See What’s Growing in Easton This Saturday

carrotsOne of the many inspiring, exciting things about our lunch/discussion last week was hearing from Sophia Feller of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership in Easton*, about the boom in community gardens/urban farming in the city.

You’ll have a chance to see some of this work for yourself Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. when the WWNP hosts its community garden fair at Paxinosa Elementary in Easton.

The fair will include a plant exchange — you bring one, you take one — along with a plant giveaway (donations please).

There’s a chance to weave on the community loom, as well as the opportunity to meet Boomer, an Easton canine celebrity.

You can find the garden along North 12th Street in Easton, near 12th and Northmapton streets.

The event coincides with Bike Smart Easton’s Paxinosa Bike Day, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the elementary. Bike Smart Easton is designed to encourage kids to be active bike riders. It connects kids with professional bike instructors who teach them to treat bicycle riding with respect.

*We should note that the WWNP is, like RenewLV, a program of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.

Help The Environment and the Community at the Great South Side Sale

southsidesaleAt RenewLV, we value environmental stewardship and community building.

The Great South Side Sale, happening this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Fourth and Buchanan streets in south Bethlehem, is an example of both these things.

And its organizers need your help.

The sale needs people to act as greeters at its tent Saturday, and to fold clothing, straighten up tables, and set up/clean up at the beginning and end of the event.

If you’ve never heard of the Great South Side Sale, it works like this: Every year, when students move out of Lehigh University, they leave things behind — clothing, desks, tables, mini-fridges, books, curtains, rugs, etc.

The school puts all those items up for sale. The proceeds fund children’s education programs in south Bethlehem. Last year, the sale raised close to $20,000.

So by volunteering at the event, or spending money there, you’re helping build the community. By giving the Lehigh students’ stuff a second life, you’re helping the environment.

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit this link. You can call the Lehigh University Community Service Office at 610 758-6674 if you have any questions.

Speak Out For Farmland and Open Space Preservation in Lower Milford

bogturtle“Not in my backyard.”

It’s a saying that has its own acronym (“NIMBY”), and one that’s often used to signify a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of something new being built in your corner of the world.

It’s not really used as a compliment. We equate NIMBYism with the idea that these folks don’t care where something disruptive goes, as long as it’s not near them.

What do we call it when we see something that’s not in our backyard, but still affects us?

Take the Geryville Materials quarry project in Lower Milford Township. If you live in, say, Bethlehem or Bangor or Emmaus, it may not mean much to you.

But it should, especially if you care about things like preserving farmland and open space.

For as far back as anyone can remember, Lower Milford Township supervisors have made a commitment to preserving farmland.

For more than a decade, Lower Milford and the quarry project have been locked in a legal battle over the company’s plans to mine rock at the property.

Tonight, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will hold a hearing on the 127 acre project from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the township headquarters, 7607 Chestnut Hill Church Road in Coopersburg.

To speak at the hearing, contact DEP Community Relations Coordinator Colleen Connolly, at DEP’s Northeastern Regional Office, coconnolly@pa.gov or at 570-826-2035. You’ll also be able to register on the day of the hearing.

If you can’t attend the hearing, you can share your comments in writing. Send them to:

Mike Kutney, P.G.

Pottsville District Mining Office

5 West Laurel Blvd., Pottsville, PA 17901

No matter where you live, if you are a supporter of farmland preservation or preserving the environmental integrity of region, we recommend that you mark your calendars and plan on attending this meeting or write a letter.

Why is it important for you to go to give the DEP your input?

First, the quarry site is at the top of Mill Hill, one of Lehigh County’s last highland nodes, with over 600 acres of contiguous woodlands and wetlands.

According to a Morning Call article from June 2005, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has said the quarry site is close to an area called Big Beaches that is considered a region of ecological importance statewide. Citizens of Lower Milford Township have been organizing against the quarry and for the preservation of this land.

The Appalachian Mountain Club lists the region as one of Pennsylvania’s “critical treasures.” Bog turtles —  considered threatened by development by the federal Endangered Species Act — and a number of kinds of breeding trout have been found on or near the site.

The township has more than 3,000 acres of preserved farmland, hundreds of which are adjacent to the proposed quarry. It’s also next to a working farm.

For all these reasons, this project affects more than just Lower Milford Township.

Attend the hearing. Speak out. Talk to your elected and appointed leadership about your support of farmland preservation.

It’s not a matter of “my backyard.” It’s OUR backyard.

Smart Transportation Should Involve Pedestrians

pedestrian2

Every year in America, thousands of pedestrians die in motor vehicle accidents.

In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, according the U.S. Department of Transportation. Judging by historical data, 2015 will probably see a similar number of deaths.

Instead of numbers, let’s focus on two names: Abbie Zukowski and Anna Lewis, both victims of recent fatal pedestrian crashes in the Lehigh Valley.

Anna, an Allentown grandmother, was killed in a horrifying hit-and-run crash March 15 on Airport Road.

Abbie died after being struck by a car May 18 in her hometown of Emmaus, a few blocks from her elementary school.

Her death is particularly poignant because Emmaus has worked on a multi-pronged strategy to improve pedestrian safety over the last two decades.

The circumstances behind the two accidents are different, but they both underscore the same point: the issue of pedestrian safety urgently needs our attention.

It’s not enough to just give pedestrians tips on how to walk more safely.

We can’t tell people “Use crosswalks” and “Wear bright clothing” and then continue to build out communities that don’t have sidewalks or those that regularly experience unsafe vehicle speeds.

We can’t shake our heads after a fatal accident and say “They shouldn’t have been walking there.”

Instead, we need to push for improvements that make travel safer for people behind the wheel and on foot.  When we make communities safer for pedestrians, we make them safer for everyone.

Here are five ways to accomplish this, courtesy of the American Public Health Association (APHA):

  1. Reduce speeds. According to a report by Smart Growth America, 61 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes happened on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or more.
  2. Improve your street design. Streets in both rural and urban communities should be designed for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, and should accommodate people with disabilities. RenewLV supports Complete Streets as a concept that makes sense for all municipalities to adopt.  Municipalities should consider planting street trees and instituting “road diets” in order improve their community’s safety and sense of place.
  3. Work together. Local government, law enforcement agencies, LANta and PennDOT should all have the same vision for making traffic safer, with input from the community as well. Improvements and enforcement are both equally important.
  4. Keep kids safe. This is our responsibility as adults. While child pedestrian deaths dropped between 2002 and 2012, that’s more of a function of fewer kids playing outside rather than the result of some larger public safety policy. Programs like Safe Routes to School make it safer for kids to walk and bike. Kids walking and biking to school has numerous health and community benefits, too, and should be encouraged.
  5. Encourage alternative transportation. “When walking biking and public transportation programs are strong, they’re in the public eye — making them more visible to drivers,” the APHA says. Public transportation — along with walking and biking — can also reduce the number of drivers on the road, leading to a better air quality, a citizenry getting more exercise and a healthier community overall.

By the time you read this, another Lehigh Valley family could have gotten the same horrific phone call the Lewis and Zukowski families got. It’s not a pleasant thought, but statistics aren’t on our side.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. You can campaign in your community for planning that accommodates vehicles as well as pedestrians. You can petition your public officials to support alternative transportation.

At RenewLV, we’re committed to smart transportation. That means making sure people get where they’re going safely, no matter how they choose to get there.

Increased Farmland Preservation Efforts Needed in the Lehigh Valley

Forsythia Farm Photo(1)

As many of you know the Assessment Report that guides the work of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council sounds the alarm for the need for farmland preservation.

A RenewLV editorial in support of RenewLV’s farmland preservation initiative appeared in Morning Call over the weekend. Here’s the link…

http://www.mcall.com/opinion/yourview/mc-land-preservation-lehigh-valley-marin-yv–20150522-story.html
My name is on it, but it was truly a dynamic collaborative effort of RenewLV’s Farmland Preservation Committee.  It would not have happened without input from all committee members and without RenewLV board support by Julie Thomases, Dave Lobach and Ron Beitler and oversight by board chair, Michael Drabenstott.
It would also not have happened or — been as powerful — without the farmland preservation facts presented by our region’s farmland preservation professionals, Jeff Zehr of Lehigh County and Maria Bentzoni of Northampton County.

A sincere thank you to all of you who helped make this happen.
Please feel free to share this with your friends and networks.
If you are a Facebook friend, the link is:  https://www.facebook.com/RenewLV?fref=ts
Please post it on your wall and share it among your network of friends and supporters.

And, if you’ve been meaning to reserve your place for Friday’s 5/29 lunch/discussion at the Fowler Center on Bethlehem’s Southside from 12-2 p.m. on Urban Agriculture:  Join the Lehigh Valley’s Food Revolution, we still literally have a couple of seats left.  We have an informative and dynamic event lined up.  More information here.

Register now at:

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5246/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=74531

Joyce Marin

Executive Director

Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Invites People to Join the Local Food Revolution With A Focus on Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture revolutionizes the way people are growing food all over the country, including the Lehigh Valley.

That’s why RenewLV and the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council have dedicated their latest Growing the Region’s Food Economy event to Urban Agriculture.

“Join the Lehigh Valleys New Food Revolution” on Friday, May 29 from noon to 2 pm. at the Fowler Center in South Bethlehem for the third of four lunch discussion events related to growing the local food economy and hosted in partnership with the Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream.

Food access is not a given for every resident of the Lehigh Valley. Each week, roughly 70,000 people rely on the region’s food banks in order to eat. Urban agriculture can help remedy that problem. “Urban agriculture is a creative approach that can be transformational to the Lehigh Valley in growing a local food economy.  It makes small scale growing ventures profitable, connects people to each other, feeds our citizens and improves nutritional health,” said Joyce Marin, Executive Director of RenewLV.

The public is invited to join RenewLV and the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council in exploring urban agricultural projects in the Lehigh Valley and beyond — and how these can be scaled up and replicated throughout the region. Panelists will illustrate the economic impact of their urban agriculture efforts as well as the ways that their efforts can reduce food insecurity in the region:

  • Jesse Barrett from Rodale Institute will explain Rodale’s new Organic Allentown project (which includes farmers markets, growing towers and the importance of organic).
  • Sophia Feller, Director of Urban Agriculture from the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership in Easton will describe the impact of the Easton Urban Farm that produced 1,400 pounds of food last year as well as various community gardens throughout the city).
  • Katelyn Repash of Greensgrow, will share how this Philadelphia organization grows community through gardening, food shares, food vans, cooking demonstrations and hosting festivals and events.
  • Lauren Blood of Triskeles, also of Philadelphia, will explain how a focus on youth education in urban agriculture (afterschool and summer programming) can create job and life skills that translate into economic opportunity for them and their neighborhoods.
  • Linda Borghi, Biodynamic SPIN farmer and founder of Abundance Life Farm in Walker Valley, NY, will talk about how to make money with urban agriculture.

Informed by knowledgeable professionals, guests will participate in Table Talks, strategizing on how the Lehigh Valley can effectively move “from ideas to actions” on a variety of topics related to urban agriculture:

  • Urban Farming – Sophia Feller, West Ward Neighborhood Partnership
  • Community Gardens: Getting It Started and Keeping It Going – Tina Amato, Allentown Health Department
  • Farmer’s Markets – Jesse Barrett, Rodale Institute
  • Youth and Urban Agriculture – Lauren Blood, Triskeles; Patrick Markham, Central Catholic High School
  • Growing Food, Flowers, and Neighborhoods through Urban Agriculture – Katelyn Repash, Greensgrow
  • Business Planning for Urban Agriculture – Carolina Martinez, CADCB; Sherri Penchishen, Bethlehem Health Department
  • Nutritional and Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture – Hollie Gibbons, St. Luke’s University Health Network
  • Keeping Food on the Table:  How Urban Agriculture Can Reduce Food Insecurity – Janet Ney, Second Harvest Food Bank; Marc Rittle, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley
  • To Bee or Not to Bee: The Role of Beekeeping in Urban Agriculture – Sharon Zondag, Lehigh Valley Beekeepers

Participants will enjoy a locally-sourced lunch provided by Sodexo at the Fowler Center in South Bethlehem, 511 E. Third St.

There is no cost to attend this event, but space is limited so pre-registration is required.  To reserve your spot, go to:

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5246/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=74531

5-Stunning-Vertical-Vegetable-Gardening-Ideas

The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council (LVFPC) is a collaboration of sixteen founding partners working together to implement the ideas in the Assessment Report:  Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy, one of the reports funded by the three-year $3.4 million HUD-funded EnvisionLV process.

LVFPC founders include:  the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, the Nurture Nature Center, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Rodale Institute, CACLV, Counties of Northampton and Lehigh, Lafayette College, Seven Generation Charter School, St. Luke’s University Health Network, the Lehigh Valley Health Network, Jordan Heights Neighborhood Revitalization, New Bethany Ministries, Penn State Cooperative Extension Office and RenewLV.

The May RenewLV Newsletter is Here!

Friends, 

We’re pleased to present you with the latest edition of the RenewLV newsletter. Among the things you’ll find inside:

  • A look ahead at our May 29 lunch/discussion on urban agriculture, and look back at our March event on food entrepreneurship.
  • A report on the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s development report.
  • Information on finding a CSA/farmshare near you.
  • A welcome to two new members to the RenewLV family: board member Dave Lobach and intern Susan Dalandan.

On a related note, we should take a moment here to thank ALL the members of our family. We couldn’t have done any of things described below without the help of our staff, wonderful volunteers, board members, and generous sponsors. Thank you!

 

Join the Food Revolution: Urban Agriculture Lunch/Discussion on 5/29

Friends,

I have heard it said that the way to change the world is to throw a better party.

We're using that advice to organize a food revolution in the Lehigh Valley.  This is a unique type of movement. There will be no demonstrating in the streets.  It will look like a party with good conversation and tasty local food on the menu.  

This is a revolution in which you create a powerful shift by making a simple decision about what you put on your plate and in your mouth: eat local.

It turns out that you can transform your health, your neighborhood and the regional economy by thinking a little bit differently and choosing more local food.  

Imagine that.

But, how do we get traction about transforming urban neighborhoods through greening efforts?  On Friday 5/29 we're coming together to learn what's going on in the exciting world of Urban Agriculture in the Lehigh Valley...and beyond. We will hear about transformative ideas from people who are creating livable, sustainable, connected communities in the Lehigh Valley and in Philadelphia.

You're invited to come sit at our table for lunch and a discussion to learn more about this radical but delicious idea...the Lehigh Valley's New Food Revolution.  We're meeting on 5/29/15 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Fowler Center on Bethlehem's South Side at 511 E. Third Street.  

"Join the Local Food Revolution"

Dynamic guest speakers will tell us about projects and opportunities happening in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.    

We are hosting this with the support of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy council including the collaborative efforts of sixteenpartners... United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Second Harvest Food Bank, Rodale Institute, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, CACLV, the Counties of Lehigh and Northampton, St. Luke's University Health Network, the Lehigh Valley Health Network, the Nurture Nature Center, Lafayette College, Jordan Heights Neighborhood, Seven Generations Charter School, Sodexo, New Bethany Ministries and RenewLV and a special thanks to our sponsor, Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream.

Our conversations are grounded in a larger effort to grow the local local food economy, "move from ideas to actions" and implement recommendations from Buy Fresh Buy Local's "Lehigh Valley Food Economy Assessment Report."  

A large part of transforming the health of our neighborhoods through urban agriculture is figuring out ways that we can remove barriers for neighborhood greening efforts.  The panel discussion of knowledgable urban farming practitioners will be followed by small group table discussions where you can roll up your sleeves and craft practical solutions to challenges you face in your neighborhood.

There is no cost for coming to our party, but pre-registration is essential.  SEATS ARE LIMITED.  Click here now to reserve your spot at our table. Our last two events were at capacity, so if you want to join us, do not delay...reserve your spot NOW.

GOP Lehigh County Commissioner Candidates Weigh In on Funding Farmland Preservation

GOP

Friends,

Smart Growth = Save Our Lands, Save Our Towns.

When I wrote to you a couple of days ago, I told you that I would be attending Monday night’s GOP Candidates Night for Lehigh County Commission to ask where candidates stand with respect to funding farmland preservation, an important tool in saving our lands.
Today I’m writing to you with the answer…

Background:
Four seats for Lehigh County Council are up for grabs. The Republican primary will feature a five-person race that includes three current commissioners:
 Amanda Holt, 32, of Upper Macungie, current commissioner
Brad Osborne, 59, of South Whitehall, current commissioner
Vic Mazziotti, 68, of Allentown, current commissioner
Marty Nothstein, 44, of Lowhill Township, Olympic gold and silver medalist in cycling, executive director of the Velodrome
Dean Browning, 59, of South Whitehall Township, former county commissioner

The four winners in the primary will advance to the November election and run against the four winning Democrats.

Competing for the Democratic nominations are:
Dan Hartzell, 63, of South Whitehall Township, a recently retired Morning Call reporter;
Joanne Jackson, 68, of Center Valley, a former Allentown school director;
Bob Martin, 54, of Upper Macungie, who has worked in marketing and corporate communications;
Hillary A. Smith, 36, of Lower Macungie Township, a freelance copywriter and marketing professional who serves as vice chairwoman of the Lehigh County Democratic Committee.

Lehigh County in the past has allocated funds to the farmland preservation fund ranging from $2M annually from 2006-2010 to a low of 0 in 2011. In 2015 the county allocated $250,000. When the County allocates money it receives $2.50 cents in Commonwealth funding for every dollar.

Compensating landowners market value for development rights (purchasing easements) is generally considered a fair and free market way to preserve farmland over the long term. Second, it’s a fact that preservation reduces local and state municipal obligations to provide services and infrastructure related to conventional suburban development.

Preserving farmland can be a key component to keep taxes sustainably low over the long term.

For every dollar we spend to preserve farmland that is zoned suburban it saves us .15 to .50 cents on each one of those dollars down the road. This figure is even higher if we leverage our dollars with state and county.

The question was posed “Would you support restoring funding of the County Farmland preservation program to previous levels?”

Answers were recorded digitally, but are posted here in an abbreviated fashion.

Marty Nothstein: “I’m a conservationist.” “I own preserved farmland.” “Development is important but so is preserving our countryside.””We need to look at more ways to preserve farms.””We need to do a better job of finding strategic ways to preserve including partnering with townships.” “We need to do a better job of finding money…” “When you have farmers that want to see their land protected forever, I think that’s important to residents of Lehigh County.”

Amanda Holt: “Our natural resources our important and it’s something that’s talked about in the Pennsylvania Constitution.” “Important issue but I’m concerned the average age of farmers is now 57 here in Lehigh County. Looking at the cost I wonder if this is going to be an effective means of really preserving the farmland looking at the average age of farmers. This is something we really need to take look at. We do need to consider moving forward how we can adhere to what the state constitution says and what works best for our situation here in Lehigh County.”

Brad Osborne: “I do know that farmland preservation has been promoted as a good program. The Green Futures Fund generated $20 million. It ended. Can we revive it? Farmland absorbs only .33 cents of every tax dollar generated whereas residential requires over a dollar.” “Specific requests need to be in line with the bigger picture. A larger plan is needed.” “Property tax reform could change the entire question.” “We need to evaluate this further.”

Vic Mazzioti: “There are three ways we’ve funded preservation in the past. First, through tax dollars. Another was the sale of assets, and we received grants from the state.” “I’m for continuing the program. But if we do it with general tax dollars, that requires further discussion.” “In the meantime I think we should continue funding the program through the other two sources I mentioned. 1. Any assets that we sell. 2. Grants that we receive that permit us to use those funds for farmland preservation.”

Dean Browning: “The program from early 2000 generated $30 million, and we did not need to borrow. We funded it out of revenue. I was Chairman of the Sterling Raeburn Farmland Preservation Committee. I see the benefit of the program, however I am reluctant to continue it absent any specific vote by the taxpayers saying they want the program re-instituted, and number two, identifying a specific funding source for it.”

RenewLV offers no endorsements of candidates. We will continue to ask candidates questions about farmland preservation and funding strategies and let voters make up their own minds. We welcome candidates contacting our office with a full written statement on their position on funding farmland preservation that we can share with a broad audience.

These excerpts were recorded with the help of Lower Macungie Township Commissioner and RenewLV board member, Ron Beitler.  Thank you, Ron.

To connect with more information, you can check out the Friends for the Preservation of Lower Macungie Township Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/friendsLMT

Or Ron Beitler’s blog for his third-party commentary and discussion:
http://www.ronbeitler.com/2015/05/06/young-republican-county-commissioners-debate-farmland-preservation-topic/

Wherever you live, we hope that you mark your calendar and plan to show up at the polls as an informed citizen for the Primary election on Tuesday, May 19th.
Warm regards,
Joyce Marin
Executive Director, RenewLV

Farmers’ Market Season is Almost Here

carrotsMay is just a few days away, which means farmers market season in the Lehigh Valley is about to kick into high gear.

Farmers’ markets are physical manifestations of many of the ideals RenewLV works toward. (It’s part of the same reason we’re a fan of farm shares and CSAs, which we’ve discussed here before.)

We support farmers and farmland preservation. Farmers’ markets help keep farms in business.

We support food sustainability. Farmers’ markets give people access to healthy, locally grown food.

We support revitalizing our cities and core communities. Nearly all of the Lehigh Valley’s markets bring people into one of the three cities or into boroughs like Emmaus or Nazareth.

Here’s a list of all the markets you can visit this year. No matter where you live in the Lehigh Valley, there’s a market near you.

Bath Farmers Market — Keystone Park (Green and Race streets) in Bath, Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., May 15 to Sept. 25.

Easton Farmers’ Market — Centre Square (Third and Northampton streets) in downtown Easton. Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 2 to Nov. 21, and Wednesday evenings from May through September. Winter market December through April at 325 Northampton St.

Emmaus Farmers’ Market — 235 Main St., Emmaus. Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April through December. Winter market on the second and fourth Sundays of each month, January through March.

The Farmers Market at Campus Square — New and Morton streets in South Bethlehem. Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 7 to October 29.

Macungie Farmers Market — Macungie Memorial Park (50 S. Poplar St.) in Macungie. Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., May 14 to Oct. 29 (excluding Aug. 27)

Nazareth Farmers Market — Centre Square (Center Street) in Nazareth. Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 2 through Oct. 31.

Rodale Organic Farmers Market at the Y — YMCA/YWCA, 425 S. 15th St., Allentown. Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, June 6 through Oct. 31

Rodale Organic Farmers Market on 7th — St. Luke’s Evangelical Church, 417 N. Seventh St., Allentown. Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 13 through Oct. 31.

Saucon Valley Farmers Market — Hellertown Library, 409 Constitution Ave., Hellertown. Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 3 through Nov. 22.

Trexlertown Farmers Market — Valley Preferred Cycling Center, 1151 Mosser Rd., Breinigsville. Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 9 through Thanksgiving.

For more information, be sure to check out this map created by The Morning Call.

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