With Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us, I begin reflecting on the year that has come and gone. There are always things I wish I had accomplished, but also those projects for which I’m proud to have completed. This valuable reflection allows me the opportunity to set goals (or resolutions) for the New Year. I hope while you all are planning your resolutions, you’ll consider making the commitment to only eat pasture-raised meats and poultry. I’ve put together my Top 5 Reasons below; however, there are even more reasons than any of us could possibly count.
White Oak Pastures is a multifaceted regenerative farm raising ten different species for meat, with cattle and poultry as the largest in number. Only 55% of the cow is made up of cuts that are marketable. Because we are committed to adhering to our no-waste tenet, we were motivated to find ways in which to use the parts of the animals that aren’t consumed. Jacqueline DeWitt, our composting manager, explains the aspects of our composting program:
“In our system, we render fat from the cattle to make soaps and salves, sell trim to processors, tan hides, make pet chews, and feed our guardian dogs. Even after all of these measures are taken to use all parts, there are still 4 million pounds of animal remains each year that we can not process or use. So, we do the next best thing: We...
White Oak Pastures is practicing managed grazing and is managing the goals of holistic agriculture. This requires intricate integration of livestock and pasture management. Our role as land stewards is to carefully foster conditions such that our land is regenerated, it’s bioproductivity is increased, and our animals are healthy and profitable. Now we discuss the pasture forage side of managed grazing.
Now let's discuss the livestock side of managed grazing. At White Oak Pastures, we are doing managed grazing in a way that moves animals through the pasture in appropriate stocking densities. "Stocking densities" means the appropriate number of animals per acre. We move them at a certain rate so they are not overgrazing.
A central component of our farm’s mission is land regeneration. We methodically practice holistic management to transform land that was previously row-cropped, in the industrial model, into productive, pastured landscapes. This is a lengthy, arduous process that typically requires over half a decade to once again achieve full soil cover. Leveraging multiple species of livestock is the centerpiece of our strategy. Poultry, in particular, have a unique role in this process, and require careful consideration as we graze ruminants.
Will Harris shares how he evolved from the principles of grazing he was taught at the University of Georgia in the 1970’s, to the holistic management platform he so strongly adheres to and endorses today. Planned grazing is one of the integral components of holistic management that helps generate the benefits of regenerative farming.
White Oak Pastures has become a platform for promoting the literal practice of holistic management. We are a working farm, but our scale has allowed us to also be a leading figurehead in the holistic agriculture world.
From our tour to our workshops, from our internships to our employment opportunities, from our Savory Institute involvement to our speaking opportunities, from our blog to our educational videos, every day we act as a hub for holistic management knowledge dissemination.
Will Harris speaks on The Evolution of the Land to Market Program:
“Allan Savory changed the way I look at land,” said Will Harris, who often calls Savory the “father of holistic range and pasture management.” White Oak Pastures is proud to be one of a very few global Savory Hubs, and only one of two East of the Mississippi River. White Oak Pastures has recently adopted many of Savory’s practices, which stem from using animal grazing to positively impact land.
Will Harris answers the trending question: "What farmers wish you knew about farming."
When I was an industrial farmer, I'd have said that I wish that you knew how hard it is, how stressful it is, how complicated it is, how much work there is, or...it's hot, cold, wet, dry, dirty, nasty, shitty, greasy, etc, etc, etc...
Now that I farm differently, that is not what I would wish for you to know.