MAKING MEMORIES SINCE 1948.
Tate Farms is well known in North Alabama as a pumpkin farm, however pumpkins have only been a part of the farm for the last seventeen out of sixty five years of farming for Homer Tate and his family.
TATE FAMILY HISTORY
The Tate family has a rich agricultural heritage dating back to 1810 in southwest Virginia. The Tate family first came to Madison County in 1867 from Warren County, Tennessee. William (Will) Tate began share cropping on the current farm location in the early 1900's. His son, Carl, farmed there after his father became ill ,and in 1948 his brother, Homer, took over the responsibility of farming the land. Homer raised his four sons, Mike, Steve, Mark and Jeff on the farm and each of the sons purchased additional land and farmed into adulthood. That has changed very little; today Tate Farms is a joint venture partnership of Homer and his sons: Mike, Steve and Jeff, and his nephew Pat Brown. Each of the five partners brings expertise to a special area of managing and running the farm. A couple of the partner's wives, Michele and Cristall, are a big part of the farm pumpkin operation. Many of the partner's children are involved with the pumpkin business as well.
The site of the farmstead was once a thriving trading area for local sharecroppers, as they took advantage of the general store, a blacksmith shop, a grist mill, a saw mill, seed cleaning and other related services offered by John Patterson, grandfather of Homer Tate. Patterson built the farm house in 1907. In the 1930's, the house became the home of Will and Carrie Tate, parents of Homer, until 1994. The house is still occupied by the family.
ABOUT THE FARM
The farm, located in the red clay soils of the Tennessee Valley, consists of 5,000 acres of family owned and leased land. While the farm produces several different crops, including corn, wheat, soybeans and pumpkins, the principal crop has always been cotton. The family also manages around a 50 head of beef cows. Homer began farming with around 50 acres that he plowed with a mule. Today, this huge amount of acreage is managed with 200 horse power tractors pulling modern equipment. Homer and his workers picked cotton by hand back in 1948 and carried the cotton on their backs in a tow sack. Today, the cotton is harvested with a cotton picker that picks 6 rows at a time, doing the work of 100 men.
Other changes on the farm include the addition of irrigation in 1988, which provides essential water in dry weather. Watered plants can produce up to one and a half times more yield than those plants receiving only rainwater. There are currently 18 center pivot irrigation systems in operation, watering approximately 1,800 acres. In 2004, sub surface drip irrigation was introduced to water an additional 200 acres of row crops.
TATE FARMS COTTON PICKIN' PUMPKINS
In 1996, with 15 acres of pumpkins, Tate Farms Cotton Pickin’ Pumpkins, a fall farm agritainment business was introduced. The name was chosen carefully to reflect the family agricultural heritage. Plans were made to attract school children to acquaint them with the rural lifestyle and promote agriculture. The Tate family wanted children to see for themselves how the food they eat is grown and how the cotton they wear as clothes begins on a plant.
Today’s operation includes some 60 acres of pumpkins and gourds in many shapes, sizes and colors. The pumpkin business has expanded to include more than tours for school children. Today, in addition to school tours, Tate Farms is open in pumpkin season for families to spend time on the farm. Activities include: hayrides to the pumpkin fields to pick a fresh pumpkin off the vine, petting animals, barnyard playground, corn cribs, jumping pillow, hay maze, corn train rides, cotton jump, picnic areas, two restaurant facilities, Country Store, antique farm equipment, and a huge produce shed for fall decor purchases.
Out of pumpkin season, the farm is now a rental facility for small and large events. An Entertainment Barn was built to provide an indoor reception/dining area, as well as space for weddings, receptions, company picnics and birthday parties. A rock garden was formed to provide a nice wedding background. The Pavilion is an additional rental space. The most recent addition is an indoor pavilion used in pumpkin season, but available year round for rental.
MAKE MEMORIES AT TATE FARMS
The Tate Farms experience provides exposure to a unique working farm, where memories are planted as well as crops.