Will Harris

 

Will Harris is a fourth generation cattleman, who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, Will left home to attend the University of Georgia's School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. Will graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.

 

These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990's Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for their cattle, and, as Will says, "nature abhors a monoculture." In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.

 

Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. Will is the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of Georgia Organics. He is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association, and was selected 2011 Business Person of the year for Georgia by the Small Business Administration.

 

Will lives in his family home on the property with his wife Yvonne. He is the proud father of three daughters, Jessi, Jenni, and Jodi. His favorite place in the world to be is out in pastures, where he likes to have a big coffee at sunrise and a 750ml glass of wine at sunset.

 


 

Brian Sapp


Brian knows good beef. Growing up on a caladium farm in Lake Placid, Florida, Brian threw himself into the study of agriculture and food production at a young age, eventually earning a B.S. in Food and Resource Economics, as well as a Masters in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida. During his studies, he also got the opportunity to work in several different roles at the university's meat processing center.

 

In 2008 Brian brought his wealth of knowledge to White Oak Pastures' brand new certified humane beef processing plant where he is in charge of day-to-day operations. Recently Brian's domain widened when he was put in charge of constructing the new White Oak Pastures poultry processing plant.

 


 

Jenni Harris

 

Jenni Harris, Will's middle daughter, is the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend cattle at White Oak Pastures. After living on the farm her entire life, Jenni went to Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Business Marketing, graduating in 2009. She remained intimately involved in the family business throughout her studies.

 

After graduating, Jenni set out to learn the industry. She moved to Atlanta where she interned at Buckhead Beef, a SYSCO company. She put in time in every department, from shipping and receiving to the cut shop, and was later hired to work as a sales associate.

 

In June of 2010 Jenni returned home to Early County to work for White Oak Pastures full time. As the marketing manager, Jenni travels the East Coast promoting her family’s grassfed beef and lamb and pastured poultry to distributors, retailers, and restaurateurs.

 


 

Jean Turn

 

Jean Turn has been the Comptroller of White Oak Pastures since 2012, overseeing the administrative and financial aspects of the company. This includes accounting, human resources, risk management, and special projects. Jean holds a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in Information Studies. While working for the agribusiness Gold Kist, she served in several capacities: cost accountant, operations manager, distribution manager, and procurement manager for agricultural chemicals. After a 12-year stint as a public librarian which ended in serving as Director of one of Georgia's regional public library systems, Jean returned to her accounting roots when she accepted a position with White Oak Pastures.

 


 

Justin Wiley

 

Justin "Buck" Wiley began working at White Oak Pastures in July of 2009. He was hired as a butcher and worked hard to prove himself until he was promoted to Beef Plant Manager. Buck takes pride in his work and in making our customers happy. He manages 38 employees and 35 head of cattle each day in the Red Meat Abattoir. He arrives at the plant early in the morning and is typically one of the last people to leave. He carries a lot of responsibility, but also has the pleasure of working with some of his best friends every day. He's a great guy, with a huge heart and a constant smile on his face. We couldn't be happier to have him as part of our work family!

 


 

Stokes Rodgers

 

Stokes Rodgers is White Oak Pastures Staff Accountant. Stokes was born and raised in Fitzgerald, Georgia, and graduated in 2012 from Valdosta State University with an Accounting degree. Stokes works closely with risk and loss control, as well as accounting.

 


 

John Benoit

 

John, White Oak Pastures' Director of Livestock, is from Fitzgerald, Georgia. John attended Valdosta State University and has been at White Oak Pastures since December 2012.

 


 

Amber Harris

 

Amber Harris, born in Adarisville, Georgia moved to White Oak Pastures in June of 2013. Before joining our team, she lived in Atlanta, working with the United States Federal Probation. After five years of living in the city, Amber decided to move south. Amber manages the egg candling and packaging, tallow soap making, hide tanning and leather making at White Oak Pastures. Amber is passionate about learning how to brain and protein tan grassfed beef, lamb and rabbit hides processed at the White Oak Pastures abattoir. She's looking forward to filling your home with furniture and decorations made from our hides, tallow candles, soap and eggs from our farm!

 


 

Jodi Harris Benoit

 

Jodi Harris Benoit, Will's youngest daughter, is the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend livestock at White Oak Pastures. Jodi has always played an active role in helping her dad and the cowboys work cattle each season. Jodi graduated from Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Speech Communication in 2012. After graduating, Jodi followed her dad's rule, working away from the farm for at least one year. She was a Support Coordinator for Professional Case Management Services of America. In this position, she was an advocate for adults with developmental disabilities. In January of 2014, Jodi began working full time at White Oak Pastures. As the Farm Events Manager, she is responsible for giving guided tours on the farm, in-house marketing, and planning various events.

 

 


 

Ryan Carnley

 

Ryan, our Permaculture manager, is a native of Georgia, born and raised just west of Atlanta. He grew up gardening with his grandfather and this cultivated in him a deep love of growing vegetables and an appreciation for doing things the way nature intended. He studied History and Political Science at Georgia State University, and apprenticed at Serenbe Farms before coming to join the White Oak Pastures organic farm.

 


 

Aaron Lorenz

Aaron is our Hog Production Manager.  Aaron is from Saint Petersburg, Florida. He studied at University of South Florida. Aaron’s connection to agriculture started through his interest in medicine and the connection between health and food systems. As he learned more, he was drawn into the farming lifestyle. He became involved in Community Supported Agriculture and then livestock farming.  Aaron manages the rapidly growing hog operation at White Oak Pastures. We have two separate breeding programs: our heritage breed crosses and our Iberian hogs. Aaron’s calm demeanour helps him work with our hogs in a low-stress manner. You can often find the hogs chasing his truck in our pasture because they are so excited for food. Aaron’s constant farm companion is his pitbull Rory who lives the farm dog high-life and loves blowing bubbles in mud puddles.

 


 

 

Bubba Jackson
 

Bubba started working at White Oak Pastures October 24th, 2013 boxing product in the cutting room. This job is tough physically and mentally. When he started he was really overwhelmed but kept his head up and kept a smile on his face. He worked as hard as he could trying to make sure all of the orders were correct and did everything he could from the cutting room to better the business. About a year and a half later Bubba was promoted to a head position over the cutting room and loved it. He had that position for about 6 months before he got his next promotion!  These days Bubba is manager on the dock where he makes sure all the White Oak Pastures product reaches the correct destination. Bubba loves to work and will do whatever he can to make the company succeed. Sometimes he feels like he lives here but he wouldn't want it any other way. Bubba loves his job and loves the people he works with.

 

 


 

Sabrina Carnley

 

Sabrina, our Order Manager, moved down to Bluffton from Atlanta in October of 2014 when she married Ryan Carnley, the organic vegetable farm manager. It wasn't until November of 2015 that she started working on the farm helping with the online store and helping with the whole sale program. Sabrina has learned so much about what animal welfare truly means and what eating organic means and why it's important. She looks forward to continuing to grow and learn with White Oak Pastures.

 


 

Felicia Brown

 

Felicia is from Blakely GA, born and raised, but now lives in Arlington GA. Lisa began working at White Oak Pastures in 2012 in the processing room of the poultry plant. Felicia became the poultry plant manager in 2016.

 


 

   

 


 

   

 Jeff Lackey

 
Jeff Lackey is our Poultry Production Manager. Jeff has been heavily involved in regenerative and multi-species agriculture, including mushroom farming, non-native invasive plant management, and perennial food production. Jeff comes by way of Pennsylvania but has also worked in South Africa, Kenya and Honduras. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and a MS in Biomedical Engineering.  We appreciate the expertise he brings to the farm as we continue to strive to make this a better place for our animals, our people, and our community.
 

 

 

 


 Laura Mortelliti


Laura is from Upstate New York. She received her B.S, from Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences where she double majored in Animal Science and Natural Resources. Laura worked for several years as a farm intern and wildlife technician before deciding to pursue her lifelong passion of photography. She studied in the graduate program of Multimedia, Photography and Design at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications. Laura is excited for the chance to combine her love of agriculture and photography together to produce media for White Oak Pastures.

 


 

Dan Hicks

Dan is White Oak Pastures’ Inventory Manager. Dan is a native of Big Cane, LA and comes from a multi-generational farming background. He grew up on a conventional row-crop farm in south Louisiana and earned his B.S. in Agriculture Business and Economics from Auburn University, while also working on a local cattle farm. He then spent the next 20+ years “seeing the world” with the U.S. Marine Corps. Dan is excited to return to his agricultural roots, but with a more sustainable and regenerative outlook and is nearing completion of a M.S. in Sustainable Food Systems through Green Mountain College. Dan spends the weekdays managing inventory and his weekends with his wife and sons in Auburn, AL.

 


 

Bilal Sarwari

Bilal is our Organic Garden Manager and is a native of Atlanta. He studied at Oxford College ('07) and Emory University ('09) where he majored in Human Biology and Anthropology, with a minor in Environmental Studies. His passion lies where health and sustainability meet, which guides him during everyday and long-term decision making for our Organic Garden program. As the son of Afghan immigrants, Bilal gained an appreciation for the land and what it can mean to a people. Some of his earliest memories are planting tomatoes with his father at the age of four. Volunteering on the board of Slow Food Atlanta for five years, running a therapeutic gardening program at a psychiatric health center, working in Philly as an organic gardener, and serving with some of the best chefs in Atlanta has shaped the way Bilal works and implements his ideas. Jenni Harris, Amber Harris, and Bilal Sarwari have been close friends for years.

 


 

Jaime Brooks

Jaime is our Small ruminants manager. She was born and raised on her family’s farm in Batesville, GA. There she helped raise 19 houses worth of chickens and Black Angus cattle that were spread out on 4 different farms. Farm life followed her on into high school where she was actively involved in FFA where she showed cattle and horses while also being involved in the GA Cattlemen Association. From there she went to study animal science and pre vet at ABAC.

After college, she moved to Ashford, AL where she worked as a dog trainer for a few years in Dothan, AL. She came to White Oak Pastures in 2015 as a general store associate giving walking tours and guided horseback tours.

In 2017 she was promoted to assistant manager of small ruminants and then to manager. After working in many other departments as well, she says that she has finally found her happy place as a ‘FarmHer’. Her love for animals carries over to her spending her spare time with her horses King & Zoey, two dogs Astrid & Sonya, and her many baby goats.

 


 

Alena Ivakhnenko

Alena is our Lead Craftswoman. She was born in Ukraine and moved to America when she was 6 years old. Some of her earliest memories are of helping her grandmother tend to their vegetable garden. That involvement with family as well as the connection to community is part of the reason she has made her way to White Oak Pastures. After living in Massachusetts for most of her childhood, her family moved out west to Salt Lake City, UT. She graduated from Westminster College in 2010 with a B.S. in Sociology and an Art Minor.

Following college, she joined Utah Conservation Corps and helped public land agencies build trails and became a backcountry saw crew leader. After spending a season working for a Forest Service Trails crew in Alaska, she turned her sights to her farming dreams and made her way to Atlanta, GA. She began her time at White Oak Pastures as an Organic Garden Intern and as the growing season winded down, found a love for creating handmade pieces for our Leather department. Following a year spent in Brevard, NC apprenticing at Pitch Pine Farm, she has made her way back to South Georgia and can now be found leading our Leather Department.

 


 

Kiersten Cartwright

Kiersten Cartwright grew up in rural Indiantown, Fl., where her family owned approximately 500 head of brangus cattle, which Kiersten helped work. Through 4H, Kiersten showed swine, steers and heifers for 11 years at the local fair to raise money for college. In High school, Kiersten focused on taking as many agriculture classes as possible. Having a passion for animals, Kiersten knew she wanted to be involved in a career focused on Animal Agriculture.

In 2011, Kiersten was accepted into Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC). Kiesten visited White Oak Pastures on a class field trip. After graduating in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science in Diversified Agriculture, Kiersten applied for a position at White Oak and was hired in August 2016.

Kiersten is HACCP certified, as well as, an Animal Welfare and a Poultry Welfare Officer. Kiersten thoroughly enjoys working at White Oak Pastures and couldn’t be more thankful to work with such wonderful people.

 


 

Laura McDonald

Laura grew up in Marietta, GA and attended Georgia State University where she studied Marketing and Business Management. She was a very successful saleswoman in the high-end fashion industry for years before she finally decided to hang up her high heels and change her career path.

Laura's versatility and out-going nature led her to jobs such as restaurant management and even being an equine beach trail guide on Sea Island. She eventually moved to Southwest GA and started working at White Oak Pastures in April of 2014.

She was extremely drawn to White Oak Pastures due to her love of good, clean food and desire to connect with its source. Laura is our Human Resources Manager and Internship Coordinator. She currently lives in Shellman, GA with her daughter Sydney.

 


 

Johnny Jacobs

Johnny Jacobs, known as “Jake” to most, grew up near Gainesville, FL before embarking on his military career. After Jake retired from the military, he and his wife, along with their four sons, moved through the states of South Dakota, Florida, and Minnesota before settling in Blakely, GA. Jake, having an abundance of butchering experience, joined the White Oak Pastures team in May, 2015. Jake got a running start in the Red Meat Abattoir Cutting Room, then moved to the Kill Floor. He advanced into the position of Further Processing Manager, whose responsibilities include breaking down pork carcasses and making our Artisan Sausages.

 


 

Nichole Griffin

Nichole joined White Oak Pastures in January 2018 as an Accountant, focusing on special projects. She holds a BBA in Accounting and a MAcc with a concentration in Forensic Accounting. Prior to joining our team, she worked as a Forensic Accountant for a public accounting firm and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Philadelphia, PA. After 3 ½ years of living the big city life, Nichole decided to return to her roots.

Nichole is a Georgia native and spent much of her childhood on her family’s farm. Some of her earliest memories are riding in the combine with her father harvesting corn and feeding corn on the cob to the cattle. Nichole’s love for food and passion for cooking has raised her awareness on the importance of knowing your farmer, specifically how animals are raised and food is grown. She is thrilled to be joining White Oak Pastures because of its focus on regenerative agriculture.

 


 

Ban Stewart

Ban “Banjo” Stewart is our Quality Control Manager. He has spent many years in the hot and fast paced environment of professional kitchens utilizing locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and after college, he graduated from Capital Culinary Institute at Keiser University. His passion for food led him to work in 2 of Tallahassee’s finest culinary establishments, Cypress Restaurant and Governors Club. Banjo and his wife, Alli, moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 2009 when he accepted a position at a progressive farm to table restaurant where he utilized the freshest, hand-picked ingredients from the on-site farm. This was a great learning experience for Banjo but Alli’s small hometown of Union Springs, Alabama was calling and Banjo became the Executive Chef/Manager of the Unions Springs Country Club. To further challenge himself, Banjo accepted the role of Executive Chef of Kowaliga Restaurant on Lake Martin in Eclectic, Alabama in 2014.

After meeting Will Harris years ago at the Tupelo Bakery Anniversary in Monticello, Florida and tasting grass fed beef for the first time, Banjo and Alli began studying the history and transition of White Oak Pastures. Stopping by for visits and a bite to eat on frequent trips between Florida and Alabama, they have watched the farm grow for nearly 10 years. When opportunities were presented to both of them, they knew they could not pass up a chance to join the White Oak Pastures Family. The Stewarts packed up and moved to Bluffton at the beginning of 2018 to embrace the farm life. Banjo brings his culinary background and passion for regenerative sustainability to aid in an improved quality product for all of our customers.

 


 

Lashona Butler

Lashona Butler, our Pavilion and Food Truck Manager, came to White Oak Pastures in 2012 with years of experience in the food industry. However, she has continued to learn, progress, and develop strategies that enrich our dining experiences, for both employees and guests. From working in our Poultry Department and making tallow and pet chews in our Pet Chew Department, Lashona has come full circle, back to her passion of cooking. Lashona has the gift of knowing how to effectively manage her staff and all the responsibilities that come with being the manager of our Dining Pavilion and Food Truck. As busy as Lashona is at work, she might be just as busy, if not more, at home. With three athletic sons, fifteen-year-old TreShawn and nine-year-old twins, Rae’Shawn and Dre’Shawn, LaShonna spends her leisure time at her sons’ football, basketball, and baseball games. Last but not least, LaShona is engaged to William Clyde, who we must say, has found himself an amazing woman!

 


 

Chad Hunter

Chad Hunter grew up on his family's multigenerational farm on the south end of Early County, GA. Chad studied Biology at the University of Georgia. While at UGA, Chad was a Howard Hughes Scholar and worked in the Crop and Soil Sciences lab genetically engineering soybeans and doing extensive tissue culture work. Chad then managed a cafe at an artisan bakery were he fell in love with all things local and sustainable. He started working at White Oak Pastures 2014. Chad started in our Dining Pavilion as the Dessert Chef and managed the front of the house for weekend dinner service, before transferring to our General Store full time. In 2017, Chad was promoted to General Store Manager. At the store, Chad handles most of the procurement and sourcing of local, artisan and hand-crafted goods from jellies and jam to butter and beer. Hospitality and agritourism are also a big part of Chad’s responsibilities on the farm. Giving tours of the farm and making sure guests enjoy and remember their visits brings a smile to his face.