From the Tate Farm to Homeplace on Green River 220 Years in the Making
People continue to ask about Homeplace. Just what is Homeplace on Green River? Who owns it? What is its purpose? Where does the money come from? Can I just go there any time? And so on. So here are some of the answers.
Homeplace on Green River, located in Taylor County, is a 227-acre farm being restored as a permanent reminder for all ages of the role agriculture has played and is continuing to play in our lives. The idea of Homeplace on Green River was conceived in the late 1990s. The property was purchased and Homeplace was establish in 2001. It is a joint effort of Adair, Green and Taylor counties and is administered by an independent board of directors with representation from the three counties. Homeplace has registered and secured the name “Kentucky’s Outdoor Classroom” with Kentucky’s Secretary of State. That role for Homeplace was confirmed by the Kentucky Senate in March 2016.
The original home was built circa 1803 by Isaac Tate and has been expanded over the years. It is currently undergoing an extensive restoration/renovation. The farm has been the home to only three families in its 207 years—the Tates, the Buchanans and the Halls. Three generations of Tates owned the farm between 1803 and 1906 when the Henry A. Buchanan family purchased it. The Buchanans diversified the farm operations to include fruit, vegetables, feed crops and dairy cattle. In 1954 the farm was sold to the Hall family and Hall brothers Buster and Carl developed a very successful cattle business. It was the Hall family that sold the farm in 2001 to establish Homeplace on Green River.
As Kentucky’s Outdoor Classroom, Homeplace serves both public and private schools. Since January 2016 hundreds of students from all three counties as well as from Lindsey Wilson College have used Homeplace as an outdoor classroom. Homeplace is an always changing classroom for all ages.
At present, there are three major annual events at Homeplace, two family day festivals—The Plow Day/Spring Festival in April and the Fall Heritage Festival in September and a series of stage productions and other entertainment in the newly renovated barn at Homeplace.. The festivals offer a look at early life on the farm including food, music, animals, wagon rides, demonstrations and the sale of Kentucky made arts and crafts. For current information on activities at Homeplace click on here on the Current News link.
The more than five miles of well-marked trails on the adjacent Tebbs Bend \Green River Nature Area include the restored Blue Heron Wetlands, forests and prairies where wood ducks, cranes, eagles, wild turkeys, beaver, deer, otter, muskrat and many other species of birds and animals may be seen from the trails. There are two entry points to the trails, one at Homeplace and one on Tebbs Bend Road at the historic toll house shortly before crossing the Green River bridge. A recent grant will include an additional trail to the system which will be located on Homeplace property and connected to the Nature Area trail system. The trails are for foot traffic only.
In addition to the barn, the home has undergone thousands of dollars in restoration/renovation as have other historic buildings at Homeplace. Late in 2016 an anonymous donor offered a $5,000 gift if a matching amount could be raised by February 2017. Thanks to 33 businesses and individuals the goal was reached and has allowed the board to construct a pavilion to cover an early 1800s log-pen barn. As money is available the pavilion will be converted to an enclosed building to better protect the log-pen as well as serve as a museum for early American farm implements and equipment. Fund raising for completion of that project continues.
Homeplace has a rich history of national, state, and community support. Since receiving its 501 (c)(3) status in 2002, it has been granted over $850,000 in funding from more than 15 organizations, agencies and individuals. In addition to the three county governments, The Nature Conservancy, U.K. Cooperative Extension Service, Tebbs Bend Battlefield Association, Heartland Waterways Tourism Corridor, Kentucky Departments of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife, and Forestry, USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Services and others are playing a role in the re-establishment of the farm. Funding for initial purchase of the property was provided by The U. S. Farmland Protection Program.
The farm depends for its on-going operational expenses and labor on leasing its cropland, donations, and a considerable number of volunteers. The total 700+ acres that comprise Homeplace on Green River and the adjacent Tebbs Bend/Green River Nature area owned by Taylor County is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.