White Oak Pastures Turkey - Deborah Geering - Atlanta Magazine

Deborah Geering

Our columnist's musings on the local foods scene


White Oak Pastures Turkey

Will Harris III is on top


Photograph courtesy of White Oak Pastures

Even the most Chef Boyardee–fed among us can appreciate fresh local foods on Thanksgiving: Holiday fare like sweet potatoes and collards grow abundantly in the South this time of year. The meal’s traditional centerpiece is a different matter. Georgia’s confusing poultry inspection rules make it difficult and costly for most small farmers to raise turkeys. The ones who do often presell their birds way before November comes around.

Enter Will Harris III, the owner of White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia, famous for his grass-fed beef and on-site processing plant, a rarity among cattle farms of such small scale. For years he fielded requests for poultry raised in the same free-roaming environment. Harris finally decided to branch out. “Before January 2010, I had never owned a creature with a feather,” he says. Chickens came first, and turkeys soon followed. Last year he sold about 1,000 pastured Standard Bronze turkeys, a heritage breed known for their rich flavor.

This year Harris doubled his flock. And in September he opened his second USDA-inspected plant, this one built to process more than 100,000 birds a year. Purchase White Oak Pastures turkeys at whiteoakpastures.com, or buy them via Riverview Farms’ booths (grassfedbeef.com) at the East Atlanta, Morningside, and Peachtree Road farmers markets. As of press time, Whole Foods was also considering carrying the turkeys.

Deborah Geering is one of our contributing writers.
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