Will Harris reflects on his career and his return to giving a damn

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Despite the popularity of regenerative agriculture at the moment and the fact that there are many inspiring farmers involved in the movement, it’s still rare to find experienced farmers, especially in large scale operations that have been working to regenerate their ecosystems and communities for more than 20 years. 

For this reason I was thrilled to connect with Will Harris of White Oak Pastures for a second time to dig into the remarkable career he’s had and the journey of transforming his farm into one of industrial beef production to a holistically managed multi-species farm that has been a beacon of the potential of regen ag in his region.
For those of you who didn’t catch the first episode I recorded with him, Will Harris is the owner of White Oak Pastures, in Georgia’s semi-tropical Coastal Plain. Described by his daughters as an “organic icon” of the Real Food movement, he is one of the very first people to bring grass-fed and humanely raised meat to the mainstream. Harris is one of the most outspoken critics of industrialized, centralized, and commoditized agriculture and is one of the most recognized leaders in the regenerative and resilient agriculture space. 

In this episode we focus on the new book that he’s just published titled A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food. 

We start by talking about the origins of his family’s tenure on the farm almost 150 years ago and how management and practices changed through the generations. 

From there Will shares his personal journey from following in the footsteps of his father who was a skilled industrial cattleman, to his awakening that gradually began to transform the way the farm was run. 

Along the way the town of Bluffton, GA where they’re located began to change and grow along with them and we discuss the role that White Oaks played in the revitalization of the community.

We also cover a wide range of insights from Will’s career from the challenges and hurdles that have been working against their vision from the political and industrial forces in the food system in the US, to points of hope and inspiration that make the difficulties worthwhile. 

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