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• As a result of his success as an organic farm owner and diversified livestock producer, Harris has been selected as the Georgia state winner of the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
Over the years, Will Harris of Bluffton, Ga., has developed his White Oak Pastures into the largest organic farm in Georgia.
The fourth generation farmer has added meat processing to the operation and has become a provider of high-quality natural products to upscale grocery stores and restaurants.
As a result of his success as an organic farm owner and diversified livestock producer, Harris has been selected as the Georgia state winner of the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
Harris joins nine other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.
A farmer for 37 years, Harris operates 1,200 acres of rented land and 1,100 acres of owned land. His enterprises include 700 beef cows, a sheep operation with 400 ewes, 50 nannies in his goat herd, 30 sows in his hog herd and 150 doe rabbits. Annually, he raises about 300,000 chickens, 3,000 geese, 3,000 ducks, 5,000 turkeys and 5,000 guinea fowl. He also grows irrigated organic vegetables on five acres.
“We ship fresh meat and poultry to grocery and restaurant distributors,” he says. “We also ship directly to restaurant chefs and independent stores. We have an on-farm restaurant and a retail store that sells our products. We want our farm to be a ‘food hub’ to attract visitors to southwest Georgia.”
His online store ships products to customers. “We also have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) business,” he says. CSA consumers pay fees to farms that entitle them to certain amounts of food. “Our CSA business has separate buying groups for our organic vegetables, red meats, poultry meats and eggs,” says Harris. “We deliver this food to central locations in nearby cities.”
He sells vegetables fresh, canned, pickled or otherwise preserved. “We do all of this on the farm,” adds Harris. “Our eggs are candled, washed and sorted for sale daily.”
His other specialty enterprises include sausage products, a composting operation, honey bees, tanning hides for leather, mushroom production and an heirloom fruit orchard.