As a Region, Are We Leaving Money on the Table?

Food Policy Meeting Oct 29 2015 REV 

As a Region, Are We Leaving Money on the Table?

At least 8.4 million people live 90 miles east of the Lehigh Valley in New York City. Yet produce is transported right by us from communities as far west of us as California and as close as Lancaster County. This food is headed to what might be the most lucrative market in the country and we should be capitalizing on our proximity to it.  A friend of RenewLV who works with a large food service company, believes that $200 million of what his firm spends on food could be sourced locally.  Another friend of ours who runs an organic catering business claims that there isn’t enough organic product for her to buy, even though organic produce would garner a premium price for the farmers or producers.

How can we fill the gaps in the regional food system so that producers make more money and farmland is preserved?

We would like to help local food and beverage entrepreneurs and the farmers who support them make more money, in other words, “grow the local food economy.”  We believe that if we are smarter about growing our local food economy, then more farmers will improve profits and keep their land in production, thus preserving farmland!

Join us for a lunch/discussion from noon to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 29th. The event is titled “Making Connections.” We’ll be delving into another facet of supporting food and beverage entrepreneurship and the ways that area farmers, food and beverage entrepreneurs and local producers can scale up their businesses by understanding the perspectives of distributors and institutional buyers.

This event has been especially designed for farmers and food producers.  So if this is you, please clear your calendar and plan to come!  There is no cost to attend, thanks to the sponsorship of Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream.  Space is limited, so reserve your spot early!

We hope to see you at noon the Fowler Center on Bethlehem’s South Side, 511 East Third Street, 6th Floor. Scroll down for more information about the luncheon.

Meet the Panelists for “Making Connections”

Jon Middleton, director of culinary operations at Muhlenberg College Dining Services

Middleton, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has used local, seasonal, sustainable and natural ingredients in his restaurants since the late 1970’s. He now grows his own on his 13 acre farm in southeastern Pennsylvania. He is interested in increasing the use of locally grown food in large institutions.

Food prepared by Middleton and his team, GrowLV, will be featured at the The Seed Farm’s 5th annual Farm-to-Table Dinner and Auction, Sunday, Oct. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. which supports the Seed Farm‘s programs to “grow new farmers.” Grow LV is a consortium of Sodexo culinary teams in the Lehigh Valley sourcing fresh, local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients.

Frank J. Baldassarre, owner Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters and Artisan Exchange West Chester LLC

Baldassarre has extensive entrepreneurial experience as an owner and principal in Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters and Artisan Exchange West Chester LLC. He brings more than 30 years of experience in the financial services sector, including executive level experience at a number of the regions’ banks. He possesses extensive managerial, lending, accounting and regulatory knowledge that has been instrumental in the success of both projects.

Golden Valley is a family-owned and operated artisan coffee roaster in West Chester, Pa. They specialize in roasting a large variety of organic, shade-grown, bird-friendly, and fair trade coffees.

Artisan Exchange, which operates out of the same building as Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters, offers small-scale dedicated manufacturing space to food entrepreneurs in a fully-equipped 27,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution center. The Exchange was a finalist for the PA Governor’s Small Business Impact Award this year. Baldassarre is interested in bringing a similar turn-key operation to the Lehigh Valley, so if you are a small-scale prepared food business operator — or want to be — and need legal prep space you will want to come to the event to meet Frank.

Andrew Puglia, procurement manager for the Farmer Outreach program at Common Market based in Philadelphia

Common Market works to build strong relationships with farmers and producers in our region to ensure that they procure the highest quality local farm food available. The Farmer Outreach team coordinates with farmers on crop planning based on customer’s needs and conducts annual audits of our farmers’ growing practices.

Common Market connects wholesale customers to farmers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware by marketing and distributing good food to schools, hospitals, grocers and workplaces. They aggregate food in our warehouse from about 75 regional producers and deliver six days a week to almost 150 public and private schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, workplaces, grocery stores, nonprofits and faith institutions throughout the Delaware Valley.

Cynthia James, Rodale Institute – Training a new generation of organic farmers

Cynthia, from Rodale Institute, will be available to answer questions about how farmers, even small-scale hobby farmers, can get organic certification.  Come hear how they are available to hold your hand through the organic certification process.

Cynthia James is the Program Manager for the Agriculture Supported Communities (ASC) Program at the Rodale Institute.

The Rodale Institute is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people and the planet through organic leadership, specifically through research and education programming.  Started by J.I. Rodale in 1947, the Rodale Institute is considered the birthplace of organic agriculture in this country.

Additionally, Rodale Institute’s hands-on educational programs are ideal for aspiring organic farmers and food-systems advocates. They provide experiential, skills-based education in organic farming. Students get a unique and comprehensive education by participating in all aspects of Rodale Institute’s diverse farm operation, learning from educators in the classroom and in the field alongside our team of experts.

RenewLV has a Farmland Preservation Committee, a Food Sustainability Committee and a Smart Transportation Committee. If you’d like to support our efforts, please reach out to us at  We also work on food issues together with our food policy partners under the larger umbrella of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council.  If you’d like to support these efforts, please let us know. 

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.

If you have attended one of our events and appreciate the work we do,  please support RenewLV financially with a donation by clicking here for online donations, or send a check to RenewLV at 1337 East Fifth Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015.  In order to continue to engage the public in our important work, we need your help.

Thank you for your interest and involvement in our cause.  I’m looking forward to continuing to work together with you to be a catalyst for action!

We maintain social media to keep you informed of the latest opportunities and issues related to our work. We invite you to connect with RenewLV through:

A copy of the official registration and financial information for Renew Lehigh Valley may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling, toll-free within Pennsylvania 1-800-732-0999.  Registration does not imply endorsement.

Posted on October 8, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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