If you have been to Easton in the last six months, you can feel that it’s a happening place. You know that they are up to something good.
Are you scratching your head wondering, “How did they do it?” The restaurants keep getting better. Small food and beverage businesses keep popping up. The excitement keeps growing. We have heard people talking about moving to downtown Easton. What is going on there?
So much about their economic resurgence centers on local food.
We know that they have the longest-running continuously operating outdoor farmers market in the country, but the truth is, there is so much more happening.
Have you been intrigued by the “Easton Experience,”and want to learn more about what they did and how they did it?Join us for “The Easton Experience,” next Tuesday, September 13th at the Easton Public Market and learn what is in Easton’s “special sauce” from some of the people that were key to making it happen, including:
- Mayor Sal Panto
- State Representative Robert Freeman on the History of the Farmers Market
- Jared Mast, Ambassador Program and the role of GDEP
- Megan McBride, Easton Farmers Market
- Kim Kmetz, Easton Main Street
- Tod Auman from Dundore & Heister, “Why I came to Easton”
- Ben Scholl of Scholl’s Orchard, The Farm/City Connection
- Jo Moranville, Garlic Fest, Growing a Food Festival With Care
- Serial entrepreneur, Troy Reynard, with Cosmic Cup
- Allison Czapp, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley
We’ll start with lunch at noon, followed by a panel discussion, then small group table discussions. You’ll become inspired and then be able to connect with panelists and other local resources for lessons learned and practical advice.
Lunch will be provided. There is no cost to attend this event thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream.
However, seating is limited, so please register today at: http://tinyurl.comj6er2xf
We hope to see you there!
Lehigh County Close to Funding Farmland Preservation – Your Help Needed!
Northampton County: The Push is on to Make Farmland Preservation a Budget Item!
Yes, it’s Friday…and that means it’s Farmland Friday. This time of year it’s a great time to eat local produce especially tomatoes, sweet corn and peaches. But if you want to continue to enjoy local produce, open vistas, fresh air and clean water, if you don’t want traffic to get worse with increased development, it’s also important today to find your voice and reach out to your county executives and council members in support of farmland preservation.
This year RenewLV has been vocal in support of farmland preservation. RenewLV has recommended that both counties restore funding for farmland preservation to previous levels ($2 million for Lehigh County and $1 million for Northampton County.)
Now we need you to find your voice and speak out in support of farmland preservation. Let your county elected officials know through emails, letters and phone calls how important it is to you that we restore funding for the county farmland preservation programs to previous levels.
People often tell us a story that begins: “When I was growing up in the Lehigh Valley…” or “When I moved here in…” Now is the time to tell your most moving story to your elected officials. Now. They need to hear from you today.
Here’s the update of what’s happening in Lehigh and Northampton counties on this topic:
In Lehigh County, County Executive Tom Muller and the Lehigh County Commissioners have heard us! They are working through the details on restoring funding to $2 million a year for three years from a combination of $1.5 million from the refinancing of a bond issue and $500,000 per year in gaming revenue. We could not be happier (okay, we asked for ten years of funding, and they found three years — that’s actually really GOOD!)
If you live in Lehigh County, you should be proud and maybe event take a minute to say thank you.
Please reach out today! It’s easy! Here is the physical address for sending letters, the email addresses for sending emails and the phone numbers you can call to register your support. It’s important that you reach out to both the council and the executive because they are two separate branches of government.
We’re told that email is the preferred method of communication.
Physical letters may be mailed to: Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S 7th St, Allentown, PA 18101
Phone: 610-782 3050 Commissioners, 610-782-3001 Executive
Over in Northampton County we have work to do. In council meetings a few months ago County Executive John Brown predicted a surplus in the existing farmland preservation budget adequate to meet demand for easements in 2017. We would like to see a robust farmland preservation effort in Northampton County and have questioned whether surplus funds will actually be enough in 2017 to cover the demand for eligible farms in the pipeline. The budget process is happening now, and Northampton County Council needs to ensure in this budget cycle that there will be adequate funds to cover the cost of those farms eligible for farmland preservation easements in 2017.
Now is the time for anyone who supports farmland preservation to make their voices heard.
If you are a Northampton County resident, it is necessary that your county council hear from you immediately. Tell them that story of yours that begins, “When I was growing up in the Lehigh Valley…” or “When I moved here in…” Tell them what impact you see development having today in your neighborhood and why you think preserving farmland is important. Now. Today. Tell them that funding farmland preservation in the Northampton County 2017 budget is a priority for you.
This affects you! According to the Assessment Report: Local Food Economy, with the farmland that remains in the Lehigh Valley, we can only feed 24% of our population in the region on a traditional American diet!
Here is the physical address for sending letters, the email addresses for sending emails to Northampton County Council and Executive and the phone numbers you can call to register your support for farmland preservation.
Emails to Northampton County Council: email@example.com
Physical letters may be mailed to: Northampton County Council and Executive, Northampton County Courthouse, 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042-7475
Phone calls: 610-829-6596 Council; 610-829-6300 Executive
If you send an email or a letter please copy me (firstname.lastname@example.org.) I will be keeping a file for when we communicate with your elected officials and the higher the stack of communications, the more powerful the argument for farmland will be!
Here are some additional things you can do to celebrate Farmland Friday today:
- Stop at a local farm stand or go to a farmers market and buy local produce. Local economies are built one dollar at a time.
- Take a photo of your favorite farmland vista and send it to us at email@example.com. Let us know where farm field is located and we may use it in future social media.
- Let us know if you want to be on the Farmland Preservation Direct Action Team.
- We are going to be organizing people to attend future Northampton County Council meetings. If you are interested in joining us, please let us know.
- We have plans to create a big banner that says, “Save It – Don’t Pave It,” and we’ll need some extra hands. If you want to help, let us know.
- Make a donation to RenewLV today to support our campaign.
Thank you for your support of farmland preservation in the Lehigh Valley. Through your efforts, you are leaving a legacy of farms as businesses, open vistas and local food.
Did you see that RenewLV’s Farmland Preservation Committee chair and board member, Julie Thomases had an editorial about farmland preservation published in the Morning Call? Check it out here.
Have you been intrigued by the economic resurgence of Easton, PA?
Have you noticed that a lot of what’s happening in the way of economic development centers around local food?
Have you wondered about what you might learn from the Easton Experience that would be relevant in your neighborhood or municipality?
We’ve organized an event where you can hear from the people who helped make it happen, including:
· Mayor Sal Panto
· State Representative Bob Freeman, History of the Farmers Market
· Jared Mast, Ambassador Program and the role of GDEP
· Megan McBride, Easton Farmers Market
· Kim Kemmetz, Easton Main Street
· Tod Auman from Dundore & Heister, “Why I came to Easton”
· Ben Scholl of Scholl’s Orchard, The Farm/City Connection
· Jo Moranville, Garlic Fest, Growing a Food Festival With Care
The panel discussion will be followed by small group table discussions where you can connect with panelists and other local resources for lessons learned and advice.
There is no cost to attend this event, thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream.
However, seating is limited, so please register today at: http://tinyurl.comj6er2xf
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.
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.
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
Hasshan Batts was invited to be a guest blogger on this blog.
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!
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.
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.
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”
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.
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,
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.
“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:
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:
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.
Hope to see you there!
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, […]
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, 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!
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.
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)
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