The history of the commune dates back to the 12th century with the first historical records mentioning Lusowo, which today is a small settlement inhabited by fewer than 1.5 thousand people. A gothic church was built in Tarnowo in the mid-15th century. It was not until 1920 that the term “Podgórne” was added to the name of Tarnowo in the process of restoring Polish names of towns and cities – in the Prussian partition the German name Schlehen was used. For centuries, the development of these lands was connected with agriculture (even in 1938, out of 17 richest residents of the commune, only four were not farmers: a doctor, a priest, a baker and a butcher). The 19th century brought a gradual influx of German settlers. In 1901, the German community erected a commune building, an Evangelical church and a school. Some years later a post office, a pharmacy, houses for a doctor and a vet were built. Germans organized a savings and credit union as well as agricultural, food and service cooperatives. Tarnowo became a model Prussian colonization village.

Since the mid-1990s, Tarnowo Podgórne has been perceived as a commune of success. This is evidenced by numerous awards and high positions in the rankings presented to the commune and persons associated with it, particularly since the end of the 1990s, however it is worth noting that already in 1979 Tarnowo won the nation-wide competition “Commune – Champion of Economy” [Gmina – Mistrz Gospodarności].

The commune made good use of the opportunity related to the resurgence of self-government and political changes after 1989. Waldy Dzikowski was a key figure in its development in the 1990s. He served as the commune head from 1990 to 2001. Afterwards, he became a Member of Parliament representing the Civic Platform (he was elected to the Sejm for the next six terms of office). Dzikowski is perceived as a model example of a local leader. To this day, local government officials and residents of the commune refer to this figure.
For thirty years, the number of residents of the commune has been constantly increasing. In 2013, it was inhabited by 22.5 thousand people (9 thousand more than in 1993).

The main location of the commune is the village of Tarnowo Podgórne where the commune office and the most important institutions are located. At the same time, in terms of population, it is second to Przeźmierowo located in the eastern part of the commune, right on the border with Poznań. In 2013, Tarnowo was inhabited by approximately 4.9 thousand whereas 6.2 thousand resided in Przeźmierowo. Despite a significant growth in the number of residents in both locations, the proportion between them has remained at a similar level since the early 1990s.