Monthly Archives: September 2016

Join Us for Launch of Farmland Preservation Flash Mob/Photo Op

smile

Smile!

Please join us with your fabulous smile and show up for farmland preservation this Thursday (September 29th) at our inaugural RenewLV Farmland Preservation Flashmob/Photo Op!

This will be fun…and easy.

You will arrive by 5:30 p.m. at 4813 Meadowview Terrace in Zionsville (Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County.)

You will hold up or stand near the “Save It – Don’t Pave It” banners.

You will flash that smile of yours for the camera. We will post the photo to social media.  Easy-peasy, right?

And, if that doesn’t sound like enough fun, there’s a rumor that someone will be bringing a guitar and leading us in a chorus of “Big Yellow Taxi.”  You know the words:  “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…do-wa, do-wa, do-wa!”

saveitbanner
Please, invite your kids, friends and neighbors to join us. You don’t have to be a resident of Upper Milford Township to be in the photo. Everyone is invited. We consistently see that when we show up in support of smart growth ideas, change happens.

Maybe afterwards, we’ll all go out together for a bite to eat.

By the way, Upper Milford wins kudos for putting farmland preservation on the ballot in November. Voters will be voting on whether they want a local EIT (Earned Income Tax) to direct toward openspace preservation, including farmland preservation. This is the type of local strategy for which RenewLV advocates. When local dollars are pooled with county dollars, they can be leveraged against state farmland preservation dollars, mobilizing the maximum resources to save our precious farmland.

If you have a farm field in Northampton or Lehigh Counties and would like to schedule a future Farmland Preservation Flash Mob/Photo Op, please let us know.  Shoot us an email at smartgrowth@renewlv.org.
Does it make you happy that we are doing this?  Would you like to support us, whether or not you can show up on Thursday?  We appreciate financial support in any denomination.  To make a donation in support of RenewLV or the Farmland Preservation Campaign, please go www.renewlv.org/donate.  Thank you SO much!

PA farmland

We know that this is very last minute, but if you consider yourself a Lehigh Valley farmland preservation supporter, here’s something you can do tonight before the sun sets over the cornfields (9.14.16)… come out to learn more about what’s happening at the local municipal and regional levels and to show your support of farmland preservation at Upper Milford Township in Lehigh County tonight at 7:30 p.m.

RenewLV has been invited by the township attend their Open Space Committee and to extend the offer to you.  We’ll update the committee on RenewLV’s farmland preservation campaign, following Diane Matthews-Gehringer on the agenda.  Diane is Lehigh County’s recently hired Director of Farmland Preservation. RenewLV board member and Farmland Preservation Committee Chair, Julie Thomases, will be joining me for our presentation.

We’d love to see you, too.  We consistently see that when you show up for meetings like this, change happens.

In January of this year RenewLV held a “Save It Or Pave It” event where approximately 125 appointed and elected officials and interested citizens gathered.  It was a high-energy event.  There, we explored various strategies of the 15 outlined in our RenewLV Farmland Preservation Toolbox, including raising dollars locally to match with county and state dollars.

Representatives of Upper Milford Township were at that meeting and are now moving toward a referendum in November to have an EIT (earned income tax) raise money locally for farmland preservation and open space. (More information below.)

RenewLV believes that the leverage of local, county and state dollars will mobilize the greatest amount of funding for the county easement programs.

We are thrilled to hear of Upper Milford’s efforts.

If you are able to join us tonight, the meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Upper Milford Township building at 5671 Chestnut Street, Old Zionsville, PA  18068 (the former Kings Highway School Building.)

What’s going to happen there?  After Diane speaks Julie and I will be reviewing the RenewLV Farmland Preservation Snapshot that summarizes how each county is doing toward meeting the farmland preservation goal.  This goal is stated on page 35 of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s regional comprehensive plan:

“to preserve approximately 25% of the land in Lehigh and Northampton counties for agriculture.”

farmland-preservation-snapshot

To urgently work toward meeting this goal, RenewLV has recommended the restoration of funding to both county farmland preservation programs ($2 million per year for Lehigh County and $1 million per year for Northampton County) for ten years.

We will be updating everyone on recent progress made in Lehigh County toward funding their program (Lehigh County Executive, Tom Muller has proposed a budget that restores funding of $2 million for three years for Lehigh County.)

Saveitbanner.JPG

Also tonight, we will be bringing along and displaying our new SAVE IT – DON’T PAVE IT banners as seen in the photo above.

We need you!  We are inviting interested citizens to help us with our new photography/social media project in which people hold these banners up in a rural vista or farmfield in your community – perhaps a farm you own or to which you have access.  Preservation advocates will assemble with these banners for photos that RenewLV will widely distribute on Facebook, Twitter and through emails like this one.

Let us know if you’d like us to put a spotlight on the support for farmland preservation in your community.  We’ll happily schedule a day and time to come to you.

Some friends of mine helped me to create these banners which we just finished last Sunday night — so we are just NOW rolling out this project.  With your help, we can show our elected leadership the grassroots support for farmland preservation in the Lehigh Valley.

Here’s a brief summary of Upper Milford’s referendum from Tim Haas, their Assistant Manager/Secretary:

The Board of Supervisors deem it to be in the best interest and general welfare of Upper Milford Township to acquire interest in open space for the purposes of protecting, conserving,  and preserving undeveloped open spaces; forests and farmland; natural and scenic resources; and recreational and historical land. There will be a ballot question before the voters of Upper Milford Township at the general election of November 8, 2016, asking if they favor the imposition of an additional Earned Income Tax to finance the acquisition of interests in real property.

The ballot question to be asked is:

“Do you favor the imposition by Upper Milford Township of an additional Earned Income Tax at the rate of 0.1385 (%) percent on an annual basis beginning January 1, 2017, to be used for the purposes of financing the acquisition, protection, conservation or preservation of undeveloped open spaces or areas; forests and farmlands; natural and scenic resources; and recreational or historic lands; and payment of the attendant costs associated with such actions? YES or NO”

If the referendum passes, there will be an additional Earned Income Tax increase of thirteen and 85/100 ($13.85) dollars per ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars of earned income beginning in 2017. All revenue raised by the additional Earned Income Tax will be used to acquire agricultural conservation easements, finance the acquisition of open space, finance the protection of recreational or historical lands, and to pay the costs associated with such actions. The additional Earned Income Tax will remain in effect for at least five (5) years, at which time a new question can be placed on the ballot asking the voters whether they wish to rescind the additional tax.

We hope to see you tonight.  If you are an ardent farmland preservation supporter but cannot attend, please let us know by email at smartgrowth@renewlv.org or phone call at 484-893-1060.  We’ll put you on the list to be invited to show up for future photos!  Also, if you like the work we’re doing and want to keep the drum beat going for farmland preservation, please make a donation to RenewLV at this link.

 

Joining us for Lunch at The Easton Experience?

tomatoes-in-basketMany of you have signed up for The Easton Experience tomorrow, an exploration of how Easton, PA used local food as a focus of its economic development strategy.  For those that have not signed up, there is still an opportunity for you attend, if you act fast!

You will not want to miss this event! The Easton experience will provide the opportunity to hear from the people who made it happen!  We’ll start with Mayor Sal Panto and PA State Representative (and RenewLV Board Member) Bob Freeman telling us a little history of what it was like and how Easton’s amazing turn-around happened.

Dundore and Heister, the top shelf butcher at the Easton Public Market will be catering lunch for us, with five kinds of fabulous meat dishes and some vegan options, too.  Chef Mike Schnaulzer will be preparing the lunch at 11 a.m. in the demonstration kitchen designed and installed by Morris Black & Sons.

After the Mayor and Bob Freeman speak, a who’s who of Easton movers and shakers will tell us how they did it, followed by breakouts to explore the finer details.  During the panel discussion moderated by Dawn Hart, the Director of Community and Economic Development at the City of Easton, we’ll hear from Jared Mast of GEDP, Megan McBride of the Easton Public Market and the Easton Farmers Market, Kim Kmetz of Easton Main Street, Tod Auman of Dundore & Heister, Ben Scholl of Scholl’s Orchard, Jo Moranville of the Garlic Fest, Troy Reynard of Cosmic Cup and Two Rivers Brewing Company and Allison Czapp of Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

This event provides a GREAT opportunity to become inspired by the excellent work done in Easton, and hopefully take those lessons into your community.

Because The Easton Experience is so robust with lessons learned and networking and mentoring opportunities, the program will run from noon to 4 p.m.  We understand that this is a time commitment, but this is also a great opportunity to become inspired and connect with like-minded people.   If you cannot stay for the entire program, we encourage you to stop by for the lunch, and the Mayor’s presentation.

There is no cost to attend this event thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream.

Seating is limited, so please register today at:  http://tinyurl.comj6er2xf

Learn how one communitycreated economic prosperity from Focusing on Local Food

The Easton Experience – 9/13

Learn how one communitycreated economic prosperity from Focusing on Local FoodIf you have been to Easton in the last six months, you can feel that it’s a happening place. You know that they are up to something good.

Are you scratching your head wondering, “How did they do it?”  The restaurants keep getting better.  Small food and beverage businesses keep popping up.  The excitement keeps growing.  We have heard people talking about moving to downtown Easton.  What is going on there?

So much about their economic resurgence centers on local food.

We know that they have the longest-running continuously operating outdoor farmers market in the country, but the truth is, there is so much more happening.

Have you been intrigued by the “Easton Experience,”and want to learn more about what they did and how they did it?Join us for “The Easton Experience,” next Tuesday, September 13th at the Easton Public Market and learn what is in Easton’s “special sauce” from some of the people that were key to making it happen, including:

  • Mayor Sal Panto
  • State Representative Robert Freeman on the History of the Farmers Market
  • Jared Mast, Ambassador Program and the role of GDEP
  • Megan McBride, Easton Farmers Market
  • Kim Kmetz, Easton Main Street
  • Tod Auman from Dundore & Heister, “Why I came to Easton”
  • Ben Scholl of Scholl’s Orchard, The Farm/City Connection
  • Jo Moranville, Garlic Fest, Growing a Food Festival With Care
  • Serial entrepreneur, Troy Reynard, with Cosmic Cup
  • Allison Czapp, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley

We’ll start with lunch at noon, followed by a panel discussion, then small group table discussions.  You’ll become inspired and then be able to connect with panelists and other local resources for lessons learned and practical advice.

Lunch will be provided.  There is no cost to attend this event thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream.

However, seating is limited, so please register today at:  http://tinyurl.comj6er2xf

We hope to see you there!

Celebrate Farmland Friday by Speaking Out

Farmland Preservation Friday

Lehigh County Close to Funding Farmland Preservation – Your Help Needed!

Northampton County: The Push is on to Make Farmland Preservation a Budget Item!

Friends!

Yes, it’s Friday…and that means it’s Farmland Friday.  This time of year it’s a great time to eat local produce especially tomatoes, sweet corn and peaches.  But if you want to continue to enjoy local produce, open vistas, fresh air and clean water, if you don’t want traffic to get worse with increased development, it’s also important today to find your voice and reach out to your county executives and council members in support of farmland preservation.

Today.

This year RenewLV has been vocal in support of farmland preservation. RenewLV has recommended that both counties restore funding for farmland preservation to previous levels ($2 million for Lehigh County and $1 million for Northampton County.)

Now we need you to find your voice and speak out in support of farmland preservation.  Let your county elected officials know through emails, letters and phone calls how important it is to you that we restore funding for the county farmland preservation programs to previous levels.

People often tell us a story that begins: “When I was growing up in the Lehigh Valley…”  or “When I moved here in…”  Now is the time to tell your most moving story to your elected officials.  Now.  They need to hear from you today.

Here’s the update of what’s happening in Lehigh and Northampton counties on this topic:

In Lehigh County, County Executive Tom Muller and the Lehigh County Commissioners have heard us! They are working through the details on restoring funding to $2 million a year for three years from a combination of $1.5 million from the refinancing of a bond issue and $500,000 per year in gaming revenue.  We could not be happier (okay, we asked for ten years of funding, and they found three years — that’s actually really GOOD!)

If you live in Lehigh County, you should be proud and maybe event take a minute to say thank you.

Please reach out today!  It’s easy!  Here is the physical address for sending letters, the email addresses for sending emails and the phone numbers you can call to register your support.  It’s important that you reach out to both the council and the executive because they are two separate branches of government.

We’re told that email is the preferred method of communication.

Commissioners:  commissionersoffice@lehighcounty.org

Executive:  jillorosky@lehighcounty.org (I’m told email is the preferable method of communication)

Physical letters may be mailed to: Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S 7th St, Allentown, PA 18101

Phone:  610-782 3050 Commissioners, 610-782-3001 Executive

Over in Northampton County we have work to do. In council meetings a few months ago County Executive John Brown predicted a surplus in the existing farmland preservation budget adequate to meet demand for easements in 2017.  We would like to see a robust farmland preservation effort in Northampton County and have questioned whether surplus funds will actually be enough in 2017 to cover the demand for eligible farms in the pipeline.  The budget process is happening now, and Northampton County Council needs to ensure in this budget cycle that there will be adequate funds to cover the cost of those farms eligible for farmland preservation easements in 2017.

Now is the time for anyone who supports farmland preservation to make their voices heard.

If you are a Northampton County resident, it is necessary that your county council hear from you immediately.  Tell them that story of yours that begins, “When I was growing up in the Lehigh Valley…” or “When I moved here in…”  Tell them what impact you see development having today in your neighborhood and why you think preserving farmland is important.  Now.  Today.  Tell them that funding farmland preservation in the Northampton County 2017 budget is a priority for you.

This affects you!  According to the Assessment Report:  Local Food Economy, with the farmland that remains in the Lehigh Valley, we can only feed 24% of our population in the region on a traditional American diet!

Here is the physical address for sending letters, the email addresses for sending emails to Northampton County Council and Executive and the phone numbers you can call to register your support for farmland preservation.

Emails to Northampton County Council:  lzembo@northamptoncounty.org

To Northampton County Executive, John Brown:  ncinfo@northamptoncounty.org

Physical letters may be mailed to:  Northampton County Council and Executive, Northampton County Courthouse, 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042-7475

Phone calls:  610-829-6596 Council; 610-829-6300 Executive

If you send an email or a letter please copy me (smartgrowth@renewlv.org.)  I will be keeping a file for when we communicate with your elected officials and the higher the stack of communications, the more powerful the argument for farmland will be!

Here are some additional things you can do to celebrate Farmland Friday today:

  1. Stop at a local farm stand or go to a farmers market and buy local produce.  Local economies are built one dollar at a time.
  2. Take a photo of your favorite farmland vista and send it to us at smartgrowth@renewlv.org.  Let us know where farm field is located and we may use it in future social media.
  3. Let us know if you want to be on the Farmland Preservation Direct Action Team.
  4. We are going to be organizing people to attend future Northampton County Council meetings.  If you are interested in joining us, please let us know.
  5. We have plans to create a big banner that says, “Save It – Don’t Pave It,” and we’ll need some extra hands.  If you want to help, let us know.
  6. Make a donation to RenewLV today to support our campaign.

Thank you for your support of farmland preservation in the Lehigh Valley.  Through your efforts, you are leaving a legacy of farms as businesses, open vistas and local food.

Did you see that RenewLV’s Farmland Preservation Committee chair and board member, Julie Thomases had an editorial about farmland preservation published in the Morning Call?  Check it out here.