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Farm expert to offer ideas for Newton greenspace
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In an effort to continue its exploration of how Newton County can preserve greenspace for agriculture, tourism and recreation as part of a future green economy, The Center is hosting Billy Van Pelt, a farmland preservation expert from Lexington, Ky.

Van Pelt will give a public presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday at The Center, about how his local Fayette County is protecting farmland, not just to preserve greenspace, but to promote farm production and local economic development, said Kay Lee, The Center’s Executive Director.

Lee said the event will be open to anyone who wants to attend, and Van Pelt will be available to answer audience questions. Van Pelt will also speak to the recently formed Green Enterprise Group, which has been discussing greenspace issues for the past couple of months.

"We’ve just been sharing info and we hope to learn what we can. We’re trying to reach out to other counties for successful examples," Lee said.

Some of the ideas that have been tossed around previously are local farmer-restaurant partnerships, a downtown farmers market, biotechnology industries and green-focused education in the school system.

In a press release, Hosanna Fletcher said that the group is particularly interested in how Van Pelt’s program protects the "factory floor" of agriculture, tourism, and the horse industries that make up their local economy and how green land uses and development are supported and funded.

"Please join us as we continue to seek ways to determine and preserve what is essential to the growth and sustainability of our communities while maintaining those elements of life and place we hold dear," Fletcher said in the release.

As an example of the kind of green partnerships that could take place more often in the future, the refreshments will consist of locally grown food prepared by the culinary arts students at Alcovy High School.

To ensure enough refreshments are available, Fletcher asks that interested attendees RSVP by either calling her at (770) 788-0484 or e-mailing her at