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Seven Springs Speaker Spotlight: Doug Van Haitsma, Micro Farmer

9/21/2011 8:35:43 AM

Tags: Seven Springs 2011, Speaker Spotlight, Sustainable Farming, Erica Binns

Get to know Doug Van Haitsma of the Mon Valley Initiative. 

What are you going to speak about at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR? 

There is a huge demand for local food in the Pittsburgh market. Conversely, many old industrial communities throughout the region are plagued with large amounts of vacant and abandoned houses. We are creating a new land use model for some of these communities by revitalizing vacant and abandoned property and turning them into urban farmsteads. We are developing ½ to 2 acre micro farms with renovated farmhouses that will be very affordable.

What are you most looking forward to sharing with FAIR attendees?  

The excellent opportunities available for people who are interested in farming, community building and nontraditional urban development.

Tell us about your background with your particular topic.  

My organization, the Mon Valley Initiative, is a 25 year old nonprofit that has renovated and sold hundreds of houses and provides community development expertise for a coalition of small communities in the Mon Valley region outside of Pittsburgh. Additionally, I am a part of a multigenerational family that has been involved in organic gardening and farming for over 100 years. The ability to combine both of these passions makes this a very exciting project to be a part of.

Why should fairgoers attend your presentation?  

We have a unique product – small farms with fully renovated, energy efficient houses that are affordable for households that are just starting out.

How will you get to the FAIR, and how far do you have to travel?  

I am only an hour and a half away and will likely travel by my trusty 2008 Prius.

What are you most looking forward to at the FAIR?  

Connecting with others who are looking at urban agriculture as a way to deal with blighted properties.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one thing, what would you choose?  

A hat.

Thanks, Doug. We’ll see you at the FAIR! 


Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Seven Springs, Pa. FAIR September 24-25, and upcoming FAIRs in other locations. Tickets are on sale now.

You can also get FAIR updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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