Part III: White Oak Pastures eco-friendly projects (they’re more than just a sustainable cattle ranch)

White Oak Pastures raising sustainable chickens in Georgia

Almost a year ago, I wrote two blog posts about White Oak Pastures and had the intention of writing this third blog post at the same time. A little time has passed, but I’m back to talk about some of Will Harris’ other projects (in addition to cattle ranching) hat didn’t really fit into the other two posts. If you’re new to White Oak Pastures, they are a farm in south Georgia that sustainably raises beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and more. They distribute in the Atlanta area to Publix, Whole Foods, and multiple popular restaurants. Zack and I have been down to the farm twice and you can read about our experiences, the process, and the farm here:

Since writing those two parts, White Oak Pastures has undergone a small revolution. They have since built an abattoir specifically for chickens and turkeys (Will was just embarking on his chicken adventures when we visited). This is a huge leap for a family ranch that’s been focused on beef since the 1800’s.

White Oak Pastures raising sustainable chickens in Georgia

When we visited last year, Will was just embarking on his sustainable chicken adventures with his first shipments of baby chicks. He let us into the coops to take a look at the cute little ones.

Will’s other projects involve his commitment to zero waste (sustainability is discussed in-depth in part II). His $283,000 solar voltaic shed produces 50,000 watts of power (the average household uses roughly 1500 a day). At the time of our last visit, he had plans to double that production.

Underground, he has a 36,000 gallon water purification system with which to run his abattoirs.

And what to do with all of those odd animal parts that we Americans tend to shy away from? Will sells them into ethnic markets, another way he ensures that every part of every one of his creatures is utilized.

Every year, Will plans to plant 500 white oaks around his property, lining fields, roads, and providing shade for his herds. I can imagine how stately the white oaks lining the driveway will look when they’re all grown up.

Will also keeps a big part of history in a bowl in his office – coins that his family used to mint. From 1866 through the 1940’s, the Harris family had their own monetary system on the farm, until the government kindly asked them to shut down production.

In the interest of historic preservation, Will’s daughter (and marketing guru) Jenni is renovating Will’s mother’s house on the property. Situated just off of the road, the house sits in close proximity to the fields and a grove of trees where the cows come to rest.

On a random side note, one of my favorite quotes from Will regarding working with his staff:

You get 27 ranchers and butchers together, you’ll only have four main problems: liquor, money, women, and the law.

When Zack and I got engaged last year, we knew it was the perfect reason to buy a whole (or at least half) cow from Will. We also realized a caterer might not be happy with having to prepare so many different types of beef. So we decided to go with ground beef and chicken from White Oak Pastures. We’re striving to keep our wedding as local and as zero waste as possible and are happy that the Harris family can be a part of that (I don’t plan on talking wedding too much, but there may be more to come on green Atlanta weddings in the future).

White Oak Pastures has a new facebook page, too, so be sure to check it out!

That completes part III of White Oak Pastures! As you’re out and about in Atlanta, ask where people get their meat from. We have a lot of wonderful farms in Georgia and, the more we ask our restaurants and our grocery stores about where they get their food, the more they will pay attention. We’re the ones who hold the money in our wallets and tell them what we want every time we make a purchase. We’ve watched Publix carry more and more White Oak beef as we keep buying it up.

Encourage your friends to make the switch to local, grass-fed beef, too. One of the best ways we’ve found is to simply cook it for people. Have friends over for dinner and throw burgers, sirloin steaks, or tenderloin on the grill and let them taste the difference. Hopefully that will help convince them! Happy eating!

One Response to “Part III: White Oak Pastures eco-friendly projects (they’re more than just a sustainable cattle ranch)”
  1. It takes someone with a deep commitment and deep roots in the land and the community to do what Will Harris has done and continues to do in new and innovative ways. White Oak is changing our understanding and methodology of farming for a sustainable future.

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