Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Letter to my People about Food by Hasshan Batts

13700158_1081140251966555_5535394534559415572_n

On May 20th, I attended a community discussion, Food in the Public Square, addressing food, family and culture hosted by Northampton Community College and RenewLV at the Fowler Center on Southside of Bethlehem. The program aimed at capturing the “food stories” of the participants. Although the event attracted a number of Latino participants, I was disappointed to find that of the 120 people in attendance to address the critical issue of food, an issue that greatly impacts the Black community, I was one of three Black people present.

FPS Collage 1

I have been searching for answers, asking, “Where is the Black voice in community discussions like this that are held on important issues impacting our lives?” I befriended the organizer and brainstormed methods and creative approaches to sincerely engage people of color in the discussions from a place of value, dignity and appreciation. I scrutinized her social media reach from a social network analysis approach and decided to share the post on my social media sites, hoping to increase participation from the populations I believe are most impacted by food deserts, food insecurity, poor food quality and the inequities of resource distribution as a whole. I was surprised to find of the hundreds of local Black and Brown people on my social media contacts, none had registered to join the discussion.

I was confused and decided to consult the people in my network. I discussed the lack of participation with my closest friends and confidants. It was shared with me that community discussions around necessities such as food are considered a privilege that many Black and Brown people don’t believe they have the luxury to discuss, because they are in the world struggling to feed their families. I write with the hope of reframing the lens of discussions around food. I challenge Black, Brown, poor and oppressed people to participate: because we simply cannot afford not to contribute to the discourse around food. People are suffering greatly in our community due to food insecurity. When discussions occur that may impact decision making and policies, it is often the case that the people most impacted are silenced or ignored. In this case, that is not the situation. The previously, “under-heard” are especially welcome to attend. That being said, I believe it behooves individuals struggling to afford or access fresh, nutrient rich food to come on Sunday and share their stories. By doing so, you will be advocating for the changes that we so urgently need to see occur in our community.

Community dialogues are not just a tool of the privilege, or a tool of oppression to pacify the masses, but have the potential to engage, document and amplify the voices of the often unheard, ignored and silenced. Food Justice is a critical issue in our community, and it significantly impacts our neighbors’ lives and health outcomes. I believe an inclusive and diverse discussion around food, family and culture like this one is relevant and critical to the proper development of our community.

You may come and share, but will you really be heard? I am very familiar with and respect the methodology being used in Sunday’s community conversation, and have been asked to serve as a table host for the table discussions. The facilitation technique to be used, Art of Hosting, recognizes that our problems are too complex for a hero leader to solve and that we must all come together to craft solutions to our most difficult problems. Solutions will come as we continue to come together in safe spaces like this one and build relationships with others.

I believe that this event represents a unique opportunity for the Black voice be heard on this important topic. At this event, all personal stories shared will be audio recorded and some people will be invited to have their stories video recorded. A team of scholars will study the stories shared for themes. Additionally, some of what is shared will be captured through graphic recording, a note-taking technique that puts what is said into simple, easy to understand visuals that lend themselves to being shared on social media.

unnamed (1)

I humbly encourage people of color and the disenfranchised to join the conversation tomorrow, this Sunday, July 24th from noon to 2 p.m. at Northampton Community College’s Fowler Center at 511 E. 3rd Street, Bethlehem. Please come and share your voice, document your story, fight for equity and advocate accountability for the basic human need for sustenance. Your participation can have a big impact throughout the Lehigh Valley.  For more information:  www.foodinthepublicsquare.com

Draft 7 (1)

Hasshan Batts was invited to be a guest blogger on this blog.

Messages Image(1084438447)

Hasshan is a Social Worker with the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (www.nhclv.org), Director of Training and Education for Practitioners Research and Scholarship Institute (www.prasi.org); board member of Resurrected Community Development Corporation, founding board member of the Lehigh Valley Social Impact Center and 2015-2016 Rider-Pool Collective Impact Action Learning Fellow in Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Hasshan Batts is also a consultant, inspirational speaker and life coach. He is a survivor, healer, son, father and friend. For more information, go to: http://www.coachbatts.com

You can do it ALL this Sunday!

Friends:

You can do it all this Sunday!

You’ve probably heard that there’s a big event going on about food at SteelStacks…   Taste: a celebration of farms and food.   This is a great opportunity to support local farms and local food between noon and 4 p.m.  Lynn Prior of Buy Fresh Buy Local has been working hard to make this a fantastic experience and we encourage you to support it.

FPS Collage 1.jpg

In concert with this event, for those who understand that there are issues with our food systems and appreciate the power of personal narrative to move mountains, RenewLV has been working with Northampton Community College to organize a community conversation on the topic of food, “Getting into the Kitchen.”

We believe that open-hearted story-telling in a safe space among people of different cultural backgrounds is critical to building relationships, increasing empathy, creating community healing and ultimately solving our most challenging community problems.  Joining us for this next discussion is a proactive step that you can take in this direction.  After past discussions like this, participants have said that they connected to people and made new friends.  Please join us on Sunday.

Please reserve your seat today at http://tinyurl.com/zklsn8t 

The aim of this discussion is to collect “Food Stories” rich with the flavors and textures of your family and culture.

The community conversation will take place from 12:15 to 2 p.m., with registration starting at noon at the NCC Fowler Center at 511 E. 3rd Street, Bethlehem — just a block from the Taste event!

You can do both.  You can do it all.

Come join us at the Fowler Center at noon, for the guided conversation about food, family, community and culture.  Then head over to the Taste event.

Our discussion is part of a six-month project, Food in the Public Square,, an exploration of the local food supply coordinated by Northampton Community College in conjunction with RenewLV, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Hispanic Center, BuyFresh,BuyLocal Lehigh Valley, and the Penn State Agricultural Extension.unnamed (1)

As such, we are collecting “Food Stories” from people like you.   We think you have a story and we’d love to hear it.

All participants will have their story captured with a audio recorder.   Some will be captured by video.  If you’re wondering what this might look like…here are three short (60-90 second) videos of Food Stories from the last event:

Marylou Seixas from the Southside of Bethlehem spoke about cross-generational cooking.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZq0GoWA8E0

CACLV’s own Javier Torros shared his insight regarding food and cultural preservation.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_02xPtkMLI

As many of you know, food access and security are issues with too many people in the Lehigh Valley.  Hasshan Batts, social worker and inspirational speaker “Coach Batts” shared his thoughts on the topic.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hIVAEXCCoY

We want to hear the “Food Stories” most precious to you, your family, your community and your culture.  After the event a team of scholars from area colleges and universities will see how your story fits within the larger intellectual conversations focusing on food policy and food justice.  That’s when the mountains can start to move.

Please join us at noon at the Fowler Center and then come to the Taste event at nearby SteelStacks.  Other food related activities you can enjoy after the discussion include cooking demonstrations, tastings, children’s activities, the screening of two movies:  “What’s on Your Plate”( 2 p.m.) and “Plant This Movie” (3:45), as well as “Food Poetics” workshops led by award-winning poet Marilyn Hazelton for both children and adults.  It’s going to be fun!

There is no charge for the community conversation, but space is limited.  Reserve your spot today:  http://tinyurl.com/zklsn8t

Native Spanish-speaking individuals who feel more comfortable speaking in their native tongue will be able to share their stories in Spanish as we will have native Spanish-speaking table hosts.

Refreshments will be served, thanks to donations by Giant and Fresh Market grocery stores.

If you want to learn more about this project, go to the website at: Food in the Public Square – The Collective Human Experience

You’re Invited to a Community Conversation about Food, Family, and Culture: “Getting into the Kitchen”

Friends,

Kelly Allen of Northampton Community College has asked me to reach out to you with an invitation for your participation in a free Community Conversation on Sunday, July 24th at 12:15 p.m.

Draft 7 (1)

 

Kelly and a dynamic team of scholars and community partners invite you to an exciting Community Conversation, “Getting into the Kitchen.” This interactive conversation will take place at Northampton Community College’s Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd Street on Bethlehem’s Southside. This represents the second in a three-part conversation as part of the six-month “Food in the Public Square” project that launched in May of this year, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The aim with this project will be to collect “food stories,” rich with the flavors of “your” family and culture.

While Sunday’s event will be facilitated by academics and community organizers, the information gathered and assessed will come directly from you and the other the participants.

The goal of these conversations is to learn about and capture the food culture of the Lehigh Valley. What are the food decisions we make and how are they influenced by who or what we are? We have wonderful ethnic food traditions tied to our food, but often these meals are time consuming to prepare. This conversation, “Getting into the Kitchen” will also ask, “Who’s in the kitchen?”

To see how we have captured food stories from a previous community conversation,13325740_10153923735529093_6440831049553915667_n

Marylou Seixas, resident of South Bethlehem shares her cross-generational family food stories.  Click here to see her video story on YouTube

Rather than use our scholars as an authority to disseminate information, we are looking to you for the wisdom. The scholars create the questions to provoke discussion:

  • Given the demands of modern life and families with two working parents, how are you handling the preparation of our meals, especially those important foods or meals connected to our heritage?
  • How have your eating and cooking practices changed between childhood and adulthood? Why?
  • How do you make your food choices with regard to food preparation?
  • Do you have certain food preparation rituals? Please describe them and the roles played by your various family members.

We want to hear the stories most precious to you, your family and your culture. What you share will be recorded through audio and video. After the event, the scholars will figure out how your stories fit within the larger intellectual conversations focusing on food policy and food justice.

At the event Kelly Allen, a Northampton Community College professor who is managing this project, will explain what this project will accomplish and why this discussion is important.

You can reserve your spot at the table here .

“If you want to learn more about the Taste event, organized by Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, go to their website.

We hope to see you Sunday, July 24th at the Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd Street (6th floor) on Bethlehem’s Southside. We want to hear your story.

“If you want to learn more about this project: follow this link to the Food in the Public Square website

We hope to see you Sunday, May 20th at the Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd Street (6th floor) on Bethlehem’s Southside. We want to hear your story.

Here’s the whole day’s schedule:

Draft 8

 

Food in the Public Square

 

1 (2)

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.

.

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.

spanish

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!

janeFullSizeRender (5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

coffeehouse books

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)

JonSpeaksfood report

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

thumbs

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.

kid

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

saveitorpaveit

“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.”

Crosswods

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!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,631 other followers