A cornucopia of colors greets guests to Tate Farms in Meridianville. This year, nestled in with the autumn orange, green and white gourds, light pink pumpkins make a statement about the farm’s fight against breast cancer.
The Tates grew Pink Porcelain Doll and Rascal varieties of pumpkins as part of Pickin’ For A Cure, the farm’s inaugural breast cancer awareness event. On the first Saturday in October, the Tates donated a portion of their gate sales from their Cotton Pickin’ Pumpkins to the Liz Hurley Breast Cancer Fund at the Huntsville Hospital Foundation.
“We’re the Tennessee Valley’s pumpkin destination for the fall, and we wanted to team up with the Tennessee Valley’s breast cancer center,” said Stewart McGill, who is operations manager for the farm.
The fund, started 14 years ago, is named for WAFF-TV anchor and breast cancer survivor Liz Hurley. A fixture of north Alabama television news, Hurley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 1998.
“I knew that if I could survive through this breast cancer diagnosis, I would try to make a difference in the north Alabama community for women who would come after me,” Hurley said.
With money raised by Hurley, Huntsville Hospital built a dedicated breast health center. The non-profit organization has raised more than $3 million to help purchase early-detection equipment and fund breast cancer research projects.
“I can’t thank Tate Farms enough for growing pink pumpkins,” said Hurley, who took time to pick a few of the pink pumpkins for herself. “Who would’ve thought we would be where we are, growing pink pumpkins as a way to help women in the fight against breast cancer?”
McGill said Tate Farms had discussed hosting a breast cancer awareness event for a number of years, and pink pumpkins were a perfect fit. While the family does not have a direct link to anyone struggling with the disease, McGill said he understands the importance of helping raise awareness.
“We’re constantly trying to find a way to give back, because the community has supported us so well,” McGill said. “Without the community, we’re nothing.”
The Tate Farms Cotton Pickin’ Pumpkins is among the top agritourism sites in the state. Madison County Farmers Federation Board Member Steve Tate said the pink pumpkins were a perfect way to connect farmers with their community.
“Breast cancer affects women from all walks of life and has impacted almost every family in our community,” Tate. “This is a great way to raise awareness.”
Each year nearly 230,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer and almost 40,000 people die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.
For more information about the Liz Hurley Breast Cancer Fund, visit bit.ly/SudWRG. For more information about Tate Farms, visit TateFarmsPumpkins.com.