EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday, The Eagle will publish its annual Wiregrass Pride 2019 special edition highlighting some of the area’s best aspects – from business, healthcare, education, faith, community and people. As a preview of the type of content readers will find in Wiregrass Pride 2019, we are sharing this story about Headland’s Todd Farms.
HEADLAND – Joe Todd knows first-hand how tourism in Alabama can not only benefit a business, but an entire area.
Todd, owner of Todd Farms, relocated his business from Cottonwood to this Henry County community in 2012. Since the farms’ relocation, the number of guests visiting one of the area’s main attractions has skyrocketed.
When visitors stop at the business located on U.S. 431, they enter a general store-style building with shelves showcasing the Todd family’s syrups, jellies, pickles, relish, barbeque sauces, salsas and other products while enjoying the aromas coming from the popular Todd Farms Café, but, as tourists and locals soon learn, there’s so much more.
“We have a great location here in Headland,” Todd said. “We have a lot to offer our guests who stop by. Not only can you watch syrup making, eat a great meal, shop the general store, guests can also travel back in time while they visit our syrup making museum.
“We also have an RV camping spot at the farm and a pavilion area for those who wish to host or attend special functions, such as our annual Syrup Making and Field Day event.”
This year’s Southeastern Syrup Making and Sugar Cane Field Day event is scheduled for Oct. 14. The event will include guest speakers and station displays from Industrial Metal Works and Golden’s Foundry.
“We have people travel from all over the Southeast to attend this event,” Todd said. “This event continues to grow every year and we look forward to see return guests and new guests. Actually, we have guests stop in from all over the United States throughout the year. Some guests have made Todd Farms their annual destination during their vacation; and that’s a blessing to us.”
Todd Farms guests can enjoy a meal at Todd Farms Café. The cafe is operated by Todd’s son and daughter-in-law, Dewey and Annette Todd. Guests who wish to learn more about the history of syrup making can see syrup being made and visit the museum to take a trip back in time to see how life on the farm actually was is in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
Todd Farms also has an RV Park set up to hold 27 RVs.
“Since we opened our RV Park, it usually stays booked up, but I encourage everyone to call and check to see if we have availability,” Todd said. “Not only are our guests close to Headland’s and Abbeville’s attractions, we are very close to Dothan and not far at all from Eufaula, for those who wish to enjoy a little fishing.”
Todd Farms recently expanded it services to include selling cane mills that Todd designed based on his many years of operating and repairing the mills.
Todd’s new mills are manufactured by Industrial Metal Works in Dothan.
“We are working with Industrial Metal Works in Dothan with our cane mills and the mills are really taking off,” Todd said. “This is the first time a cane mill has been manufactured in Dothan. I can honestly say this quality of a cane mill is made better items built in China. We have two models currently being manufactured – Todd Mill Model One and Todd Mill Model Two.”
The Model One series has been distributed to South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida Arkansas, and Kansas. The Model Two series has been distributed to Haiti, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and one regionally in Brundidge.
Todd said he isn’t surprised the new mills are growing in popularity because a lot of people are do-it-yourself types, similar to the way things are done at Todd Farms.
Todd’s Syrup Making History:
In 1861, the South changed forever with the start of the Civil War. It was in the fall of 1864 that Thomas Todd's son, Eli, walked home following the Battle of Atlanta. Thomas and grandson Billy were stripping cane when they looked up and saw Eli walking home. That fall, those three made syrup together.
The tradition continued when Billy moved to south Alabama in the late 1860s with his mother. He set up farming, including syrup making, near Brundidge where Lockard Dewey Todd was born in 1898. L.D. Todd continued the syrup-making tradition and trained his three sons, Max, Gene and Joe.
Todd and his family have been bottling and selling syrup since 1997. Todd retired from law enforcement after 36 years, and the couple returned to the Wiregrass to live on a farm in Cottonwood. The first thing Todd planted was sugar cane.
In 2012, Todd made the decision to relocate the syrup farm near where his great-grandfather, Eli, settled in Henry County, and bought the current 76 acres on U.S. Highway 431 South in Headland. Now, his son and daughter-in-law Dewey and Annette and grandchildren Will and Haley have joined the family business.
Sugar cane grows through the late summer and early fall months and depending on the variety can be harvested as early as October and as late as December. When the sugar cane reaches maturity, the cane is stripped and the green, leafy tops are cut off.
Then, Todd cuts the cane. The cut cane is gathered and taken to the syrup barn where Todd feeds it into the mill to squeeze the juice from the cane. The cane remnants are composted. The juice is filtered and put in the kettle. And the routine of making syrup starts all over.
For more information on Todd Farms call 334-693-2004 or visit toddfarms.com.