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After visiting Polyface Farms in Virginia, Will Powers wanted to try alternative farming methods at The Pastures of Rose Creek via rotational livestock farming. [Photo by Katie Tiller]

When Will Powers’ grandfather turned down a full-ride basketball scholarship at The University of Georgia to take care of the family farm, he established a tradition.

“He was built like a silo,” said Powers. “I compare him to John Wayne, but bigger. Kind, but hardy.”

The Pastures of Rose Creek, a 350-acre family farm situated on Colham Ferry Road, has been family owned since 1911.

Harkening back to the times before commercial farming, Rose Creek operates a little differently than many modern farms.

“We decided to get into a non-chemical way of doing it,” explained Powers. “My mom was sick a few times, and she eventually died of cancer; we think it was related to the chemicals because they used DDT back in the ’60s and ’70s.”

The Pastures of Rose Creek is home to 36 head of cattle varying in type from Charolais, Hereford and Angus to Gelbvieh and Santa Gertrudis. Powers owns two bulls: one a Limousin Angus, the other Piedmontese double-muscled bull.

“With the double muscle, it’s leaner; they’re healthier,” Powers said of his Piedmontese.

All Rose Creek beef is grass fed and can be purchased at either of the Athens farmers markets. Rose Creek eggs are also sold at the markets.

The cows and chickens raised at Rose Creek have a symbiotic relationship. Powers will rotate the cows through the property, allowing them to consume the grass before following through with his chickens, who then help to spread out the manure.

“I go back behind it and throw seed out on top of it and replant more grasses,” explained Powers. “I’m not trying to feed the world; I’m just trying to feed the community. We’re doing less than conventional farming would, but the animals are happier, they’re healthier, the food is better and the people who buy from me are now family.”

Powers graduated from Oconee County High School, attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and then The University of Georgia.

When his mother convinced him to return home to the family farm, Powers took a trip to Joe Salatin’s Polyface Farms in Virginia to explore different types of farming. 

“The Amish were there taking notes from him, so I felt like I needed to pay attention,” Powers quipped. “It was more up the entire family’s alley as far as what we wanted to do: rotation and grazing animals, symbiotic relationships, how to do two or three things at once.”

Powers and the rest of the family at Rose Creek agreed that rotational, non-commercial farming was more their speed and more interesting of an undertaking.

“This is really an older way of farming,” explained Powers. “A lot of people think it’s newer, but it’s the way things were before modern-day technology. It’s important to have food for people, but you also need to have variety.”

Powers said farming makes him feel closer to his family.

“I’m working on something the people before me worked on,” he said. “My mother got me to come back and start farming, so I feel a little connected with her through it.”

Rather than trying to feed the world, Powers is trying to provide healthier options for those in his community.

“There are a lot of people who are looking for healthier options,” he said. “It shouldn’t be an expensive thing. I don’t want it to be considered a rich thing; I want it to be something everyone can enjoy. Providing a better place for these animals takes more time and effort and money, but we’re constantly getting better.”

Rose Creek is a local beef provider for Heirloom Café in Athens and Chops and Hops in Watkinsville.

For more, see the July 19 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.

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