Over the past decade, we have built a strong team of butchers, cowboys, farmers and everything in between.
Will Harris is a fourth-generation cattleman, who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, Will left home to attend the University of Georgia's School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. Will graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.
These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990s Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for their cattle, and, as Will says, "nature abhors a monoculture." In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.
Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. Will is the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of Georgia Organics. He is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association and was selected 2011 Business Person of the year for Georgia by the Small Business Administration.
Will lives in his family home on the property with his wife Yvonne. He is the proud father of three daughters, Jessi, Jenni, and Jodi. His favorite place in the world to be is out in pastures, where he likes to have a big coffee at sunrise and a 750ml glass of wine at sunset.
Brian, our Director of Operations, knows good beef. Growing up on a caladium farm in Lake Placid, Florida, Brian threw himself into the study of agriculture and food production at a young age, eventually earning a B.S. in Food and Resource Economics, as well as a Masters in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida. During his studies, he also got the opportunity to work in several different roles at the university's meat processing center.
In 2008 Brian brought his wealth of knowledge to White Oak Pastures' brand new certified humane beef processing plant where he is in charge of day-to-day operations. Recently Brian's domain widened when he was put in charge of constructing the new White Oak Pastures poultry processing plant.
Jenni Harris, Will's middle daughter, is a member of the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend cattle at White Oak Pastures. After living on the farm her entire life, Jenni went to Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Business Marketing, graduating in 2009. She remained intimately involved in the family business throughout her studies.
After graduating, Jenni set out to learn the industry. She moved to Atlanta where she interned at Buckhead Beef, a SYSCO company. She put in time in every department, from shipping and receiving to the cut shop, and was later hired to work as a sales associate.
In June of 2010, Jenni returned home to Early County to work for White Oak Pastures full time. As the Director of Marketing, Jenni spends her time focusing on the balance of ecommerce growth and wholesale relationships. Jenni is the proud mother of Jack Harris and wife of Director of Specialty Products, Amber Harris.
Kristi joined our team in March 2021. With an extensive background in office management, she was the perfect fit as a Customer Service Representative. After a few short months, she accepted the position as Customer Service Manager. Kristi and her team take care of all of our customers needs while fostering new relationships with each of them. Kristi also manages our Village Loyalty Program and works closely with our Village Members.
Kristi was born and raised in Early County where she graduated from Early County High School. She and her husband, JT, have five children and six grandchildren. In her spare time, she can be found on her own farm spending time with family, cooking, reading, or snuggling with her fur babies. Kristi is a great asset to our team and has a bright future here at White Oak Pastures.
Justin "Buck" Wiley began working at White Oak Pastures in July of 2009. He was hired as a butcher and worked hard to prove himself until he was promoted to Processing Manager. Buck takes pride in his work and in making our customers happy. He manages 38 employees and 35 head of cattle each day in the Red Meat Abattoir. He arrives at the plant early in the morning and is typically one of the last people to leave. He carries a lot of responsibility, but also has the pleasure of working with some of his best friends every day. He's a great guy, with a huge heart and a constant smile on his face. We couldn't be happier to have him as part of our work family!
John, White Oak Pastures' Director of Livestock, is from Fitzgerald, Georgia. John attended Valdosta State University and has been at White Oak Pastures since December 2012. John is the proud father of Hattie and Harris Benoit and husband to Director of Farm Experience, Jodi Benoit.
Amber Harris, Director of Specialty Products, was born in Adairsville, Georgia. After several years of living in Atlanta, she moved to White Oak Pastures in June of 2013. She believes she has finally become acclimated to the culture shock experienced with moving from a big city to one with a population of 88. Other than loving the farm, Jenni Harris played a pretty big part in bringing her to Bluffton to live, work, and build a family. Although she came to us with no farming background, she is passionate about our zero-waste practices and has helped create our tallow kitchen, leather workshop, and pet chews department. Amber and Jenni can be found most evenings chasing their 4-year-old son, Jack, around the pasture and teaching him that chicken eggs are not to be thrown like a ball, they are to be eaten!
Jodi Harris Benoit
Jodi Harris Benoit, Will's youngest daughter, is a member of the the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend livestock at White Oak Pastures. Jodi has always played an active role in helping her dad and the cowboys work cattle each season. Jodi graduated from Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Speech Communication in 2012. After graduating, Jodi followed her dad's rule, working away from the farm for at least one year. She was a Support Coordinator for Professional Case Management Services of America. In this position, she was an advocate for adults with developmental disabilities. In January of 2014, Jodi began working full time at White Oak Pastures. As the Director of Farm Experience, she is responsible for education, giving guided tours of the farm, and overseeing on-farm lodging, dining and the General Store in downtown Bluffton. Jodi is also the proud mother of Hattie and Harris who are part of the 6th generation of the farm.
Mallory Burdeshaw joined our accounting department in the fall of 2020. With her customer service background and incredible organizational skills, she quickly became our Accounts Receivable Manager. She grew up in Blakely, GA where she and her husband are now raising their 2 children. Her dedication to her family, friends, and the farm is inspiring for us all and we are so proud she's a part of our team!
Rita began working at White Oak Pastures in April of 2020. Rita was recently an auditor for a CPA office and worked in Albany Georgia for years before deciding the city is not where she wanted to stay. She began her journey with us as Human Resource Manager and handles all aspects of Payroll. Rita has an extensive background in Accounting from AR, AP, fixed assets, general ledger, payroll to filing taxes.Rita grew up on a farm in the “Great State of Baker”, County Georgia that is. She is a very proud mother of two young ladies, Taylor and Maci. When not at work, Rita can be found sitting in a dove field during Dove Season. Her other hobbies include traveling, gardening, cooking, reading, crossword puzzles and diamond dots. She also likes to remind Will Harris of the many years ago when she worked for Will at her first “real job”in 1985-86.
Felicia is from Blakely GA, born and raised, but now lives in Arlington GA. Lisa began working at White Oak Pastures in 2012 in the processing room of the poultry plant. Felicia is the Poultry Processing Manager, and works closely with production and sales.
Ty Long was born in southwest Georgia and raised in the Appalachian mountains. Some of his earliest memories are working in his grandparents’ garden and around the family farm. Upon moving back to his family’s homeplace in Colquitt, Georgia, he began working as farmhand on conventional row crop farms in the area and developed a disdain for modern industrial agricultural practices. Drawing upon lessons learned from his grandfather, he cultivated an interest in more traditional organic practices and began working in the Organic Garden at White Oak Pastures in early 2018. He now lives on-farm in Bluffton and manages the department he started in.
Lashona Butler, the on-farm Commissary Manager, came to White Oak Pastures in 2012 with years of experience in the food industry. However, she has continued to learn, progress, and develop strategies that enrich our dining experiences, for both employees and guests. From working in our Poultry Department and making tallow and pet chews in our Pet Chew Department, Lashona has come full circle, back to her passion for cooking. Lashona has the gift of knowing how to effectively manage her staff and all the responsibilities that come with being the manager of the on-farm commissary. As busy as Lashona is at work, she might be just as busy, if not more, at home. With three athletic sons, fifteen-year-old TreShawn and nine-year-old twins, Rae’Shawn and Dre’Shawn, LaShonna spends her leisure time at her sons’ football, basketball, and baseball games. Last but not least, Lashona is engaged to William Clyde, who we must say, has found himself an amazing woman!
Mallory Middleton is the White Oak Pastures General Store Manager. She joined our team in May 2018 after graduating Early County High School. She has also worked in our Organic Garden and Internet Fulfillment Center. Mallory is currently attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. She enjoys going to the beach, hanging out with her coworkers, and being outdoors.
Denna Peterson, Manager of Administration, calls Blakely, GA home. Hailing from a military family, Denna was born in Italy and has lived in Florida, Hawaii, and Washington before settling in Georgia. She provides valuable support to our farm by managing our fixed assets, maintaining our accounts payable, and serving as a liaison with our Purchasing Department. Her skills extend beyond finance to her incredible artistic ability as a craftswoman. Embracing sustainability in her work, Denna uses reclaimed materials to create imaginative forms for others to enjoy. Her pieces include decorated skulls from the farm, festive trees made from oyster shells, driftwood, and bone wall sconces, and light fixtures using repurposed metal and wire.
William (Bill) Perryman began working at White Oak Pastures in October of 2016. He holds a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Management. Bill worked for the largest independent oil company in the US at the time as manager of their Warehouse/Purchasing Department in Breckenridge, Texas. Bill returned to Georgia in 1994 and worked for Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance as a Field Adjuster for eleven counties. He retired from the Farm Bureau in 2015. He joined White Oak Pastures as IFC Manager and is currently working as Purchasing Manager. Bill enjoys working with the farm managers to get the materials needed to do their jobs more efficiently. Bill spends weekends and free time on his small farm in Randolph County, Georgia. He enjoys trips to South Dakota with family and friends to hunt pheasant. Bill also helps take care of all the rescue dogs his wife, JoDel, brings home.
Scott Cleveland, born and raised in Miller/Early County, spent most of his life on his grandfather's farm where his family still raises cattle. There, Scott developed a deep-rooted interest in raising livestock. Scott is a proud father to his son and best friend, Aidan Cleveland. Scott joined the White Oak Pasture team in late 2018 where he was hired as a cattle hand. After working there for several months, Scott was presented with the opportunity to become the Cattle Production Manager. Scott is proud to be entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the entire cattle operation from birth to slaughter. Scott doesn't see this as just a job but as an opportunity to be with an extended family doing what he loves doing!
Olivier's journey into the real food movement and the Paleo diet led him to the Savory Institute. Back home, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti he experimented with tropical fruit trees and vegetable gardening. Carbon sequestration, healthy food, and business profitability are what drew him to our internship program in the summer of 2017. "I love plants, animals, and being outside" he says and loves studying Regenerative Agriculture since 2013. Olivier later accepted a position as the Hog program assistant manager where he spent 2 years raising our Iberian hogs and heritage breeds. In 2019 he transferred to the Cattle department and gained a whole new understanding and appreciation for the positive impact these animals can have on our land when managed properly. The next chapter in this journey is more on the infrastructure side of the farm where Olivier was called to manage the Fence team.
Kris, our Farm Operations Manager, was born and raised in the hills of Central Massachusetts where his family had a small farm many years ago. He grew up playing ice hockey as a goalie for 23 years. He met his wife in 2009, and in 2014, they found their way to Southwest Georgia, where they found a house, some land, and White Oak Pastures. He started off as our delivery truck driver, making weekly runs to Atlanta, and also working in the red meat abattoir. He then started working with our livestock production departments and was then promoted to the Farm Operations Manager, overseeing many crews that keep the farm running: carpentry, fencing, maintenance. With his interest and training in humane stockmanship, he also plays a role in moving our flocks and herds. You may also find him feeding orphaned sheep, operating heavy equipment, planting grass, hauling hay, and anything else to help keep operations moving smoothly. He spends his free time with his wife Danyelle, daughter Kali, and son Coleman, who enjoy traveling to horse shows where Kali competes in speed events such as barrel racing. They also enjoy camping and hanging out at home with their many animals.
Randy Morris manages our mechanic shop. Randy grew up in Marianna, FL and joined the U.S. Army after high school. He spent 9 years with Uncle Sam in military intelligence. Randy moved to Blakely, Georgia in 1997 where he spent 10 years in the mining industry before opening his own auto repair and tire shop in 2008. Randy has been with White Oak Pastures since August 2018. He and his crew repair and maintain approximately 40 vehicles, 6 semi-trucks. 7 tractors and countless trailers and farm implements. He works hard to insure that each department has the equipment to do their jobs daily. He assess department’s needs, then he and his team designs and build equipment to help them overcome the obstacles that arise in their day to day operations. Randy is very happy to be part of WOP and is excited about being able to help us grow in our future endeavors. .
Walker Holmes, the Makerspace Manager, was born and raised in Adairsville, Georgia. He discovered White Oak Pastures while in high school and took every opportunity to visit and work when his school schedule allowed. During this time, he created tallow product recipes, developed leathercraft designs, and helped train new employees within the tallow and leather departments. In December 2020, he graduated from Reinhardt University with a Bachelor's in Music Education. He hopes to continue to develop and explore his love for creating during his time with us.
Cole was born and raised in Northern Virginia. Realizing at a young age that the big city life was not for him., he attended West Virginia University where he studied Agricultural Business. Once leaving West Virginia Cole received the opportunity to visit and work for a family friend on his farm in Virginia, where he found his passion for self-sustaining farming. Cole then had an internship opportunity here at White Oak Pastures that led to him staying for three years on the poultry team. In 2017 Cole moved to Texas to work on a pasture poultry and pastured hog farm for three years. After his journey in Texas he decided to rejoin the White Oak family and become our Hog Production manager. He lives on the farm with his wife Jamie, where they are raising their two children, Addison and Grainger.
Brandi began working at White Oak Pastures in 2018 in the accounting office. She grew up in Tampa, FL. Has two sons Daniel and Brandon. She loves animals and being outdoors. She worked in Furniture for 25 years, worked for a restaurant food supplier and worked in Property management for foreign investors but later moved to Carnegie, GA for peace, quiet, fresh air and to raise deer on her property. She enjoys working with the great people at White Oak Pastures, loves the family story and the whole idea of regenerative and zero waste farming.
Wes Ruff, our Inventory Manager, is a Georgia native born in Athens, who has worked in and around the meat industry since he was 18 years old. From the retail side to regional purview, his overall experience in the meat category is just under three decades and includes Journeyman certification, department leadership, and logistics/supply chain management with major supermarkets in the southeast. Over the years, he has enjoyed educating consumers on not only the quality of the proteins they are shopping for, but also the suggested methods for cooking to ensure the best dining experience past the sale. Wes has also served as a youth pastor in several churches and spent two years as a part time lobbyist with a foreign policy organization. In his spare time, Wes enjoys studying theology, writing, and smoking meats, cheeses, and cigars. He and his wife, Kathryn Ruff, met during their time working together and have five children in their blended family.
Bridget was born and raised in Lawrenceville, GA outside of Atlanta and despite growing up in the suburbs always wanted to be a farmer when she grew up. She graduated with a degree in Economics and International Relations from Georgia State University in 2010 and spent the next nine years in sales and operations. In 2019, Bridget reclaimed her childhood dream when she came to White Oak Pastures as an intern. She fell in love with the small ruminants department and took a full-time position assisting in the development of the solar grazing operation. Bridget now manages the small ruminants team.
Kathryn was born in Savannah, Georgia and has lived in her home state most of her life. With a heart to see the world impacted in meaningful ways, she has built a career in marketing helping local businesses build their legacy.
Kathryn loves the challenge that comes with learning new skills and has worked in a variety of industries including e-commerce, event coordination, nutrition, and pet related initiatives. She and her husband, Wes, have been friends and customers of White Oak Pastures for many years and now help manage the marketing team.
Recardo, the Plant Fulfillment Manager, began working with White Oak Pastures in 2021 as a Quality Control Manager. He grew up in Blakely, GA, where he played football for the Early County Bobcats. After completing high school, Recardo went to Georgia Tech on a football scholarship. He spent four years in the flats and graduated with a B.S. degree in Business Management. He has several years working in Management in many fields such as health and fitness, transportation, and food service. Recardo is an avid sports lover who loves to spend time with family and friends.
Hadley Gilmore started riding horses in her hometown of Athens, Alabama over 10 years ago. She got her start riding English Dressage and Show Jumping. Since then, she's developed a passion for riding and taking care of horses. In addition to Dressage and Jumping, she also has experience riding in the Hunter Jumpers, Equitation, and trail riding across the country. She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2022 with a BA in Equestrian Studies and minors in Business Management and Drawing. She also rode on her school's competitive Equestrian Team. Upon graduation, she joined the White Oak Pastures team to manage the Equine department. She gives trail rides, riding lessons, and is devoted to keeping White Oak's horses happy and healthy.