|The Northampton County farmer|
According to her study, the Lehigh Valley lost 80% of its farms between 1930, when there were 5,032 farms, and 2007, when only 1,002 farms remained. The acres of land devoted to farmland has dropped 53%, from 323,000 acres in 1930 to 153,000 in 2007.
Since Americans require an average of one acre of farmland per person every year, 153,000 acres will only sustain about 25% the Lehigh Valley's population of 647,232.
In addition to the loss of farmland and farmers, the farmer is disappearing as well. The number of farmers under the age of 35 dropped by 37% between 1997 and 2007. Only 17% of farmers actually own the land they farm because land values are prohibitive.
To reverse this process, Prior's organization encourages (1) educating consumers about locally grown foods, including a farm to school program that introduces children to the farmers who grow their food; (2) marketing assistance to local farmers; (3) improving food access in low income neighborhoods; and (4) a Lehigh Valley Food Hub to increase the amount of local food sold in local restaurants and grocers.