E.P. “Peter” Garrett
E. P. (Peter) Garrett, who is considered by many to be the father of the Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC), was born March 16, 1898 in Limestone County at Belle Mina, Alabama. He graduated in 1919 and returned to his home in North Alabama to farm.
Garrett served as general manager of the AFC from its early years until his retirement in 1968. Under his leadership, the cooperative grew and greatly increased its service to Alabama farmers and consumers.
The AFC began in Decatur, Alabama, in 1936 when a group of local county cooperatives joined forces and developed a modest plant in Decatur to provide area farmers fairly-priced fertilizer. By the late 1940s, with Garrett helping lead the organization, the cooperative was also engaged in the cleaning and processing of seeds and the manufacturing of feed. In 1947, the cooperative was named the Tennessee Valley Fertilizer Cooperative (TVFC). In the late 1950s, TVFC joined National Cooperatives to have a source of additional farm supplies, and in 1960, the TVFC acquired Farmers Marketing and Exchange stores. In 1961, the cooperative’s name was officially changed to AFC, Inc.
The cooperative movement continued to diversify, benefitting both farmers and the public. AFC next added a merchandising function to its operations and additional cooperative stores were opened to give farmers access to literally thousands of much-needed items. Co-op customers could now buy gardening items, automotive products, hardware and other home needs at their stores. AFC is now a $300 million company that serves more than 80 member cooperative stores throughout Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
In addition to his work with the AFC, Garrett also was instrumental in starting the South Limestone Gin, one of the most modern gins in North Alabama. He also helped start the Limestone Farmers Cooperative, he was on the Board of Directors for the Federal Land Bank, Production Credit Association, Farm Credit Board of Jackson, Jackson Bank for Cooperatives, Farm Credit Bank of New Orleans and the Mississippi Chemical Corporation.
Garrett and his two sons farmed about 1,200 acres where they produced corn, cotton, soybeans, and beef cattle. Though Garrett died in 1978, their family’s farming legacy continues under the leadership of Garrett’s sons and grandsons.