Farmer scrambles to deliver 500 dozen eggs to Warner Robins

chwright@macon.comJuly 17, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Tripp Eldridge loaded up cargo in Bluffton, south near the Alabama line, destined for Warner Robins at 6 a.m. Wednesday. He waved goodbye.

“It’s just gone uphill ever since,” Eldridge said later.

Not long after the driver left, Eldridge got a call. The 20-foot refrigerated truck had thrown a rod in Albany. So Eldridge scrambled to hitch a 12-foot refrigerated trailer to his truck and went to rescue the driver and precious cargo.

Ten miles on the other side of Albany, a tire exploded and destroyed the truck’s fender. But Eldridge had a mission.

“Every day, those chickens lay more eggs, and we have limited real estate,” he insisted. “We got to make way for those fresh eggs.”

Eldridge, a Warner Robins native, works for White Oaks Pastures, where an influx of chickens is laying more eggs than the farm’s refrigerating units can store. Thus, the farm donated 500 dozen of the surplus to the International City Farmers Market.

More than half completed the trip Wednesday. The others will be delivered next week.

“It’s the first time for our market to be involved in something like this,” said Jodi Daley, the farmers market organizer.

Daley arranged for the Warner Robins Housing Authority to receive 110 dozen, First United Methodist Church’s food pantry to receive 100 dozen and the Salvation Army to receive 200 dozen. The Community Outreach Service Center homeless shelter will also receive some, though Daley said she’s not sure how much because the person there underestimated the magnitude of the donation.

“She goes, ‘I’ll take a couple dozen,’ ” Daley said. “I’m like, ‘No, you don’t understand. We got way more than that!’ ”

White Oaks Pastures, which a Bluffton family has owned for five generations, has gone from 100 to 3,000 chickens in the past couple of years, according to Eldridge. The goal is to expand sales from just Atlanta-area Whole Foods to stores throughout the South.

But until those stores sign on, eggs are overrunning the farm. Eldridge said they’d prefer to sell the eggs, since it is a business.

“We’re not in the business of donating food,” he said. “We’re happy to do it, but this is a necessity.”

Eldridge said anyone can buy eggs from the farm, where the chickens are pasture-raised and have enough room to roam and peck and “express their instinctual behavior.” The farm also sells pasture-raised meat and organic vegetables.

The farm delivers produce to Warner Robins every week as part of the Community Supported Agriculture program and sells its products at the farmers market every Thursday evening.

Eldridge said he’s not sure when sales to other states might pick up, so the farm may have to “keep donating.”

Maybe with a less eventful trip, he said.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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