Patterson Farm supplements tomatoes with repack, other vegetables

“We saw the writing on the wall,” Doug Patterson said.

It was 2005, and as growers of 350 acres of tomatoes, Patterson Farm — a partnership between Doug and Randall Patterson and their wives Michelle and Nora — was being buffeted by a changing marketplace. Input costs were increasing and tomato prices were going down, thanks largely to pressure from Mexican growers. A business that used to be profitable was souring. Something had to be done to save the farm operation.

The brothers were prepared to adapt in the face of adversity. They had the example of their grandfather, James A. Patterson, who experienced his own transformational challenges in the middle part of the 20th century.

James A. founded the family farm in Rowan County as a row-crop operation in 1919. Cotton was a major crop. When boll weevils became a problem, he had to do something different, so he started growing tomatoes. By the 1930s he was selling tomatoes in bushel baskets to A&P supermarkets. Growing tomatoes proved to be a good business, sustaining the family for decades.

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