January 16, 2008 | By: Carol Lea Spence

For family farms to survive, it takes the support of the community. Conversely, a strong network of local farms is vital to the success of sustainable communities. That is the premise behind Partners for Family Farms, whose upcoming annual meeting will feature Sergio Palleroni as keynote speaker.

Palleroni, visiting associate professor of architecture and sustainable development at the University of Texas at Austin, is a world-renowned expert in helping communities become more sustainable. The Argentina native is known for his BASIC (Building Sustainable Communities) Initiative. Within BASIC, students and professionals from a variety of disciplines work with members of marginalized communities from a variety of cultures to solve local problems using indigenous resources and outside-the-envelope problem solving.

Bonnie Tanner, Partners for Family Farms board member and retired University of Kentucky College of Agriculture administrator, said that Palleroni’s work around the globe and Partners for Family Farms’ work in Kentucky both focus on improving people’s lives and preserving their culture.

“Farmers need that supportive network that comes from the community,” she said. “And our local communities need to know our farmers provide good wholesome food that they can purchase. Local is so important. Knowing where your food comes from is important. Most people don’t realize their food travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches them.”

Partners for Family Farms is a nonprofit organization that focuses on sustaining farm life and farmland through educating people about the role of agriculture in local economies and developing programs and opportunities that support farmers. 

“One of the things that they’ve been very big in is advocating for farmers’ markets and helping to get rules and regulations so that the farmers can sell at the farmers markets,” Tanner said. “They were big promoters and partners in the mobile processing units, which provided small meat producers with the ability to sell their products locally. They were also the first contractor for the restaurant reward program. They helped get that established and ran that until last year.”

The latter program offered incentives to restaurants for using locally grown products.

This year’s meeting also honors Sue Weant, who is retiring as the organization’s executive director. 

“Sue sustained the organization for many years and was a true advocate for local farmers and eating local food,” said Alice Baesler, the group’s president.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 at Spindletop Hall on Ironworks Pike in Lexington. Members and non-members alike are invited. The cost of the evening is $30 per person. This includes a Kentucky Proud dinner prepared by Spindletop Executive Chef Edward Valente. The meal will feature braised Green River Cattle Company short ribs of beef with a tomato demi glace, Sheltowee Farm shiitake mushroom bread pudding, baby carrots, a salad of wild field greens and, for dessert, Kentucky chocolate pecan pie. 

The deadline for reservations is Jan. 23. Send checks to Partners for Family Farms, c/o Bonnie Tanner, 328 North College Street, Harrodsburg, KY 40330 or call her at 859-734-9337.


Bonnie Tanner, 859-734-9337