Wauka Meadows Farm
Where: 5761 Cleveland Highway, Clermont
Where to buy: At the farm on Fridays and Saturdays and at Jaemor Farms in Alto, IGA in Cleveland and through the Northeast Georgia Locally Grown network at northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net
More info: 706-809-8846
There’s two donkeys named Thelma and Louise, who think they’re dogs. Gus the Rooster, who is very protective of his ladies — lashing out at the occasional henhouse visitor. And, two lambs: Easter, who was born during Holy Week, and Pumpkin Pie, who had a recent cameo in a local church musical.
The two lambs have been spared the fate of their wooly colleagues at the 60-acre farm in Clermont where they roam. And as to the donkeys and the rooster, they’re a permanent fixture now. Once you get named, you’re there to stay.
Landowner Mary Beth Alexander says the animals on her farm are happy. That’s why they act out. That’s why they like to show a little personality. Blissful livestock in the green pasture.
Welcome to Wauka Meadows Farm.
A joint venture of two local families, the business raises livestock, selling lamb chops, sausage, chicken, bacon, eggs and beef all around the community.
While Wauka Meadows Farm has only been up and running since November 2014, the establishment has deeper roots.
With a decade of experience raising livestock and selling meat, Nick and Tova Ball originally operated as Double B Farms. The couple met the Alexander family (Mary Beth and Andy) at church last year and started kicking around some ideas.
The Ball Family was doing good business as Double B Farms, but they were running out of land. The Alexanders had a nice piece of property in Clermont, and they wanted to do something with it.
The thing that really tied these four together was a vision they shared. The folks who run Wauka Meadows Farm want to provide fresh, high-quality meat to local residents at an affordable price.
“The importance of how we feed our families is critical,” Alexander said. “I believe it would be in everybody’s best interest if we all got back to eating more locally. One of the things that is sometimes hard to find is locally grown meat.”
Alexander said before the partnership was forged, Nick and Tova Ball were “locally famous at the farmer’s markets for their meat. We really fell in love with what they were doing and really believed in the way they took care of and raised the animals.”
Farm Manager Nick Ball’s method for raising livestock is, put simply, a back-to-basics approach that is free of chemicals and where animals are fed only what is growing naturally and/or is made of ingredients that are non-GMO, meaning without genetically modified organisms.
Ball rotates the animals to different parts of the pasture on a regular schedule, accommodating the appetites of each.
“The sheep are pickier,” Ball said. “They’ll eat what they want. Then, the cows come through later, and they eat what the sheep didn’t eat. Then, the chickens come through, and they get rid of the parasites and dethatch the grass.”
The pigs, Ball said, get to root on the outskirts of the pasture.
“Pigs want to be pigs and express their pigness,” he said. “We encourage that.”
Ball said Juan Luna, of downtown Gainesville restaurant Luna’s, came by to visit the farm recently and reacted with surprise at how the pigs were eating grass instead of just feed.
“They were just biting it up like a cow,” Ball said. “That’s what they like. We want them to be happy and do whatever it is they do that makes them happy.”
Luna said he was indeed impressed by what he saw at Wauka Meadows Farm.
“I’m considering buying some of my meat from there and offering it at my restaurant,” Luna said. “These animals, they are happy animals. This is how animals should look. You feel good about eating these kinds of animals. They are not in a cage. They are in a totally great environment.”
Alexander feels “if there were more farms like this one, we could really serve the communities of America with quality food.”
“We want to offer reasonably priced meat for our local community,” she added. “That’s what we strive to focus on, to keep our costs down as low as we can so we can offer it to the average family. We don’t want this to be a boutique operation with fancy, expensive food for the rich. We want local families to be able to purchase their meat from us.”
Wauka Meadows Farm products are sold at farmers markets around Hall County. The food is also available at Jaemor Farms, at IGA in Cleveland, and it can be purchased through the Northeast Georgia Locally Grown network at northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net.
There’s also a small store out in front of the farm itself that’s open on Fridays and Saturdays. The address is 5761 Cleveland Highway, Clermont. For more information, call 706 809-8846 or visit www.waukameadowsfarm.com.