By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Nancy Nolan | Produced by Ellen Scruggs | Makeup by Vannette Vititow with Barbara/Jean | Shirt from Mack’s Prairie Wings | Local Food Advocates: Read Admire, Ben Maddox and Holly & Chris Wyman
Special thanks to Director of Facilities Management & Global Properties Tom Spinnato and his team who coordinated the details + logistics of our Heifer International Global Headquarters visit.
Soil, seeds and sunshine cultivate more than just food. This powerful combination lifts communities out of poverty and represents tangible, sustainable solutions. It’s these tools of change – coupled with livestock, training and technology – that Heifer International shares with its global partners. While the organization’s mission – eliminating hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth – remains steadfast, Arkansans like Lorri Hambuchen champion its domestic initiatives. Heifer International recognizes the potential of American agriculture and the farmers that devote their lives to it. In the Capital City, Feast in the Field celebrates Heifer USA and Arkansas farmers. “Agriculture represents endless possibilities; its bounty feeds the body and nourishes the soul,” notes Lorri.
Lorri remembers summertimes spent with her grandparents in North Arkansas – canning fruits and vegetables, snapping peas and cleaning corn. “Digging in the dirt, growing our own produce and harvesting it brings everything full circle,” Lorri explains. “It’s a family tradition for us, but for so many rural communities it’s also a truly reliable food source.”
Heifer USA supports the revitalization of local food systems – creating opportunities for farmers in rural America and urban food markets to collaborate. The Community Supported Agriculture program connects local farmers with consumers providing a weekly share of seasonal, organic produce throughout the spring and fall.
Under Lorri’s leadership, Feast in the Field will showcase produce from the CSA program as well as the Heifer Community Garden and Urban Farm. The evening unites the organization’s domestic initiatives with the community and reiterates a universal value: healthy food should be accessible to everyone and farmers are the answer. Her quirky sensibility and practical approach to civic leadership guarantee an insightful evening infused with wholesome deliciousness. “This is an authentic farm-to-table movement, creating real change,” Lorri proclaims. And this Arkansas native is the perfect Heifer USA ambassador. “I have always had a heart for service. I lived in Arkansas most of my life and believe we must support our own farmers to make a meaningful difference.”
Her love of people, places and adventure landed her with a journalism degree from the University of Central Arkansas. Today, Lorri is touted around town as a wine aficionado – she’s a wine educator at the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute and writes a weekly column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She cultivated her knowledge while living with her family in London. At the time, her husband Scott encouraged her to “find something you can’t do anywhere else in the world.” She continues, “I walked from our flat near High Street to The Leiths School of Food and Wine. Sounds like fun – doesn’t it?” She continued at Sotheby’s and The Wine and Spirit Education Trust of London before bringing her knowledge back to Arkansas. She admits she could never pick just one favorite, and she embraces the opportunity to share the nuances of wine with friends and family. “Food is our culture – it keeps us grounded and connected to our roots.”
At its global headquarters in downtown Little Rock, Heifer International’s philosophy of ending poverty and caring for the Earth blends seamlessly into the landscape and the culture of the organization. A long-abandoned railroad yard, recognized with a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) platinum certification, the campus features the Heifer Community Garden and Urban Farm – reclaimed acreage that Director of Facilities Management & Global Properties Tom Spinnato designed as a community garden with beehives, a hoop house and a butterfly garden.
“It’s an educational resource as well as a way to get involved with the local community,” Tom explains. Plots are available for individuals as well as corporate partners. In addition, a section is designated for local organizations – including Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Our House and CareLink. “These partnerships help dispel misconceptions that we sometimes experience,” notes Tom. “Heifer International is not just a global entity – we want to create change in our own backyard.”
Since 1944, Heifer has helped more than 25 million families worldwide – providing innovative and sustainable solutions for 30 countries that create transformative change and self-reliant communities. Heifer International Founder Dan West believed ordinary people could do extraordinary things. His “teach a man to fish” philosophy still resonates as devoted patrons, like Lorri, continue his work and legacy. “I’m always looking for the perfect opportunity to be with people, educate and hopefully inspire,” Lorri explains. “This is the place to do that.”