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Today our featured Terra Madre guest is Robert R. Perry, of the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture (as well as the Chefs Collaborative Board), and his innovative and practical project, the Kentucky Hamburger Alliance, which just launched in October. Thanks to Bob for providing us with a picture of him and his wife, hard at work on the farm (ha!). Bob was a delegate to Slow Food’s Terra Madre conference in Torino in both 2006 and 2006. “Terra Madre,” he says, “is like a giant pep rally for local foods. Having attended in both 06 & 08 I have built not only an incredible professional network in sustainable agriculture of advocates, farmers, chefs, educators and youth, but a network of friends that will last a lifetime.”

This year, Bob was an essential contributor to the Meat Working Group that met during the conference. Recognizing that meat producers are easily able to sell the choice cuts but have a harder time moving the rest of the animal, Perry’s program connects farmers and their “less desirable” cuts with buyers looking for meat for hamburgers. It’s about helping these small farmers band together, pooling their “trim,” creating enough product to supply a big client. The first big client is University of Kentucky’s Dining Services, which means that UKY students are eating burgers made from fresh, local meat. As Bob says, “the Kentucky Hamburger Alliance is a way to help the farmers develop their own businesses through cooperation and get great local food on campus for the students. UK’s Food Service is very progressive about sourcing local food and their efforts deserve to be better known. They are reluctant to blow their own horn but I’m willing to blow it for them.” For more information about University of Kentucky’s programs such as their “Growing Kentucky” program, click here.