Monthly Archives: November 2015

16 Days Until the 2015 Summit for Smart Growth – Join Our Fabulous List of Sponsors

RenewLV’s Biggest Event of the Year is only 16 Days Away.

Show Your Support by Joining our Fantastic List of Sponsors.

We need you in the room! You’re invited to our 3rd Annual Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities on Dec. 4, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown. Register now to guarantee your seat at the table.

The 2014 Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities at Hotel Bethlehem

We are actively lining up sponsors for the 2015 Summit. Becoming a sponsor shows your support for smart growth and sustainability in the Lehigh Valley. It’s also a unique opportunity for exposure for your firm among the region’s leaders. It’s not too late to list your organization at one of these levels:

Sustaining Sponsor: $5,000

  • One prominently placed banner at event entrance
  • On stage recognition
  • Corporate promotional table in reception area
  • Event signage (group and individual)
  • Logo in program and promotional material
  • Recognition in media/social media coverage
  • Six (6) tickets to the event (table with recognition at table)

Partner: $2,500

  • On stage recognition
  • Event signage (group and individual)
  • Corporate promotional table
  • Logo in program
  • Recognition in media/social media coverage
  • Four (4) tickets to the event

Contributor: $1,000

  • Signage (group)
  • Logo in program
  • Recognition in media/social media coverage
  • Two (2) tickets to the event

Community Supporter: $500

  • Signage at event (group)
  • Logo in program
  • Recognition in media/social media coverage
  • One (1) ticket to the event 

Join our 2015 Sponsors!

To sponsor this event, call us at 610-893-1060 or email us at

For more information about the 2015 Summit, our nationally recognized Keynote Speakers, dynamic line up of panelists or to register – click here

About RenewLV:

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.


Grow the Local Food Economy at the Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities 12.4

PA farmland

On Oct. 29 the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council gathered with individuals interested in growing the local food economy for a lunch/discussion on the topic of “Making Connections.”  Farmers, distributors, restaurant owners and community leaders connected with each other and learned about exciting possibilities to increase profits through understanding the institutional buyer and how to capitalize on additional profits from “going organic.”

Why is this important? Because growing a local food economy is one important strategy to preserving farmland and farmers in our region.

An informative panel of speakers kicked off the event, with Frank Baldassarre of Artisan Exchange explaining how to establish a for-profit brick-and-mortar cooperative manufacturing space with a commercial kitchens, retail space and distribution options. Cynthia James of Rodale Institute explained about the benefits and profit opportunities of going organic. Andrew Puglia of Common Market Philadelphia discussed closing gaps in product collection and distribution. This was the fifth in a series of events this year – which supported to the formation of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council.

So, what happens next? The conversations inspired during discussions will cointinue during RenewLV’s Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainability 2015 on Dec. 4 at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown. The Summit is known for attracting leaders from across the region to learn to collaborate and craft solutions to some of our most challenging problems. One of Summit’s keynote speakers, Judy Wicks, pioneered the use of local food in restaurants at the White Dog Café and founded BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) – a Localist Movement that connects leaders, spreads solutions and attracts investment toward local economies. Space is limited, so reserve your spot at the Summit here.

RenewLV organized the Oct. 29th event, with sponsorship of, Samuel Adams – Brewing the American Dream. Jon Middleton of Sodexo was unable to attend but shared his thoughts in writing about how local institutions like Sodexo could pump as much as $200 million into the regional economy by purchasing more local products.

Marc Rittle at Oct. 29 event

Marc Rittle of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley invited people to join the conversation by using #LVFood4All in social media before introducing panelists.

Vicky talking at Oct. 29 event

Vicky Bastidas of Camels Hump Farm at the Johnston Estate in Bethlehem (center) talks to Frank Baldassarre of Artisan Exchange (left) and local food entrepreneur, John Glagola, of the Wayfare Baker.

Brianna and Ross Marcus at Oct. 29 event

Briana McGonagle CACLV (center left), Ross Marcus, CACLV (center right) and Sherri Penchishen (right) of the Bethlehem Health Department discuss reducing food insecurity.

After the panel discussion, experts and participants broke into small group table discussions.  These discussions gave participants an opportunity to share information and forge new solutions in a collaborative way.  They gained insights from each other into scaling up the food and beverage businesses for institutional buyers and closing gaps in the regional food system were cultivated.

Each table discussed different sub-topics related to the food revolution and participants agreed upon actions items for moving forward that were shared with the entire group. At the table focusing on Connecting with Institutional Buyers, Michael Brack, Sarah Edmonds and Sophia Feller agreed that if customers (especially patients in large healthcare institutions) spoke up and demanded local food then those institutions would be more likely to buy it.

Frank Baldassarre, Victoria Bastidas, John Glagda, Trudy Siak, Chris Kauzmann, Erik Ruth and Larry Dugan comprised the Food Incubators and Distribution table discussion. Together they determined that a survey to gauge interest and potential use of an incubator space is warranted. The challenge is to connect farmers/producers to students/entrepreneurs and distributors. If it can be done they believed such a space would create synergy and sharing of resources between like-minded entrepreneurs and farmers.

The table discussion about Local Food Delivery Services revealed a need for more customer and consumer education on how to use and enjoy quality products. Some solutions might be chef demonstrations at point of sale outlets or restaurants, websites with recipes and grower hosted meals. Participants identified brand loyalty as an integral part of the solution. Robert Siliani of Organics Live, Janice Graver and Robert Aptaker participated in the discussion.

Cynthia James of Rodale Institute, Bridget Salantri and Peter Crownfield of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities talked about starting an education campaign to inform the public about the positive benefits of organic farming at the Transition to Organic table.

Participants in the table discussion about Scaling Up Food-Based Business proposed the development of a tool library to provide access to equipment needed for food-based businesses.  Lucile Boehm, Amy Baringer, Chris West and Brian Moyer of Penn State Cooperative Extension Office, participated in this discussion.

Briana McGonagle and Ross Marcus of CACLV, Janet Ney of the Second Harvest Food Bank, Dangy Danga-Storm, Sherri Penshishen of the Bethlehem Health Department, Sheikh Dukuly and Diane Fegley of The Allentown Brew Works discussed Food Insecurity. They agreed on the need for one person or entity to help coordinate perishable food rescue from farmers and restaurants. Identifying organizations that accept unprepared and prepared food donations would help restaurants who have extra food. Participants told the larger group their action item would be to bring a food rescue program to the Lehigh Valley, similar to one in Bucks County called “Rolling Harvest.”

The group focusing on Food Aggregation discussed the differences between a food hub which is centrally located and aggregation points that are geographically dispersed. They determined the Lehigh Valley could benefit from a Farmers’ Cooperative. People in this discussion included Allison Czapp of Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Andrew Puglia of Common Market Philadelphia, Peter Todara, Rich Fegley of The Allentown Brew Works, Dr. Meagan Grega of the Kellyn Foundation and Peter Crownfield of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities. Their action item was to disseminate information about the aggregation process and keep their eyes and ears open for possible aggregation points throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Preserving Farmland by Growing Farm Business was discussed by April Niver of U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright’s office, Heather Skorinko, Amy Cook, Diane Donaher of the Northampton County DCED and Attorney Don Miles. Together they determined issues for the agricultural entrepreneur are support in finding resources, identifying profitable markets and reliable distribution. Additionally, they discussed the need for funding farmland preservation; providing legal advice on the multitude of regulations and insurance information; and providing incentives for those who want to buy and farm land.

Thanks to all who attended the fifth meeting of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council this year, with a special thank you to panel discussion moderator, Marc Rittle of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Special thanks to Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream, the sponsor of the event and Wendy Landiak, of Shankara, for the wonderful vegan lunch.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for the 2015 Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities

About RenewLV: 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.

Join Us for the Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities 12/4

Now is the time.

Now is the time to sign up to reserve your spot at the Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities on Dec. 4th at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown. We have quite an exciting day lined up. You’ll be hearing more about this, but just for starters, you can hear Judy Wicks of the White Dog Cafe and BALLE (the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) and Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns.

Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns will discuss the future fiscal implications of funding suburban infrastructure

Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns will discuss the future fiscal implications of funding suburban infrastructure

Judy Wicks of White Dog Cafe and BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.)

Judy Wicks of White Dog Cafe and BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.)

Both are fabulous speakers and authors with national followings. Judy will talk about local economies, especially local food economies and Chuck, from a fiscally conservative perspective, will be speaking about how we cannot afford to maintain the infrastructure of conventional suburban development.
The work done here at RenewLV focuses on promoting smart growth and efficient governance in the region. We collaborate with the community partners, share information, promote different ideas to support revitalizing our core communities, preserving open space, and creating an economically and environmentally sustainable foundation for our region’s future growth.

The last two years, toward these ends, we we held Summits for Smart Growth — dynamic events that brought regional leaders and citizens together to focus on smart growth in the Lehigh Valley.
Last year we attracted over 200 people from around the region to participate in important regional discussions. It was great!

This year, we’re doing it again. We’ve structured the Summit this year to focus on moving from ideas to action.
We have local, regional and TWO national experts lined up to discuss and address the serious questions that will define our region’s future.

Now is the time. Please join us for the 3rd Annual Summit for Smart Growth on December 4th at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Allentown. In addition to hearing from experts, you will have an opportunity after lunch to share your ideas as we craft strategies for moving forward. The cost is $75, but two meals, breakfast and lunch, are included.

Click on this link now to reserve your spot.

Also, if your company or organization would like to be a sponsor, it’s not too late. We have sponsorship levels at $500 and up. If you want more details, send me an email or give us a call at 484-893-1060.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Summit!

Read Latest RenewLV Newsletter

Oct. 2015 newsletter page 1OCt. newsletter page 2 Oct. 2015 newsletter page 3 Oct. 2015 newsletter page 4 Oct. 2015 newsletter page 5

RenewLV Develops Farmland Preservation Scorecard for County Candidates

Lehigh Valley County Commission/Council Candidates Weigh-in on Farmland Preservation
“Save It or Pave It”

The biggest challenge facing the Lehigh Valley’s local food economy is the loss of farmland to development, according to the Assessment Report: Local Food Economy.
At Renew Lehigh Valley we care about preserving farmland in the Lehigh Valley.
At the committee level, we have been researching and analyzing this issue for more than a year. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s 2005 Comprehensive Plan identifies on page 35 that the region’s goal is “To preserve approximately 25% of the land in Lehigh and Northampton counties for agriculture.”
The number of acres being developed is vastly outstripping the number of acres being preserved — in Lehigh County development outstrips preservation by a ratio of 3 to 1. The farms, the farmers, and the local food economy is at risk of being destroyed by development. In order to meet the Lehigh Valley’s Comprehensive Plan’s goal, we must ramp up funding for county farmland preservation programs now.
We believe that today’s election, Tuesday’s November 3rd will determine whether “we save it or pave it” based upon who gets elected to Lehigh County Commission and Northampton County Council.
Polls will be open tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We hope that you vote. We hope that you are a “farmland preservation voter.”
RenewLV Board member and chair of the organization’s farmland preservation committee, Julie Thomases, stated, “At RenewLV we are concerned with the loss of farmland in the region. That’s why we asked the candidates questions and developed a “farmland preservation scorecard.” With the pace of development in the region, we are concerned that the Lehigh Valley will not be able to meet the LVPC’s goal of preserving 25% of its land for agricultural use unless we get very serious very soon about funding county preservation programs. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”
We gave grades (A-F) to the candidates based upon their answers to the following questions. Some of the final grade was objective (in Lehigh County, based on funding levels), some was subjective (based on our conversations with candidates). The counties are different, with different mechanisms for funding farmland preservation. So our questions were different, one county to another. In summary, here are our grades for the candidates:

Lehigh County:
Democratic Candidates:
  Dan Hartzell C
  Joanne Jackson A-
  Bob Martin A-
  Hilary Smith A-
Republican Candidates:
  Marty Nothstein B
  Brad Osborne – D-
  Amanda Holt – not available
  Vic Mazziotti – C+

Northampton County:
Republican Candidates:
    John Cusick A
    Matthew Dietz A
    Democrat Candidates:
    Scott Parsons A
    Ken Kraf (uncontested, not included)
    Robert Werner (uncontested, not included)
    Lori Heffner – A
QUESTIONS to Lehigh County Commissioner Candidates:
1. Do you support farmland preservation?

Democratic Candidates:
Dan Hartzell Yes
Joanne Jackson Yes
Bob Martin Yes
Hilary Smith Yes
Republican Candidates:
Marty Nothstein – Yes
Brad Osborne – Yes
Amanda Holt – not available
Vic Mazziotti – Yes

2. Where is farmland preservation on your list of priorities on a scale of 1-5 (1 high, 5 low)?
Democratic Candidates:
Dan Hartzell – 2
Joanne Jackson – 1
Bob Martin – 2 or 3
Hilary Smith – 2
Republican Candidates:
Marty Nothstein – 1
Brad Osborne – 4 or 5
Amanda Holt – not available
Vic Mazziotti – 1

3. What is the most effective way to preserve farmland?
  a. Conservation easements (deed restrictions)
  b. Agricultural preservation zoning
  c. Agricultural security areas
All available candidates chose a. Conservation Easements
Democratic Candidates:
Dan Hartzell – Conservation Easements
Joanne Jackson – Conservation Easements
Bob Martin – Conservation Easements
Hilary Smith – Conservation Easements
Republican Candidates:
Marty Nothstein – Any options available including easements
Brad Osborne – Conservation Easements
Amanda Holt – not available
Vic Mazziotti – Conservation Easements

4. Do you believe that the county should have a line item in the budget for farmland preservation?

Democratic Candidates:
Dan Hartzell Yes
Joanne Jackson Yes
Bob Martin Yes
Hilary Smith Yes
Republican Candidates:
Marty Nothstein – Yes
Brad Osborne – Yes
Amanda Holt – not available
Vic Mazziotti – Yes

5. At what level per year would you support county funding for farmland preservation easements:
1. none
2. $250,000 Brad Osborne, Vic Mazziotti, Dan Hartzell
3. $500,000 Marty Nothstein
4. $750,000 Joanne Jackson*
5. $1 million Hillary Smith, Bob Martin
* Joanne Jackson said that she supported funding farmland preservation at $750,000 in year one and $1 million in year two.

QUESTIONS to Northampton County Council Candidates:

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has a goal of preserving 25% of the Lehigh Valley’s land for agriculture. At current funding levels both Lehigh and Northampton Counties will fall short since the rate of development is outpacing preservation.

In 2007 Northampton County instituted a .5 mill tax in part to raise money for open space preservation. It’s raised about 3.7 million each year. Over the last few budget cycles there have been debates about using this money in other areas.

1. Question – Should money generated by this .5 mill tax be used for uses other than those within the original intent of parks or preservation of farmland and/or environmentally sensitive areas?
Cusick: Since the passage of the .5 mill tax, additional sources of funding have become available that can be budgeted for farmland preservation. This would include money that Northampton County receives from Act 13, the impact fee generated from natural gas drilling across the state as well as revenue from table games at the Sands casino. It is also possible to designate revenue from the Hotel Tax for Tourism toward improving and expanding county parks. I strongly support the use of these funds for those efforts. A
Deitz: No, those funds were voted in under the defined purpose of farmland and/or environmentally sensitive areas. This includes not using tax payers money for projects such as the Glovas property and failed golf course that my opponent sponsored. (I have attached articles referencing these projects) These type projects use up the funds and affect the creditability of the intended programs. Better oversight needs to be in place to ensure the integrity and longevity of the program. A
Parsons: The .5 mill tax is not a dedicated tax, it would be great if it was. I would support that. What I will say is in the past 4 years the funding that was budgeted covered all the farms and environmentally sensitive areas that qualified and were brought before council.
Hefner: No, it should be directed for the original purpose except in an egregious case such in the case of a disaster like a massive flood. It should be used for farmland preservation, open space and smart development. A
2. Follow up – If you support preservation, but do not support using this tax money how do you propose funding the farmland preservation program moving forward?
Deitz: I do believe we should use the .5 mill rate voted on by the residents of Northampton County for the farmland preservation program. A
Parsons: I support funding the Open Space Plan for parks, environmentally sensitive areas and farmland preservation. The parks and environmentally sensitive areas through the budget. Farmland preservation through the budget, matching funds from the state, dedicated money from the Chrin development, and matching monies from participating townships. A
3. Do you think preservation of 25% of land for agriculture Valley-wide is a reasonable and achievable goal?

Cusick: Yes. While I would have no control over what happens in our neighboring county, in Northampton County we have been blessed to have a very capable qualified person serving in our farmland preservation department and I am confident she help make it happen. A
Deitz: I do believe it is reasonable and we could also work with the local municipalities for appropriate zoning rules. A
Parsons: Yes. Here in Northampton County we have preserved all the farms that have applied and qualified over the past 4 years. A
Heffner: I would support farmland preservation and the preservation of environmentally at risk areas. We have to protect the water supply.
4. What else do you want voters to know about your position on Farmland Preservation?

Cusick: As a member of Council I served as liaison to the farmland preservation and agricultural extension. I understand the importance of preserving farming as well as farms. Agriculture must be seen as a vital part of the local economy and a viable profession for the next generation. A
Parsons: If re-elected I will continue to support these programs and make sure that we budget enough money each year to keep the program moving forward. I’m proud of the work of the farmland preservation board and the administrator of this program. A
Heffner: I will try to make sure that the county will maintain a reasonable part of its budget to maintain farmland, parks and environmentally sensitive areas to preserve the future of the county. We need smart growth. The county should look into state funds and grants. A