Good news: We bought 250 acres of worthless land

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It takes more than time to restore Georgia’s soil to the way it was before industrial farming practices added chemical fertilizers and pesticides and removed the biodiversity and nutrients. It takes us buying the land in the first place. Well, check that box, to the tune of 250 acres.

Our little experiment in the de-industrialization of agriculture is becoming less little all the time.

So what are we going to do with that 250 acres of degraded soil? Exactly what we’ve done with our other 1,500 acres: repair and fertilize the soil using century-old methods and the Serengeti Grazing Model of an unconfined, natural rotation of livestock. We recently moved a small number of our cattle onto the land to eat hay. They will urinate and defecate to feed the soil, and their hooves will break apart and aerate the land, preparing it for the planting of warm-season perennial grasses.

It will take years of good animal-land management to rebuild this eroded soil, but it’s an investment we know is important to continuing our commitment to regenerative animal agriculture.

Not surprisingly, most of the arable land in south Georgia is under someone else’s control. Some of it is conventional farming, some of it is in hunting reserves or timber farming. But we buy when we can buy. We lease when we can lease. We’re on a mission and we just got 250 acres closer to our goal.

Categories: Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Good news: We bought 250 acres of worthless land

  1. Congrats!
    I love what you’re doing. We need to all try and make our little chunks (or in your case BIG chunk!)
    better for nature.

  2. Debbie

    250 acres closer to your vision. Keep us posted .

  3. Thank you for all that you are doing to make positive changes to farming.
    250 acres more…”I got it one piece at a time”.

  4. Dalmas Tiampati

    Congratulations!
    This is a job well done. The world should emulate your steps.
    From the Maasai indigenous pastoralists.

    • White Oak Pastures

      Hi Dalmas, thank you for your support, we really appreciate it!

  5. Claudya Muller

    Well done, Will! After being in South Africa for the oast week, I understand the comment you made a few years ago when you returned from Africa about never being so far from home and never feeling so much at home. It is amazing here.

  6. Steve

    Thanks. Its inspiring….From not so sunny France!

  7. Yeah – land is cheap in the Southeast, but a lot of it won’t grow much. Cotton had depleted the soil even before industrial farming. The brilliant botanist George Washington Carver saw peanuts as the ideal crop for soil-saving and economic purposes, but Georgia already grows lots of peanuts, so apparently they’re not getting the job done.

    However, the dreaded weed kudzu – originally imported from Japan for erosion control – enriches the soil and has many other uses, including livestock fodder, fabrics, woven baskets and furniture, flowers for honeybees (makes a delicious jam), and an alkalizing herbal remedy, also good as a thickening agent in cooking. Even one vacant lot of kudzu generates its own cool, moist mini-climate zone! It does crowd out native species if left unattended, but can be controlled or eliminated by goat-grazing. Kudzu could be perfect to restore soil quality over wide stretches of barren land where nothing else is growing anyhow.

  8. I applaud your work and look forward to see the transformation in the new 250! I just walked the 150 acres of added pasture land that we’ll be managing this year here in VT. My thoughts ran back and forth between looking at the degradation and thinking about all the work I just signed up for and thinking about the opportunity and excited that I can hopefully turn it around!

  9. You might want to check out Sumagrow from Biosoil. They are based in Mississippi. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I’ve seen the research and their microbial (uber-organic) humate does amazing things for burnt out soil. http://www.sumagrow.com

  10. Michelle Finger

    Hi, I’d like to find out more about your “Serengeti Grazing Model of an unconfined, natural rotation of livestock”.
    We’ve been doing a course in holistic grazing… but this involves lots of moving dense herds of livestock confined either by herders or electric tape ….. what is your approach / how does it differ??
    With thanks,
    Michelle.

    • cowboy Mike

      I am also interested in these grazing models and if you you think the model could be applied to improve Arizona desert grazing lands?

    • White Oak Pastures

      Hi Michelle and Mike,

      The Serengeti Rotational Grazing Model we use involves having large ruminants (for us – cattle) graze together, followed by small ruminants (sheep & goats), then poultry. This allows each specie to graze what the one before left behind. For example, cattle are unable to bite the grass down as low as the sheep/goats, and our chickens come in as the cleanup crew. They peck and scratch to open up the soil and evenly spread the fertilizer left by the previous herds. This prepares the pasture for the new grasses beginning to grow. Cows are brought back to that pasture after a certain amount of time and the cycle starts over.

      We invite you to come and stay in one of our cabins on the farm, to see what we do.

  11. It is so exciting to hear about your work. I look forward to updates and seeing the transformation!

  12. Teresa

    You are doing an incredible job with your farm, in taking back this land and making it productive without heinous health-destroying chemicals. Thank you so much for your inspirational genius and hard work.

  13. Christine Loyle

    Awesome!!

  14. Barbara

    Congrats on your purchase. Keep up the great work you and your employees are doing.

  15. Saint Isidore Homestead and Permaculture

    Thank you for.giving nature a chance. We can hope that it will become apparent to the mainstream that traditional wisdom carries a good degree infallibility.

  16. Pat Pickren

    If any organization deserves to hold and care for land, it would be White Oak Pastures. I am so proud of everything that you all do there and very happy to be able to purchase wonderful food that I believe has been produced with animal welfare and the environment in mind every step of the way. You make America proud, Will and all of White Oak Pastures!!!

  17. Pingback: Holiday turkeys with a higher purpose | White Oak Pastures

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