Seven Springs Speaker Spotlight: Doug Van Haitsma, Micro Farmer

Reader Contribution by 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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