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Join the Lehigh Valley Food Revolution!

Friends:

We invite you to help us grow the local food economy at a community conversation next Monday, April 25th from 5:30-8 p.m. at Williams Hall of Lehigh University.

Last March 29th RenewLV gathered 125 people to discuss food entrepreneurship and learn about a successful food hub in Boston, MA.

Last December, at the RenewLV Summit for Smart Growth Jon Middleton of Sodexo described his compelling vision for a food hub that included distribution, aggregation, a shared used commercial kitchen, a restaurant and a retail store.Food Event April 2016

This is a big idea, so we are going to take a second bite at that apple next Monday.  Register here.

The Assessment Report:  Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy states, “The local food economy generates $17 million in economic activity for the Lehigh Valley and has the potential to contribute much more.  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, businesses and service providers.” (p. 1)

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Help identify and fill the gaps in our regional food system.  Jon Middleton estimates that if his firm, sourced all of their food locally, it would bring an additional $100 million per year into the Lehigh Valley’s economy.

If you are available Monday, please join us to:

  • Better understand the needs of the institutional buyers
  • Better understand what makes a food hub successful.
  • Hear about a collaboration between the Lehigh University and the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council’s Infrastructure and Logistics working group to determine “what’s already out there” in terms of aggregation and distribution facilities
  • Connect with supports for starting and scaling up food-based businesses
  • Understand the role of farmland preservation in growing the local food economy

This event is a collaboration between RenewLV and Lehigh University’s Center for Community Engagement. It follows the day-long Community-Engaged Learning and Research Symposium, an inaugural event that will showcase the breadth and depth that impact-making practices bring to Lehigh University, neighborhoods and the world — sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, the Center for Community Engagement and Lehigh University Community Fellows.

We hope to see you next Monday.  There is no charge for this event, but seating is limited, so reserve your spot here today.  Refreshments will be provided.

 

p.s. Please park at Zoellner Art Center and walk to Williams Hall at 31 Williams Drive, Bethlehem 18015

Thank you to our sponsor, Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream

When You’re Happy, We’re Happy

RenewLV would just like to say…

peeps

When you’re happy, we’re happy…

Over the course of the last year, many people answered the call to “Join the Local Food Revolution.”

You came.  You saw.  You ate.  You talked.  You shared your passion for fixing some aspect of our broken food systems.  You met interesting people doing exciting work. You made new connections.

Since December of 2014, we’ve gathered together seven times to look at improving various aspects of the Lehigh Valley’s complex food system on these topics:

  • December 12, 2014  Ann Palmer: Food Policy Councils, EnvisionLV
  • January 29, 2015 Growing a Local Food Economy Conversations
  • March 30, 2015 “What’s Cooking?” Local Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship
  • May 29, 2015 Focus on Urban Agriculture
  • September 24, 2015 Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Formal Launch
  • October 29, 2015 “Making Connections” Growing Our Own Food Economy
  • February 26, 2016 “Save It or Pave It” Farmland Preservation

How did these events go?

Repeatedly we heard from people that they enjoyed them.  People talked about “the energy in the room.”  We saw that each event attracted a full room of passionate people willing to roll up their sleeves and innovate solutions.

We conducted a satisfaction survey half way through the schedule of events to see how we were doing.

87% of respondents said they learned information or made a connection that helped them with a project.

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They also said they were inspired and enjoyed the energy and hopefulness of like-minded people working in the Lehigh Valley.

They further noted that they learned about exciting programs and positive shifts in thinking to support healthy people and communities.

But some people also said, “Sure, there were some great conversations, but what actually come out of those meetings?”

That’s a fair question.

We gathered the people together to inspire, connect and listen to each other.  We believed that when we come together like this, we create an environment where it’s easy to work together to self-create solutions.

Did that happen?

Todd Nemura of the Children’s Home of Easton ran into a funder at one of our lunch/discussions.  Already supporting one program of his organization, the funder encouraged Todd to apply for funding for a second program.  Todd followed up and he was awarded a grant that permitted him to provide healthy food and gardening education to approximately 100 urban children.

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Cathy Coyne of LVHN said that she found the lunch/discussions good places to connect and find out what other people in the community are doing around healthy food.  As a result, when the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council formally launched in September 2015, she was energized to co-chair the Consumer Education working group.  This group is collaborating to create information about where to access fresh food so that doctors can easily hand that information to their patients.

Jesse Barrett of Rodale Institute connected with Zeke Zelker at one of our events and they collaborated to provide nutrition and gardening information at an existing program with which Zeke is affiliated, The Community Canvas Program.  This four year old in-school program, a partnership between LVHN and Lehigh Valley Art Spark, now includes Rodale Institute as a partner.  This year Rodale Institute will provide a farmer to present urban gardening concepts and “how food grows” education in addition to garden towers for each school.  This program combines healthy living and food and gardening education with the arts for approximately 150 to 400 students in each of six elementary and middle schools.  The student artists are given a lunchbox full of supplies and asked to create a piece of art work based upon what they learned in the school assembly.  Not only are they learning about healthy living through gardening, but they are expressing what they are learning through art!

It worked!  These gatherings are a place where innovation and collaboration happen. We couldn’t be happier.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg!  We would love to know if you participated, “What was your experience?  Do you have a quick story of some good that came out of attending one of our lunch/discussion meetings on food?

Please let us know.

Also, if you have not already registered for the next gathering of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council, our Semi-Annual Meeting on 4/5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethlehem, you will want to do so now.  flyer

This is the chance you have to plug into the exciting work of the one or more of the working groups on these topics:

  1. Food Access – limited access, government assistance emergency resources, traditional retail markets, non-traditional urban markets
  2. Consumer Education – healthy diets, where to find and how to use nutritious food
  3. Organic Agriculture and Community Gardens – community gardens, urban farms, alternative food resources, organic agriculture methods
  4.  Food Respect and Recovery – food recovery, compost and recovery
  5.  Land Use – farmland preservation
  6.  Farm to School – improving healthy food options in Lehigh Valley schools through increased utilization of local foods, educating community school boards, administrators, and teachers of the many benefits of utilizing local food purchases
  7.  Farming – overcoming farming barriers, new farmer training and retention, planning for the local food eocnomy
  8.  Infrastructure – distribution, processing, aggregation, distribution, wholesale buyers, farms to institutions
  9.  Entrepreneurship – growing the local food eocnomy through addressing barriers to start up and scaling up of local food and beverage businesses

It’s sure to be a really dynamic evening.

We would LOVE to have you come join us so that you can contribute your voice to the larger effort, plug into a working group that captures your passion and be a part of the Lehigh Valley’s food revolution.

Mark your calender for The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Semi-Annual Meeting gathering on April 5th from 5:45-8 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley at 424 Center Street, Bethlehem PA  18018.

Register now here,  

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5246/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=81103

Or, send an email to sdalandan@lvfpc.org

Or call 484-893-1060 to reserve your spot

The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council is a project organized using the principles of Collective Impact in which the following nineteen organizations work together to gain traction on reducing food insecurity and growing the local food economy:

The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council includes United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, CACLV, Second Harvest Food Bank, Rodale Institute, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, the Nurture Nature Center, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Sodexo, The Seed Farm, RenewLV, Penn State Extension, Seven Generations Charter School, Lafayette College, New Bethany Ministries, Lehigh County Community Revitalization and Development, Northampton County Department of Economic Development, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership.

We look forward to seeing you on 4/5!  Register today!

Joyce Marin, Executive Director of RenewLV

Join RenewLV at “Save It or Pave It” Lunch Discussion on 2/26

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“Save It or Pave It” Lunch/Discussion on 2/26 at NCC’s Fowler Center on Bethlehem’s Southside

Is the loss of farmland in the Lehigh Valley and the development and the traffic it brings of deep concern to you?
If you answer, “yes!” then we hope that you’ll attend RenewLV’s “Save It or Pave It,” Lunch/Discussion on Friday, 2/26 from noon to 2:30 p.m. on the 6th floor of NCC’s Fowler Center on Bethlehem’s Southside.

What will happen there?

1. We will review the regional goal for farmland preservation:
The 2005 Lehigh Valley Comprehensive Plan states the regional goal for farmland preservation as “To preserve approximately 25 percent of the land in Lehigh and Northampton counties for agriculture.”
2. We will ask: “Are we on track to meet this goal?”
3. We will explore strategies to preserve farmland, asking: “What are the steps that citizens, local municipalities and county leadership can take to preserve the agricultural character and economy of our region before it is lost to development?”

With the arrival of the LVPC’s projected 146,000 more people to the Lehigh Valley over the next 20 years, it is RenewLV’s position that we must do more to be proactive in preserving our farmland. As we see development outpacing farmland preservation, we believe that efforts to preserve farmland at all levels of government need to be supported and increased.

According to Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s Assessment Report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy, “the biggest challenge facing the Lehigh Valley local food economy is the loss of farmland (page 1).” Furthermore, “The local food economy generates $17 million in economic activity for the Lehigh Valley annually and has the potential to contribute much more.”

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Participants of the 3rd Annual Summit for Smart Growth discuss farmland preservation with Jeff Zehr, Maria Bentzoni, Percy Dougherty, Forest Wessner Jr, and Julie Thomases

There are many benefits to farmland preservation:

• Farmland is the foundation of our local food and agricultural economy, preserving farmland is economic development
• The Lehigh Valley’s farms and farmland provide much of the beauty, character and identity of our region
• Protecting farmland helps to keep our property taxes down. Cows don’t go to school.
• Protected farmland and open space increases property values. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s report, Return on the Environment came to that conclusion.
• Protected farmland has numerous environmental benefits. Water filtration, ground water recharge, air purification, flood control, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration.
• There is strong landowner interest in farmland preservation.

Polls repeatedly show that the people of the Lehigh Valley overwhelmingly want their farmland and open space protected, yet why isn’t more being done?

Come to our event and find out.

There is no cost to attend this event, but seating is limited, so it is necessary that you register. The lunch will be locally sourced.

We especially hope to see elected and appointed officials from the region’s rural municipalities…and farmers. Register now and reserve your seat.

Questions? Email us at smartgrowth@renewlv.org or call 484-893-1060.

An Historic Idea with a New Twist to Improve Food Security in the Lehigh Valley

An Historic Idea with a New Twist to Improve Food Security in the Lehigh Valley 

Friends,

Did you know that 40% of the food grown in America is wasted from field to plate.  This food waste can be captured to distribute local, fresher foods to the Lehigh Valley agencies that serve the hungry.

What’s old is new again.  Have you heard about “gleaning” and the impact it can have on reducing food insecurity in the Lehigh Valley?

In 1857, Jean-Francois Millet painted a scene of women “gleaning” or harvesting leftover grain.

Jean-François_Millet

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gleaning as the act of gathering grain or other material that is left after the main crop has been gathered.  Applied regionally, gleaning would involve a network of volunteers to collect excess fresh food from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers and restaurants to provide it to those in need.

This old world concept has the potential to end food insecurity in the Lehigh Valley!

Why is this important?  Monthly, almost 70,000 people are relying on Second Harvest Food Bank for food, and surplus produce can help feed our region’s hungry.

In order to make gleaning work in the Lehigh Valley, we need you.   Are you a citizen who wants to do your part to make sure that your neighbors have enough nutritious food to eat? Regular people can make a huge impact, but they must first understand the existing food pantry system and be sensitive to the needs of the farmers and food producers.

The Food Recovery and Respect working group of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council is hosting a freeGleaning Workshop to inspire, inform and mobilize volunteers.  They will meet on Feb. 17th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Northampton County Human Services Building, 2801 Emrick Blvd., Bethlehem, PA 18020.

This informative workshop will feature Cathy Snyder, from Bucks County Rolling Harvest, a successful gleaning program since 2009 that connects farmers to neighbors in need.  It grew from one person’s effort to a successful not-for-profit organization.  Reservations are necessary to attend, as seating is limited.

Nancy Walters, Co-Chair of the Food Recovery and Respect working group, wants to increase the amount of fresh, nutritious food that the food pantries in the Lehigh Valley distribute to people who need it by recovering food that would otherwise be wasted.  She already began gleaning efforts on a smaller scale through an all volunteer effort at the Easton Hunger Coalition, that has already been mentored by Rolling Harvest.  Nancy’s hope is that the work in Easton will inspire an expanded volunteer network throughout the entire Lehigh Valley.  These efforts can start as simply as a citizen asking a farmers market vendor “What are you going to do with that extra stuff?” and then delivering it to a nearby pantry.

But, to work well at a regional level  volunteers must understand the logistics and respect the farmers’ properties.   Please come to this workshop to learn what you need to know in order to have an impact.

Event seating is limited.  Please reserve your place at this important workshop by emailing an RSVP to Brooke Kohler (bkohler@nurturenaturecenter.org) or contact Nancy Walters (nancywalters@rcn.com or 610-217-6262 cell) with questions.

 Hope to see you there!

5 Things We Learned at the Summit for Smart Growth

 

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Lively Crowd at the Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities on 12.4.15 at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown

Last Friday, the Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities brought together almost 200 regional experts, community leaders, and interested citizens for a day of action-packed and collaborative discussion to move from ideas to action on issues related to the region’s growth. Thank you to everyone who helped make the day a booming success!  We learned a lot and were inspired.

The top five things we learned are:

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  1. Passenger Rail from the Lehigh Valley to New York City area is possible by 2020 

In the afternoon table talk sessions, we heard how roadblocks for smart transportation can be removed.  Joe McHugh, senior vice president of government affairs and corporate communications with Amtrak, said a Lehigh Valley passenger rail service was something the region could make happen if it were to unite behind such a goal and “push it” through friends in high places.  He alluded to Gov. Wolfe’s “pro-rail” sentiment as an asset in addressing the issue today.

McHugh suggested starting with a Lehigh Valley to New York City area route, citing the high number of bus trips between the areas daily.

Rail service in the Lehigh Valley isn’t something that is just on McHugh’s radar screen. He cited a 2010 PA State Rail Plan that identified the Lehigh Valley as a strategic freight corridor and the fact passenger rail in the eastern corridor of the state is thought of at Amtrak as a “Vision Project,” meaning it’s thought to have good potential but isn’t funded.

Speaking to the benefits of rail, McHugh stated, “Everywhere we go, economic development follows.  If you are looking for a different way to revitalize a downtown, rail service brings it.”

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  1. Smart growth can generate more income for a municipality than conventional suburban development

Dense, mixed-use development generates more sustainable tax revenue for municipalities than large, single-use suburban developments, like warehouses and big-box stores.

Keynote Speaker Chuck Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, calls the tendency for municipalities to keep expanding from their traditional downtown footprints using a conventional suburban development style, the Growth Ponzi Scheme.

Marohn told Summit attendees that our ever-increasing rate of growth is unproductive and has buried us in financial liabilities.  He said this “post World War II type of growth does not create real wealth – rather the illusion of wealth.”  He recommends returning to a traditional pattern of development – the downtown cityscape that formed when long ago people started to build and populate communities.

RenewLV Board member and Lower Macungie Township Commissioner, Ron Beitler, used a local example to describe the development “scheme.” He referenced an historic home, located in Lower Macungie Township, that was renovated into office space and he compared it to a warehouse on the same amount of township land. The home, located in the center of the township at a busy intersection, generates more income per acre than does the large warehouse. The lesson – investing in existing infrastructure generates more money for municipalities.

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  1. Farming is business and supporting and preserving it promotes economic development 

Keynote speaker Judy Wicks, author, activist and entrepreneur and local economy pioneer, illustrated how using locally produced products that are high quality, healthy and responsibly produced, can sustain a successful business and preserve farmland.

In a socially responsible model, businesses are more than just ways to generate profit.  Profits can also improve employees’ standard of living and be directed toward community building activities.

Gary Smith, CEO of Chester County Economic Development Corporation, described the benefits of looking at farms as business.  In Chester County he directs economic development incentives and financing to farm business.  This creates jobs for Chester County while preserving farmland.

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4. New Urbanist/Smart Growth developments are being built in the Lehigh Valley

Andy Twiggar, co-founder and principal of Dunn Twiggar Company, LLC, described their plans for the Waterfront project along the banks of the Lehigh Valley River.  He showed the drone masterplan of the neighborhood and 200 Summit attendees joined him on a “magic carpet ride” through the streets of Allentown’s newest neighborhood. If you want to take the ride yourself, and we highly recommend it, click here.

This brand new Main Street – with retail, office, residential and recreation space – will be built along the Lehigh River in Allentown just south of the new American Parkway Bridge near the America on Wheels Museum.

The finished project will include 12 new buildings constructed so that they create a dynamic, urban, mixed-use landscape for tenants (retail and restaurants), residents and visitors. The main street, Waterfront Drive, will run parallel to the new River Walk and be near two existing city streets – Allen and Furnace.

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  1. Sustaining our local food economy requires creation of one or more local food hubs

Jon Middleton of Sodexo and the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council’s Founders Team, shared his wisdom and big vision for expanding the local food economy through the creation of local food hub.   His vision includes five functions:

  1. Aggregation – a place, partially refrigerated, where local farmers can bring their produce
  2. Distribution – a central procurement officer for institutional purchasers to contact regarding the availability of local product and trucks and drivers available to deliver those products in the Lehigh Valley
  3. Shared use commercial kitchen incubator – a legal space for cooking and cleanup that food and beverage entrepreneurs can rent by the hour as they grow their businesses
  4. Manufacturing – a place to scale-up food and beverage production with support such as marketing and packaging
  5. Restaurant and retail – a place that allows the public to taste and purchase local products

The creation of a food hub will help us grow our local food economy and preserve farms in the process. Middleton projects that if his company sourced all of its product locally, doing so would infuse 200 million dollars into Lehigh Valley’s economy.

To capitalize on the momentum of the day and execute these great ideas, we need you.  Attendees participated in the creation of action plans on these and related ideas.  It’s not too late for you to be involved.   If you are interested in seeing these ideas happen, we would love to get you involved.   Please contact us and we will connect you to the right people, committee, or resource.

If these ideas excite you, you can donate to our organization at renewlv.org.  Thank you to our sponsors who made the Summit possible:

Questions? Call us at 484-893-1060 or email us at smartgrowth@renewlv.org

 

 

 

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

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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”

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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

Making Connections: Attention Farmers and Food Entrepreneurs, this One’s for You!

Attention Farmers, Food Entrepreneurs

and Those Who Love Them!

Do You Want to Scale Up the Local Food Economy?

This Event is for You!

Food Policy Meeting Oct 29 2015 REV

Friends,

With the support of the newly formed Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council, RenewLV is hosting a FREE lunch/discussion from 12 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Fowler Center on Bethlehem’s South Side, 511 East Third Street, 6th Floor and you’re invited!

This event, titled “Making Connections,” will present some compelling ideas on how to support food and beverage entrepreneurship and the ways that area farmers, food and beverage producers can scale up their businesses by understanding the perspectives of distributors and institutional buyers. The benefits of “going organic” (and the increased profits of doing so) also will be discussed.

This event has been especially designed for farmers and food producers.  So if this is you, please clear your calendar and plan to come!  

Supporting our region’s farmers and food producers is also important, so please come and help ensure the Lehigh Valley can develop a vibrant local food economy.

Many thanks to our sponsors — Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream and Wendy Landiak, owner of the beloved vegan Asian fusion restuarant, Shankara.

Space is limited.  To reserve your spot, register today!  http://ow.ly/RZOwJ

The event will unfold as follows:

Starting at noon we’ll hear from our panelists and then break into small group discussions at the tables, where you can network, share information and move “from ideas to actions.”

We will be asking the question: “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’s, Jon Middleton, 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 aren’t enough organic products for her to buy, even though organic produce would garner a premium price for the farmers and producers.  How can the Lehigh Valley capitalize on these opportunities?

We will explore how to close gaps in the regional food system so that everyone makes more money and farmland is preserved.

Small table discussion groups will explore options that can 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 keep their land in production thus improving profits and preserving farmland!

Panelists for “Making Connections”

jon middleton

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 and believes efforts to buy local from just one large institution could result in as much as $200 million kept in the region annually.

Food prepared by Middleton and his team from GrowLV is featured each year at the Seed Farm‘s Farm-to-Table dinner. GrowLV is a consortium of Sodexo culinary teams in the Lehigh Valley sourcing fresh, local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients.

Frank Baldassarre

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 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.  This event presents a unique opportunity for you to connect with Frank, hear his ideas, and perhaps be one of the first to benefit from his interest in developing Lehigh Valley food manufacturing and distribution center.

Andrew Puglia

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

Common Market is a mission-driven food distributor of local foods to the Mid-Atlantic region.  They work 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 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

Cynthia James, ASC Program Manager, Rodale Institute

Cynthia James from Rodale Institute will be available to answer questions about how farmers and gardeners can get organic certification.

Rodale Insitute’s hands-on 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 a team of experts.

We hope to see you on 10/29!

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