Monthly Archives: January 2017

Our Blog has Moved

In the spirit of celebrating the new year, we’ve moved our blog! You’ll still be able to read all of our articles here, but all new posts will be available on http://blog.whiteoakpastures.com/blog/

Be sure to follow us there for all our new news, events and other interesting things happening around our farm.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WOP on the NYT Magazine Cover

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This beautiful New York Times cover was created by photographer Dan Winters and the above image by Wyatt Williams

 

If you know about White Oak Pastures, then you have probably heard about our “Bald Eagle Situation”. Whether you’re familiar with the story or not, you should read the excellent piece by our friend Wyatt Williams whose article was featured on the cover of the New York Times: “When The National Bird Is A Burden“. He speaks with insight on the unnatural predicament of the 70+ bald eagles living on the farm due to our pastured poultry, and also draws attention to the ongoing conversation (and frustrations) with the Farm Service Agency on our eligibility for the USDA Livestock Indemnity Program, which helps farmers who suffer loss due to a protected species.

 

 

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Categories: Regenerative Land Management | Leave a comment

Three Recipes for Our Pasture-Raised Pork Chops

Our rich, flavorful pork chops are the final product of our hog program which restores our land and supports our rural community. Our chef Reid Harrison has prepared three quick, healthy and delicious recipes using our pasture-raised, non-GMO fed, Global Animal Partnership 5+, Certified Humane pork chops. 

Pan Seared Pork Chop with White Wine Rosemary Garlic Pan Sauce

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IngredientsWhite Oak Pastures Pork Chops, Salt & Pepper to Taste, 1 Lemon, 2 Cloves Garlic, 2 Sprigs fresh Rosemary, 2 Tablespoons White Wine, 1 Tablespoon Butter, 2 teaspoons Olive Oil, 2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

Directions – Season Chops with salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in pan till almost smoking. Add butter till sizzling and just starting to brown. Sear Pork Chops over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip to other side and reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and rosemary to pan. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the pork chops, garlic and rosemary. Occasionally spoon some pan sauce over the chops so that it cooks into the meat. Once the chops have reached an internal temp of 150F, remove them to a plate while you make the pan sauce. For the pan sauce, simply deglaze the pan with white wine, being sure to scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan (make sure you don’t burn anything during the cooking process as this will make the pan sauce bitter). Reduce the wine by half, then pour in the cream stirring to marry the flavors, then melt in the butter – being sure to stir continuously so that the sauce does not break. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Pour over the pork chops and enjoy!

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Pan Seared Boneless Pork Chop with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce 

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Ingredients – White Oak Pastures Pork Chops, Grill Salt, 1/2 Onion Julienne, 1 Cup Sliced Mushrooms, 2 Sprigs Rosemary, 2 Cloves Garlic Minced, 2 Tablespoons Red Wine, 2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream, 1 Tablespoon Butter, Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions – Season Chops with grill-salt. Heat olive oil in pan till almost smoking. Add butter till sizzling and just starting to brown. Sear Pork Chops over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip to other side and reduce heat to medium. Add onions, mushrooms and rosemary to pan. Sautee with pork chops for 2-3 minutes. Remove Pork chops from pan and place on a plate once they reach an internal temp of 150F. Add the garlic to the onion & mushroom mixture. Cook until onions and mushrooms are caramelized and garlic is fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the red wine making sure to scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan (make sure you don’t burn anything during the cooking process as this will make the pan sauce bitter). Reduce the wine by half, then pour in the cream stirring to marry the flavors, then melt in the butter – being sure to stir continuously so that the sauce does not break. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Pour over the pork chops and enjoy!

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Pork Chops with Bacon and Kale

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This is a delicious and healthy quick dinner, plus, the cast-iron makes for minimal mess as this is a one pot kind of dish. Not only does it taste good, but there are a lot of health benefits to adding hearty dark greens like Kale as they are a nutritional powerhouse packed with calcium, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants (you can also substitute Swiss chard, mustard greens or even baby collards).

Ingredients – 2 White Oak Pastures Pastured Pork Rib Chops, 2 TBL Chopped Fresh Oregano, 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice, Salt & Pepper to taste, 1 TBL Olive Oil, 2 Bacon Slices- thick cut, sliced, 2 Garlic Cloves – minced, 1 Bunch of White Oak Pastures Organic Kale – stemmed and rough chopped, 5 tsp Sherry Wine vinegar, 1/2 Cup White Oak Pastures Poultry Bone Broth, 2 TBL Dijon Mustard 

Directions – Season Pork Chops with Oregano, Allspice, Salt & Pepper with a little olive oil. Allow to sit and marinate for 20-30 minutes. Sear over medium-high heat in a cast-iron pan, until golden brown. Once browned on both sides, remove chops to a plate and allow to rest.

Add Bacon to pan and sautee until crisp. Add Greens and begin to wilt. Sautee in garlic until fragrant. Deglaze with Sherry vinegar, and add Bone Broth. Simmer on low and mix in Dijon. Return Pork Chops to the pan and finish cooking to desired doneness or internal temperature reaches 145F. Serve and enjoy!

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Categories: Kitchen, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Meet Our Hog Production Manager Aaron Lorenz

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Aaron has always been interested in the topic of health and considered going to medical school before he found farming as his true passion. Aaron believes that we should look at medicine and food production holistically.  His time in the restaurant business and interest in medicine helped him come to his perspective that helping people stay healthy goes hand in hand with producing healthy food, healthy animals and healthy environmental management. As Aaron sees it, “everything is connected”. Aaron found reading Wendell Berry to be particularly inspiring.

As our Hog Production Manager, Aaron manages our 200 Iberian hogs and our 500 American heritage breed hogs. Our hogs are all Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership Step 5+ Certified, holistically managed, non-GMO fed and pastured raised. Our hogs are mobile land-renovation units- they help us clear and rehabilitate land in many versatile ways.

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For Aaron, one of the most challenging aspects of his job is “staying ahead of where we’re at as far as management. Balancing current needs of the pigs with future needs of the land. Figuring out systems that are going to produce really healthy pigs and land- our dynamic systems are always changing. There is a lot of planning”. While this is challenging, Aaron also sees it as “fun for me to be constantly designing new systems, systems from which other people can learn to have a truly regenerative enterprise”.

Aaron sees great potential in our rapidly expanding hog program. “It’s exciting for me to work with our labor force and to see how much they care”. Aaron considers himself “blessed to work with Will and the people he has here to produce food in a sustainable way.  It’s exciting to see the potential for growth at White Oak Pastures as the model for how to do that in the future”.

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Aaron’s favorite daily chore is checking for new piglets. “I love when there’s a litter of piglets, watching them grow up, seeing proud mammas taking care of little babies. We do a lot of work to make sure they have everything they need”. 

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Aaron says his favorite pork recipe is pork chops and collard greens. Aaron says knowing the story behind his food makes it even better: “When you see the old cut over timber which used to be almost desert and the pigs cleared up the weeds and scrub plants and you get out there and see the native grasses and trees and you can start to see what the land will look like in 10 years, then that’s the best pork chops I ever had”. Aaron has “talked to a lot of customers and hearing that their favorite thing is the pork is really rewarding”.  

“There really is nothing happier than a pig in the mud. When it gets really hot here in the summer and you see a pig in the mud, you can’t help but think the world is a good place”.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Our Year In Review

“We pray for plenty of good hard work to do, and the strength to do it.” 

This is the saying written in our dining pavilion over the serving window. It is our farm’s unofficial motto, a prayer Will remembers from his youth.

We had many milestones in 2016. We are proud of our accomplishments and grateful for our blessings. Below, our managers share a list of notable milestones.

1.) Welcome Baby Jack!

Jack Carter Harris was born December 7, 2016 to Jenni and Amber Harris, starting the 6th Harris generation born on the farm. This healthy baby boy has already brought so much joy to the farm family. We look forward to his generation inheriting White Oak Pastures as a farm who’s soil and community has been enriched and regenerated due to our farming practices.

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2.) Grand Opening of the White Oak Pastures General Store 

It truly took our whole community to refurbish and reopen Bluffton’s 19th century general store. We believe that regenerative agriculture has the power to restore rural communities. We see our store as a step towards revitalizing downtown Bluffton.

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3.) 150th Birthday

This year marked our farm’s 150th Birthday, or, our Sesquicentennial. This little known word is hard to pronounce so we made a quick video of our brave employees giving it a try. We had an incredible turn out for our 150th Birthday Celebration with the Bo Henry Band on October 15, 2016.

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4.) Internship/ Apprenticeship Program Initiated 

Our official Internship/ Apprenticeship Program completed its first successful year. White Oak Pastures offers our interns a unique farm experience in scale and vertical integration while simultaneously providing an idea-incubating space for young people interested in regenerative agriculture.

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5.) Second Annual 5K Ruff Run

Regenerative agriculture focuses on the health of the soil, the health of the animals, and the health of the people who perpetuate this system. Many of our customers, partners and employees support us because they prioritize health. What better way to honor our regenerative community than through a fun event focused on healthy bodies? Our Second Annual 5K Ruff Run was a great success this spring.

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6.) Land Purchases

This year we purchased increments of 250 acres, 120 acres and 60 acres. We are excited to incorporate this land into our organic, holistic system. We look forward to using animal impact and holistic management to revive this land which was previously farmed industrially.

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7.) Internet Fulfillment Center Development 

At the start of the year, the Internet Fulfillment Center (IFC) was operating out of the poultry plant. With our internet business quickly growing, the need for a larger facility became apparent. Therefore, we moved our IFC to its own building with nearly 2000 square feet of freezer space and its own shipping dock.

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When we moved the IFC, we hit the ground running. We were filling all of the online orders while transitioning our entire inventory and implementing a new organization system all at the same time. It was a wild first couple of months, but by Thanksgiving we had a clean running machine and filled several hundred turkey orders in about three days. We are now working to fully digitize our inventory management paperwork and looking forward to a great year in 2017.

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8.) Iberian Hogs

This year saw our first successful breeding of Iberian hogs on White Oak Pastures land and our first Iberians to reached slaughter weight. Our Iberian hogs are some of the first Iberians ever born and raised outside of the Iberian peninsula. We have about 200 Iberians now.

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9.) Conversion of Garden to Pig Paddocks

We converted the land on which our organic garden used to be located into pig paddocks. Here, we are experimenting with forage cover crops to reduce the amount of feed we have to buy in from off farm. The cover crops also allow us to further increase soil organic matter, reduce soil compaction and promote a thriving microbial and fungal community in our soil. Our pigs also love the lush forage.

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10.) Hide Barn Construction 

Our new hide barn is well under way in construction. In September 2016, we received a Local Producer Loan from Whole Foods Market to build a new facility for our pet chews. 2016 saw us break ground and make great strides towards finishing this important building. Folks are more and more cautious about what they feed themselves and their pets and the demand for all natural, grass-fed pet chews has grown immensely.

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We began making hand-crafted rawhide pet chews on the farm in 2013 and at that time we were utilizing about 8 cattle hides each week. Due to customer demand, our department has grown immensely. Today we turn about 30 hides from fresh to sun-dried each week. Our goal is to quickly double that number once we move into the new facility.

DSC_0616.jpgThe hide barn building is conveniently located across from our General Store in Bluffton and will also include our tallow and leather departments, as well as a nice space to display our cowhide rugs.

Our building will include our leather workshop where we will make all our leather goods such as bags, bracelets, dog collars, etc. We hope our farm visitors will stop by to explore the new building and even bring along their pets!  This will be a cozy, crafty and comfortable space to hang out and even make your own bracelet. Visitors can watch the tallow soap, candle, or lip balm creation processes as well.

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As Mr. Will said, “2016 was the best year of my life and I have had a pretty long and damn good ride”.

Categories: Animal Welfare, Regenerative Land Management, Rural Community, Zero-Waste | 2 Comments

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