lehigh Valley, more than one in ten of the total population across Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Food security is a term that means more than hunger: it also means regular access to nutritious food. If a family chronically skips a meal, or is under-nourished, they are food insecure. Our region is the home to eight low food access areas, all of which are low-income, with low-access to a grocery store.

Since the release of the EnvisionLV assessment report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy, produced by Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, stakeholders in the form of a Founders Team have been gathering and organizing through public engagement events organized by RenewLV. In 2014, The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission produced “1LV” report which included four goals for building a sustainable local food economy. The Founders Team are ready to announce a formal Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council launch and invite others to populate nine working groups.

Any person, organization or company can be a member of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council. This council will continue work on food access and food economy issues in the form of ten working groups of the council to convene at this event:

1. Food Access – limited access, government assistance, emergency resources, traditional retail markets, non-traditional urban markets
2. Consumer Education – healthy diets, where to find nutritious food
3. Urban and Organic Agriculture – community gardens, urban farms, alternative food resources, transitioning to organic
4. Food Waste – food recovery, composting, gleaning
5. Land Use – farmland preservation
6. Promoting Local Food Economy – farm to school, community education
7. Farming – farmers, farms, new farmer training, capacity and production
8. Distribution – infrastructure, processing, aggregation, distribution, wholesale buyers, farms to institutions
9. Entrepreneurship – growing the local food economy through starting and scaling up food and beverage businesses
This is a collaboration of seventeen founding partners that include: Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, RenewLV, the Nurture Nature Center, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Counties of Northampton and Lehigh, the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, CADCA – Jordan Heights Neighborhood Revitalization, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Rodale Institute, Sodexo, Lafayette College, Seven Generation Charter School, St. Luke’s University Health Network, the Lehigh Valley Health Network, New Bethany Ministries and Penn State Cooperative Extension Office.
Click to RSVP or call 484-893-1060.
***Please bring a non-perishable food item***

RenewLV Executive Director to Present at TEDxLehighRiver Event 9/18

RenewLV Executive Director to Present at Upcoming TEDx-LehighRiver Event


Sept. 8, 2015 – (Bethlehem,PA) Organizers at TEDx-LehighRiver recently announced that Joyce Marin, executive director of RenewLV – the region’s voice for smart growth and governmental cooperation – will be one of the six speakers for the Sept. 19th event at Miller Symphony Hall.

Marin’s talk Our Lives Depend On It will highlight the need for smart transportation or more robust “multi-modal” transportation planning in the Lehigh Valley. Marin’s passion stems from her professional experience in downtown revitalization and traditional neighborhoods gained from her education and service in government. Her academiccredentials include the Knight Fellowship in Community Building 2001, University of Miami School of Architecture, considered the center of New Urbanism. There, Marin toured many new urbanist traditional neighborhood developments and met the many of the leading thinkers and practitioners in smart growth today.

All presentations will follow a theme that revolves around a well-known George Bernard Shaw quote: “You see things and say, why? But I dream things that never were and say, why not?”

“I am honored and inspired by this opportunity,” said Marin. “Transportation planning is critical and touches our lives in so many ways. I’m dedicated to pedestrian safety and every aspect of multi-modal transportation fascinates me – walking, biking, transit and the potential for light rail and passenger rail in our region.”  Marin is also interested in how transportation systems interconnect in the region, creating a network of mobility and economic opportunity for communities.

TEDx programs are the localized version of TED Talks and are designed to help people and organizations spark conversation and connection within their community. The presentations are a combination of technology, entertainment and design and are limited to between three to 18 minutes.

Other speakers include:

Lauren Villaverde: an engineer and entrepreneur from Bethlehem. Villaverde is fusing her technical background with entrepreneurial studies to answer the nation’s call for more science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers.

George Hrab: an accomplished musician from Bethlehem and drummer for The Philadelphia Funk Authority. Hrab has traveled to four continents, promoting critical thinking, science and skepticism through story and song.

Liz Jordon: an Emmaus yoga instructor who owns Clear Path Wellness of the Lehigh Valley.

Michael Brolly: a Bethlehem wood-turning artist, teacher and environmentalist.

Katherine Moore: a Bethlehem professor at Moravian Academy who will talk about an experiential class concept.

To pick the speakers, it was “a rigorous process,” said TedXLehighRiver Organizer David Willard on the event’s website. “The committee for TEDxLehighRiver used social media to request applicants to speak. More than 40 people applied.”

The website goes on to report that Willard, who is retired after a 31-year career at Olympus Corp. of the Americas based in Center Valley, said the theme for this year’s event was chosen to promote creative ideas.

A six-person team for TEDxLehighRiver reviewed the applicants’ ideas, along with a two-minute audio segment from each.

The event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. 6th St., in Allentown. Tickets cost $40 (student price: $15) and are available online. For more information, visit

Tickets can be purchased at

Breaking RenewLV News: Board Members Now on LVPC and Lehigh County Farmland Preservation Board

Two RenewLV Board Members Appointed to Planning Positions in the Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem, PA (Sept. 1, 2015) – RenewLV is pleased to announce that recently board members Julie Thomases and Ron Beitler were appointed to two important planning boards. Thomases, an Allentown native, was appointed to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, and Beitler, a Lower Macungie Township commissioner, was appointed to Lehigh County’s Sterling Raber Farmland Preservation Board.

Lehigh County Commissioners recently voted unanimously to appoint both board members. Thomases joins about 30 planners from Lehigh and Northampton counties on the LVPC and Beitler is one of nine members of the  preservation board.

Referencing Thomases’ appointment, Lehigh Valley Commissioner Dr. Percy Dougherty said, “I think she’s a really great addition to the LVPC. We need someone to represent the interests of the city. She’s been very active in several different organizations, not only in terms of benefiting the city but also as a major advocate of farmland preservation.

Thomases represents the fourth district, which includes the western part of Allentown.

Beitler will work with the Bureau of Agricultural Land Preservation to preserve farmland within Lehigh County as a member of the Sterling Raber Farmland Preservation Board. Permanent preservation of farmland is accomplished through the purchase of conservation easements on eligible county farm properties. As of January 2015, the county has protected 257 farms covering 21,240 acres with perpetual agricultural easements.

Julie Thomases

Thomases retired in 2014 from her fourteen-year position as executive director of Embrace Your Dreams, a local youth development organization that served more than 10,000 Lehigh Valley children.

“I now have more time to dedicate to community service. I can think of no better way to ensure that our future generations experience a high quality of life than by participating in the regional planning process,” said Thomases.

Thomases currently serves on the newly formed Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council (LVFPC) that was a recommendation of the EnvisionLV process. Part of her interest in serving on the LVPC is related to her desire to implement the ideas put forth in the EnvisionLV Assessment Report: The Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy. These include growing our local food economy and reducing food insecurity.

“These goals are critically important now, as currently more than 10 percent of the region’s citizens are relying monthly on the region’s food banks to meet their food needs,” said Thomases.  In addition, 50 percent of the region’s food comes from California, underscoring the need for the area to be more food self-sufficient.

Joyce Marin, executive director of RenewLV said, “I’ve known Julie Thomases for many years and she cares deeply about the quality of life of Lehigh Valley residents.  She is knowledgeable about many issues that are important to residents, RenewLV and LVPC – from transportation and air quality to creating a more self-sufficient economy, and ensuring that the region’s natural resources are protected.  Julie is committed to understanding the complexities of the issues and doing the research needed to make an informed decision.

Ron Beitler

Beitler is a Lower Macungie Commissioner and farmland preservation advocate. According to Beitler’s Facebook pages, he said, “While the (Lehigh County farmland preservation) program remains funded currently at some level, a few years ago it was slashed substantially. We believe if a community truly values preservation the only way to do so permanently is to step up and purchase development rights. This is also the only fair way to treat landowners. Preservation by zoning is both political (therefore not permanent) and unfair.”

He went on to say in his Facebook post that he plans to push for a fully funded farmland preservation program by encouraging Lehigh County Commissioners to cash in on matching funds from the state. He added, “Along with our friends at RenewLV we hope to follow this issue closely in the upcoming Lehigh County Commissioner Election. They are the decision makers in terms of restoring funding to the program through the County budget process.”

Joyce Marin stated, “Ron has done a great job of understanding farmland preservation issues as they relate to local zoning and the county program. He is knowledgeable about the issues, and understands how to move the process forward to create change.  He is committed to improving preserving the quality of life in this region. He will be an asset to the farmland preservation board.”

Renew Lehigh Valley is a non-profit organization committed to promoting smart growth and smart governance in order to revitalize our core communities, preserve open space, and establish an economically and environmentally sustainable foundation for our region’s future growth.