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Food in the Public Square

 

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Register for this event today!  

 

Dear Friends,

What’s your story?  We’re willing to buy you lunch to find out.

Today, I need your help with an important opportunity dealing with food and food justice in the Lehigh Valley.  It won’t cost a penny.  In fact, it will be pleasant, we hope deeply enriching, and we’ll even provide you with lunch.  You can reserve your spot at the table here.  We’ll have fun.

We need fun.

We know that things are not fair for everyone in the Lehigh Valley, especially when we talk about food.  Food insecurity is disturbingly common with over 70,000 people each month relying on the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast PA to feed themselves.  In their service area, one in nine people and one in six children struggles with hunger.  That’s certainly a conversation we need to have.

At the same time, in our region we see people opening food-truck businesses, some selling delicious ethnic foods, young farmers “digging in” to farming, seeing it as a viable business opportunity, urban millennials are starting rooftop gardens, immigrants are planting community gardens, school children are learning how to plant vegetables and we celebrate communities like Easton, PA who are forging a new economy with restaurants and food-related businesses like the new Easton Public Market.

So, we want to hear your (food) story.

You’re invited to join me and other members of our community to tell your story at the kick off of the Food in the Public Square – The Collective Human Experience project next Friday, May 20th at the Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd Street (6th floor) on Bethlehem’s Southside.

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There will be a full day of fun activities, but you are especially invited from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to the lunch/discussion.   We will treat you to lunch, a panel of scholars will explain why we’re having this conversation — and then…during small group table discussions, we’ll hear and collect your food-related stories.

Additionally, I’d like to ask you to bring a friend.  Not just any friend, though.  Please invite someone you know whose food-related story you believe has not been adequately told or heard.  If they need a ride, please offer to drive them.

We expect the stories we collect to be diverse.  They may illustrate the excitement of food entrepreurship, the frustration of food access related to age or income, what it’s like living in a food desert, what it feels like to not be able to access ethnic food or fresh produce, successful or failed experiences with gardening or farming, or some other related topic.

Permit me to explain.

RenewLV has been invited to partner with Northampton Community College and other organizations on an NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) funded project called “Food and the Public Square — The Collective Human Experience.”  Throughout the next six months, we’re hosting public forums and programs to generate humanities-based community dialogue about human and cultural values related to food.  It’s a fascinating project.  You can read more about it here:

www.foodinthepublicsquare

This conversation and our end product will be different than our previous community conversations that centered on food policy.  This conversation will recognize the powerful impact of personal stories — stories of food, family and community — stories “of the heart.”

During three public lunch/discussions in May, July and October we will be collecting stories about food in the Lehigh Valley.  Everyone is invited, but we are especially interested in hearing and recording the stories of the “under-heard.”

Later, an esteemed team of scholars will look at the stories we collect, identify themes and place them in an academic framework.

This will mean that these stories told at our events will be “heard,” in a deep sense, that they will get the attention of the academic community.   We are lining up bi-lingual Spanish/English table hosts, so please feel free to invite your native Spanish-speaking friends whose English proficiency might make them otherwise reluctant to participate.  And, since most people seem to like Spanish food, we’ll even have some of that for lunch.

The questions we will ask are:

  • How important is food for you?
  • Which are your concerns regarding food?
  • How do you make your food choices?
  • How have your eating practices changed between childhood and adulthood?

If you have enjoyed our previous lunch/discussions, we think you will really enjoy this one.  This format gives us an opportunity to get to know each other better, take a “deep dive” into what stirs us about the larger conversation of food, family and community, and perhaps make some new friends…”breaking bread” will do that.

But, space is limited, so you need to reserve your spot.  Please join us for lunch next Friday and share your “food story.”  Click here to register.

The lunch/discussion is just a part of a full day of activities.  If you could, it would be my recommendation that you clear your calendar for Friday in order to come early and stay late.

The day begins at 10 am with a nationally acclaimed scholar on the topic of food justice, Dr. Julie Guthman (If food justice is at all important to you, you will definitely want to come early to hear her!)


Here’s the day’s schedule:

  • 10 – 11:15 am  Dr. Julie Guthman, renowned scholar on food justice
  • 11:30 am  Lunch and Project Scholars  “Why have this conversation?”
  • 12:30 – 2 pm Community Conversation hosted by RenewLV
  • 2- 4 pm Poetry Workshop with Marilyn Hazelton or
  • 2 – 4 pm Second Harvest Food Bank Cooking Demonstration and Tasting
  • 4:30 – 6:30 pm Film Screening and Talkback:  Growing Cities @ ArtsQuest

Please reserve your spot and (and a place at the table for your friend) by registering at this link:

More details can be found at foodinthepublicsquare.com and the project’s Facebook page.  Additionally, here is a Spanish copy of the poster for distribution.

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Hope to see you there!

Smart Growth Book Club Presents… — CROSSROADS

 Jane Jacobs to be Discussed

Jane Jacobs to be Discussed

 

Becoming Jane Jacobs at the Coffee House Without Limits May 14 at 2 pm! Make friends, discuss civic activism, new urbanism, smart growth, making a difference, and anything on your mind about your neighborhood or regional growth. We will be discussing Becoming Jane Jacobs by Peter Laurence, […]

via Smart Growth Book Club Presents… — CROSSROADS

Smart Growth Book Club Presents…

Becoming Jane Jacobs at the Coffee House Without Limits

May 14 at 2 pm!

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Make friends, discuss civic activism, new urbanism, smart growth, making a difference, and anything on your mind about your neighborhood or regional growth. We will be discussing Becoming Jane Jacobs by Peter Laurence, which you can order for $34.95 by calling Allentown’s Moravian Book Store at 610-351-0849. We have copies, so come even if you don’t have this book.

Past events have been great – come, have a lovely chat and meet a new group of interesting people! You might learn something along the way too.

No registration required, just bring yourself and conversation!

 

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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…

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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!

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