Bottom View Farm in Portland Teaches Children About Agriculture

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| Originally Published: August 24, 2020

Families can enjoy the pumpkin patch and more fall fun at Bottom View Farm in Portland; Photo credit: Jeff Adkins

After Ralph Cook graduated from high school in 1957, he took out a loan and bought 16.5 acres of farmland in Portland in northern Middle Tennessee. What started as a small hay operation later grew to nearly 700 acres, including a dairy farm he and his wife, Mary, founded in 1968. Today, Cook’s Bottom View Farm has fewer acres, but far more activity.

In 2007, when Highway 76 was extended into Sumner County, the Cooks sold the dairy farm and 190 acres. At the time, they had a restaurant on the property.

“One Saturday morning, there was a crowd at the restaurant, and we had run out of tomatoes,” Cook says. “I headed out to my garden across the road to get some more. When I came back, one little boy came up to me and asked if I’d gotten the tomatoes from Walmart. Right then, I knew we needed to do something to help educate kids about where their food comes from.”

Bottom View Farm has been filled with children and families ever since.

See more: Gourd-ness Gracious: It’s Pumpkin Season

Bottom View Farm

Aerial view of Bottom View Farm; Photo credit: Jeff Adkins

Pumpkins Galore

October is a particularly busy time on the farm, with a full pumpkin patch and a host of attractions for children. During the farm’s Fall Festival, kids can ride the pedal cars or visit a re-created Western town, complete with a post office, barbershop and jail. After picking out just the right pumpkin, they can take a hayride, a train ride, or visit Top of the Ridge restaurant for lunch or the Inside Scoop for their favorite ice cream while they enjoy the adjoining playground. Another can’t-miss attraction: Bottom View Farm is the site of the world’s longest rolled-hay maze.

Families and school groups enjoy learning about the working farm, where the Cooks still have hay and cattle operations. “We have a hog demonstration, where we teach how sausage is made,” Cook says. “And we educate about honeybees and their importance to agriculture.”

Photo credit: Jeff Adkins

Visitors can also feed the goats, go fishing in the farm’s pond and ride the donkeys. “Even in a city like Portland with just 12,000 people, there are many people who haven’t been on a working farm,” Cook says. “This gives them the chance to have fun and learn at the same time.”

See more: Farm Facts: Pumpkins

Because the farm is located just 30 miles outside of Nashville, there are also many children from the city who benefit from the educational activities provided by Ralph and Mary, their son, Glenn, and their daughter-in-law, Carolyn. In the fall, buses of schoolchildren descend upon Bottom View Farm for “Day at the Farm” tours that can include presentations on cows, goats, turkeys, chickens, honeybees and even peacocks. Plus, the fun Fall Festival activities are available, meals can be arranged and the pumpkin patch is open – to the delight of all.

Photo credit: Jeff Adkins

Berry Busy

For the pumpkin patch to be ready in the fall, the Cooks start planting in the spring. It’s actually the same time that Bottom View Farm is in the middle of the berry season. Visitors come to pick their own strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.

“We can do the picking for you, but kids really enjoy coming out and doing it themselves. It’s good for them to learn how and where food grows before they see it at the grocery store,” Cook says. They can also visit the on-site restaurant to enjoy the fresh fruit in some home-cooked desserts.

Bottom View Farm’s beautiful setting in the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee also makes it a popular destination for weddings. Brides and grooms can marry by the lake, in the repurposed barn, or even in the pumpkin patch.

“We enjoy sharing our land and the work we do with others who come from all around the state to see how a working farm operates,” Cook says. “It gives them a chance to enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful landscape of our rural location, which many of them have never experienced. It’s how we can contribute to educating others about what agriculture is and what it means for each and every family, no matter where they live or what they do.”

Bottom View Farm

Photo credit: Jeff Adkins

“We enjoy sharing our land and the work we do with others who come from all around the state to see how a working farm operates,” Cook says. “It gives them a chance to enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful landscape of our rural location, which many of them have never experienced. It’s how we can contribute to educating others about what agriculture is and what it means for each and every family, no matter where they live or what they do.”

If You Go

Bottom View Farm

Location: 185 Wilkerson Lane, Portland, TN 37148

Farm Restaurant Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Phone: (615) 325-7017

Website: bottomviewfarm.com

Fall Festival: Begins the last weekend of September and runs all of October. Weekends are the best time to visit to ensure all activities are open and running. Please call ahead to plan your visit, especially for weekdays.

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