White Oak Pastures teamed up with the Savory Institute to present a Holistic Management workshop led by Spencer Smith. Spencer is a Savory Institute Accredited Field Professional and owner and operator of the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management.
The workshop lasted four days and included 17 participants from as far as Tennessee and Oklahoma. We split our time up between the classroom, the pasture, and the pavilion. Each participant received coaching from Spencer and created an individual grazing plan for their farm.
We are proud that our farm acts as a gathering place for members of the agricultural community interested in regenerative farming and holistic land management. Our workshop participants came from every stage of holistic management- from conventional farmers looking...
White Oak Pastures is full of passionate and innovative employees. A project started by our recent intern, Karen Cano, has continued on past her graduation from our internship program. Her independent experiment focused on developing a biofertilizer program on the farm. We have continued this project and are excited for long term incorporation of biofertilizer on the farm.
Below: Karen trains members of our poultry crew on creating different biofertilizer concentrations depending on the application they intend to use it for.
Our biofertilizer is an anaerobically fermented microbial solution made from the rumen of ruminants. We have made large batches of concentrated solution. Depending on the intended application, we have corresponding, specific dilution formulas....
Above: This fenceline demonstrates the stark difference between a pasture that was grazed (right) and a pasture left fallow (left). We own the right pasture and recently aquired the left. We look forward to increasing the bioproductivity and forage profile of the new pasture using all natural, animal impact.
Farming daily reminds us that we are part of nature, not separate from it. Particularly with our holistic, natural approach to land stewardship, we respect and work with the natural world. To this end, we must face the trials that come with a natural, pasture-based system, including the presence of natural predators. We cannot be with our animals 24/7 and depend heavily on our Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) to protect our herds during the night.
White Oak Pastures has based our land stewardship on Savory Institute's Savannah paradigm. In this system, the ideal composition is 20% shade, 80% pasture. We are working with our Iberian and heritage hogs to create the farm’s 20% shade, silvopasture ecosystem. Our woody polyculture will include trees such as oak, pecan, fig, pear and olive trees. The tree density will be about 40 trees per acre. This is not a dense canopy and will allow sunshine to filter through so that our livestock can forage a pasture understory. The dehesa forests in Spain on which we hope to model our Iberian pastures have a tree density of 85-120/hectare.
Our Hog Production Manager Aaron Lorenz explains the specific role our pigs play in establishing savannah ecosystems:
" Hogs love fresh pasture and cool...
Herding our hoofstock is not an easy task. Our animals are raised on terrain ranging from brambled woodland to open pasture. We often need to sort and separate the herd into smaller groups based on factors such as age, gender, and genetics. We find our herding dogs indispensable in these complicated tasks, especially when moving our goats and sheep which are notoriously hard to work with. Dogs are an efficient, finessed, low-stress way to move large groups of livestock.
White Oak Pastures had a wonderful Saturday evening with the Albany Museum of Art and Albany Technical College Culinary Arts Department putting on a benefit dinner for the museum. Our very own chef Reid Harrison prepared the first four courses with White Oak Pastures protein- duck, goat and lamb. He also helped direct the enthusiastic culinary students. This evening was a great success for everyone. It was the biggest fundraising event of the year for the Museum, the Culinary Arts students were able to experience the organization and care that go into a large, on-location, fine dining event, and White Oak Pastures was able to share our unique pasture-raised products as well as several of Chef Reid's most popular recipes which we are very proud of. The event featured local chefs Todd...