White Oak Pastures Spring Workshops and Events
By Laura Carson Miller
Everything about White Oak Pastures is awesome, including that it’s multigenerational, family-owned and committed to the principles of sustainability and stewardship. The five-generation farm, led by owner Will Harris, has operated continuously on the same land in Early County, Georgia, for more than 150 years. The farm now also offers on-site lodging and dining and is educating guests through a series of spring workshops and events to celebrate the season. From beekeeping to rotational grazing to organic pest management, there is no shortage of Saturday activities during April and May at White Oak Pastures.
“The best part of my job is getting to show guests how we operate, and this year we are offering so many special activities for visitors to do once they arrive,” says Jodi Harris Benoit, the farm’s events coordinator and agritourism manager, who has also been the driving force behind the farm’s workshops and on-site lodging.
In addition to trail riding, fishing and nature walks, Benoit organizes the following Saturday events taking place this season:
- Farm Tour on April 25, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.: A chartered bus will depart from The Friends School in Decatur to bring guests to White Oak Pastures for a fun-filled day. Upon arrival, lunch will be served at the Dining Pavilion, followed by an in-depth tour of the red meat and poultry abattoirs, the farm and organic vegetable garden. Afterwards, attendees can relax with a drink and enjoy an evening of fine dining on the farm before heading back to Decatur. Cost is $125 per person (lunch, supper and transportation are included).The tour is limited to 55 people.
- Seedling Starting Workshop on May 2, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.:This workshop will cover the basics of seed starting for a garden. Attendees will learn tools and tricks of the trade for seeding in a greenhouse or outdoor setting, strategies for coping with harsh weather conditions and how to optimize growing conditions to make healthy, vigorous transplants. This is a hands-on workshop, so attendees are encouraged to dress accordingly. A farm tour and lunch will take place before the workshop begins. Cost is $60 per person. Class is limited to 15 participants.
- May Day Event on May 2, 3 to 9:30 p.m. Guests are invited to the farm to enjoy a spring farm tour, drinks, live music and a four-course dinner featuring White Oak Pastures meats and seasonal veggies. The farm tour starts at 4:30 p.m.; followed by dinner and live music at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $20 per person for tour only, $65 for dinner and music only, or $75 for the whole event.
- Beginner’s Beekeeping Workshop on May 16, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: The day will start with a tour of White Oak Pastures. Then, participants will learn about honeybee biology, behavior, and how to keep bees of their own to provide important ecological services and make sweet golden honey. A live hive inspection will also take place if weather permits. The day will conclude with a discussion on Colony Collapse Disorder and how to create bee-friendly environments and promote bee health. Cost is $65 per person and includes lunch. Class is limited to 25 people.
- Organic Pest Management Workshop on May 30, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.This afternoon workshop will focus on methods of organic vegetable crop pest management, including prevention, pest identification and treatment strategies. Participants will learn the basics of an integrated pest management program that can be applied to small gardens and large farms alike. The workshop will also include a review of organic pest control products on the market and simple homemade alternatives, concluding with a discussion on beneficial insects and how to incorporate them into a natural pest control system. Attendees are encouraged to bring examples of insect damage from their home gardens. A farm tour and lunch will take place before the workshop begins. Cost is $65 per person. Class is limited to 20 people.
Harris and White Oak Pastures have received several awards for setting farming standards, contributing to the restaurant industry and being dedicated to the sustainability of organic farming in Georgia. Look for White Oak Pastures products at more than 1,000 Publix supermarkets throughout the Southeast and at Whole Foods Market locations from Miami, Florida, to Princeton, New Jersey. You can also enjoy their quality beef in restaurants, distributed by Kelly’s Foods, Buckhead Beef, Sysco Gulf Coast, and Sysco Atlanta, among others.
*photo credit Angie Mosier