Thomas and Melissa Ellis, of Triple E Farm and Priester’s Pecans Inc., were recognized as Alabama’s 2020 Farm of Distinction by the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Farm-City Committee.
Triple E Farm began in 1981 when Thomas Ellis purchased part of a commercial beef herd from the widow of a cattleman. Two years later, he and his wife, Melissa, built their first poultry houses. Today, the operation spans 1,000 acres and includes a 50-cow beef herd, 1,000 head of stocker cattle, and three poultry houses producing 400,000 chickens a year.
“We consider ourselves an agricultural family from the word ‘go,’” Thomas Ellis says. “We’re looking forward to having the fifth generation come along and be involved in the business, but right now, we’re really enjoying seeing our sons and daughters-in-law involved in the business.”
The couple also owns Priester’s Pecans, where more than 1.5 million pounds of nuts are cracked, shelled and processed, many of which are turned into candy, baked goods and snacks. Their items are sold through retail stores, their website and wholesale agreements.
The Ellises received more than $15,000 in prizes and will represent Alabama in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in October. The prizes included a John Deere Gator from AgPro, SunSouth and TriGreen dealers; a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative; and engraved farm sign from Alfa Insurance; and $2,500 as the state’s representative at the Sunbelt Ag Expo.
Coming in as runner-up were Andy and Karen Williams of Circle W Farms in Henry County.
“Alabama is blessed with exceptional farmers,” says Alabama Farm-City Committee Chairman Jeff Helms. “The Ellis and Williams families are the cream of the crop. They are salt-of-the-earth people who have built successful businesses, which allow them to give back to their communities through leadership, economic development and conservation of natural resources.”