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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A Truce in Upper Mount Bethel's Shitwars

Marie Stoutland, Maude Davis, Olav Sandes and His Eminence, Ron Angle
Since late last year, Upper Mount Bethel has been in a state of war. The Evil One, Ron Angle, has been fighting with pretty much everyone over his plans to spread shit, referred to as Class A or Class B sludge, on his farmlands. He's was trying to spare local farmers the cost of fertilizer. But all the people who moved next to those farms, before the Recession hit, went ballistic. Many people died.

"So No to Sludge" signs were plastered all over the Township. When those didn't work, it was "Say No to Toxic Waste", with a few stolen pictures of my bowel movements. The sight of those alone caused several people to hurl themselves off Kitattinny Ridge.

Cell phones were flushed, a Supervisor resigned in disgust, the local IRA mobilized, lawsuits were threatened and 500 or more people at a time would cram into meetings, demanding Angle's head.

"Why the hell do you do this?" asked Ron's pretty wife, Sharon.

"It's my hobby," he told me, noting he does not golf or bowl.

Angle agreed to stop the sludge if Supervisors would set up a program to provide conventional fertilizer to farmers who would take the no-sludge pledge. They agreed, but then, they reversed themselves.

This is Upper Mount Bethel.

Angle lost it and hurled himself off Kitatinny Ridge. Luckily, I caught him on the first bounce.

Along the way, many of the people who started out hating Angle began to understand that this had nothing really to do with shit, and everything to do with the farmer.

According to a Greater LV Buy Fresh, Buy Local report, not only is farmland disappearing; but so is the farmer. Between 1930 and 2007, there have been some dramatic changes.
* The Lehigh Valley has lost 80% of its farms dropping from 5,032 farms to just 1,002.
* Farmland has diminished by 53%, from 323,000 acres to 153,000. 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.
* As might be expected, the farmer is disappearing, too. The number of farmers under the age of 35 has dropped by 37% over the last decade. Only 17% of farmers actually own the land they farm because land values are prohibitive.
Angle felt and still believes that sludge is one way to save the farmer. But he sat down with some sludge opponents who consider it unsafe, but agree something most be done to save the farmer.

Maude Davis wants to Heal the Land
One of these persons is Maude Davis, who is nothing like Ron. She is quiet, unassuming consensus builder. But she knows farming inside out. She owned a farm in Arkansas that raised everything from rice to water buffalo.

She suggested that the community pitch in and establish a fund to help the farmer with cover crops, which serve the same purpose as fertilizer, but are much less toxic. She, Angle and fish oil businessman Olav Sandes each kicked $2,000 to form a nonprofit and purchase cover crops. Marie Stoutland also made a contribution for a fund called Heal the Land, which Davis is going to establish as a 501c3 nonprofit.

This year's cover crop will be wheat, which will be planted in August and plowed under next Spring, enriching the soil in the process.

Sludge proponents Olav Sandes and Ron Angle and sludge opponents Maude Davis and Marie Stoutland are willing to come together to help the farmer in what is probably the County's most beautiful Township.

I think Angle's check bounced.

If you'd like to help preserve farming, as opposed to farmland, send a contribution to Heal the Land, P.O. Box 355, Mount Bethel, PA 18343.

Maude would also like to organize a picnic and auction to raise funds.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. - 2 Chronicles 7:14


Anonymous said...

More farmland will disappear when FEDEX builds on Airport Property. FEDEX should build on old Bethlehem Steel Propery along Route 412 off interstate 78!!!

Anonymous said...

You nuts? It's already a traffic nightmare down there. Those who were stupid enough to pay top dollar for homes sitting next to an industrial zoned area get industry. Enjoy the view and your share of city life.

Anonymous said...

Duh- Fedex has a air hub at LVIA. Why would they want to build a distribution center 7 miles away??

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a nice compromise. Just keep Angle away from the money.

Anonymous said...

Just keep Angle away from the Fed Ex building and the airport.

Anonymous said...

A municipality paying for this ----- BS!!!

Matt M. said...

The problem I have with the sewage sludge is that it's got everyone's prescription meds in it and it's going right into the crops and well-water. I'm glad to see open dialogue on the matter.

Uncle Remus said...

Angle loves Hot Karls

Anonymous said...

This entire story is absolutely ridiculous.

Of course the local far is disappearing. It's called big agriculture and its not going away. We obviously don't need the number of local farms we once did. I'm surprised there are still 1000 left! I have no interest in subsidizing local farms. Zero.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Not only are the number of farms decreasing, but so is the acreage. You ignore that inconvenient statistic. But really,trolls don'r donate to good causes anyway.

Anonymous said...

Because big ag can get more out of an acre than Ron Angle? I actually buy local produce. Do you? Most people consume massive quantities of meat fed by ADM crops and processed crap from ADM crops. Quit eating meat and start buying local. That will help them, not this subsidy nonsense for fertilizer. "Trolls" like me actually put their money where their mouth is.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sure you do. The buy local movements you claim to support so much are big advocates of precisely what Angle is doing, so you are already supporting him. I'll let him know. 1 acre per person per year.

Anonymous said...

FEDEX will use site for 'GROUND' not as an air hub. they already have the hub and will not increase plane traffic to ABE.

Move to Hellertown