White Oak Pastures: A Radically Traditional Farm Redefines Growth

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: April 29, 2021
Length: 16 pages
Product ID#: 9-453-550

Core Disciplines: Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Operations Management/Supply Chain, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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Industrial agriculture feeds the modern world but its practices, such as monocropping and use of chemicals, have caused significant damage to the environment and food supply. Regenerative agriculture, in contrast, is a set of holistic farming practices that is gaining in popularity as a method for not only increasing crop yields but also renewing the land. Business inputs vary greatly between the two: industrial production requires more complex machinery and external inputs, while regenerative agriculture relies on the Earth’s natural processes, but is dependent on additional labor costs.

This case explores a U.S. farm founded in 1866, White Oak Pastures, and the business acumen of current proprietor Will Harris III. Students will analyze the organization’s financial costs and risks, environmental impacts, change management, and potential for growth with innovative revenue streams.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Describe and analyze White Oak Pastures’ business model.
  • Perform a cost-benefit analysis of converting industrial farmland into regenerative.
  • Articulate challenges faced by modern farm owners.
  • Discuss supply chain structure and its implications on the 3 P’s (profit, people, and planet).
  • Develop innovative revenue streams for an organization like White Oak Pastures.