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Captain James Edward Harris (Cavalry - CSA) founded our family farm soon after the Civil War. He and the sharecroppers who worked this land butchered a cow, several hogs, and a few chickens every Saturday. This was the staple food of the 100 or so people who lived on this farm during the late 1800's.
In the early part of the 20th century, James’ son, Will Carter Harris, ran the place. During this time they butchered a cow, several hogs, and a few chickens every morning before sunup six days a week. The meat was loaded on a mule drawn wagon and hauled three miles up a dirt road to the town of Bluffton. There it was delivered to four general stores, a hotel, and a boarding house. Later a commissary was built on our farm, which grew the business even further.
After World War II, Will Bell Harris ran the farm. It was during his watch that the traditional system of producing and distributing beef, lamb, and poultry eroded. Science introduced a bevy of new chemical tools to the farm, and the slaughtering process became more and more centralized and distant from our pastures. During the latter half of the 20th century our farm only produced calves for the industrial beef production system that furnishes most of the food we eat in this country.
Our farm and family have now come full circle. Today we raise several species of livestock. We process the animals on the farm, and market the beef, lamb, poultry, rabbits, eggs and vegetables directly to consumers who appreciate our artisan products.
The transition started in 1995 when Will Harris III made the conscious decision to return to a production system that is better for the environment, for our animals, and for the people who eat these meats. He reinstituted the multi-species rotational grazing practices of his forefathers, and he built abattoirs on the farm to slaughter our animals. Please click on the following links to learn more about our family’s commitment to the welfare of our animals, environmental sustainability, and locally produced food.
In 2010, the family tradition deepened as Will’s daughter, Jenni Harris, joined the White Oak Pastures team full time. In 2014, another of Will's daughters joined the team, Jodi Harris Benoit. Jenni and Jodi mark the fifth generation of Harrises to raise livestock in on this farm. Today, White Oak Pastures employs over 100 people and produces grassfed beef and lamb, pastured poultry, pastured eggs and Certified Organic vegetables.