A Family That Loves to Farm
We’ve all heard the saying, “love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, we aren’t totally sure about that, but it certainly helps when you have a passion for what you’re doing. Like many professions, farming has its share of challenges. We work day in and day out to provide healthy produce, educational field trips, a place for memories to be made on the farm, and more. In our busy seasons, we work 7 days a week from sunup to sundown. We certainly wouldn’t be here today if we didn’t love to farm.
Members of our family have been farming since 1919, when James A. Patterson started growing vegetables, including tomatoes, under the name James A. Patterson & Sons. One of these sons was Carl Patterson, who married his sweetheart Phyllis Graham. Her father was in the dairy business, and if you visit our barn animals or sit in on a field trip now, you’ll be walking through what was once the original dairy farm and milking parlor.
Although our farm has changed and adapted over the years, it is still owned and operated by the members of our family. Randall and Doug Patterson are sons of Carl and Phyllis, and both work on the farm today with their wives and kids. Randall Patterson is primarily responsible for all of the field operations on the farm. His wife, Nora, was once a nurse and now assists in the office, handles insurance, safety training, compliance and workers’ compensation for the farm. They have two children, Madisyn and Taylor. Taylor Patterson came back to the farm in 2015 after graduating from NC State to become the 6th generation on our farm. Madisyn is pursuing her Masters in Occupational Therapy but can often be found helping at the Market on weekends.
Doug Patterson is responsible for overseeing the office, sales, food safety, and packing house operations. His wife, Michelle, is responsible for marketing, overseeing Patterson Farm Market & Tours, Inc., educational tours and events. Doug and Michelle have 3 daughters: (twins) Claudia and Victoria, and Chloe. The girls also come back and help at the farm when they can.
For our family, farming is not only a tradition but also a way of life. This land has been in our family for over 100 years, and our goal is to preserve it and share our heritage with others. It isn’t easy to work with your family. Can you imagine running a stressful business with your wife, siblings, and children? However, the love that we have for each other, the passion we have for agriculture, and our faith are what keeps us grounded during difficult times.
For me, I haven’t always loved to farm. There was a time in my life that I resented getting up early to feed the animals and working the strawberry patch after school (hello, teenage years!). However, with time I have begun to appreciate my family’s way of life. I now work closely with not only my family, but also other farmers, and I have to admit that they are some of the most kind, genuine people I’ve ever met.
I consider myself blessed to have grown up with skinned knees and dirt under my nails, playing outside and riding my bike around the farm. Some of my fondest memories are of riding around the farm with my dad in his old farm truck, singing country songs with the windows down. Not to mention the lessons learned about life and death from caring for farm animals, as well as transferable skills such as working a cash register, leading tours, shipping tomato trucks and learning customer service skills. Farm kids truly are hardworking, innovative, and responsible.
So, yeah, there once was a time that I thought my parents were crazy for what we do. Who willingly works sunrise to sunset, with no guarantee that the weather will cooperate, and allows the public to come into your backyard? It can feel like we are fighting a losing battle with agriculture sometimes, but now, every time I come home, I drive down our road and my heart swells at the sight of home and the scent of fresh, country air. I guess we truly are a family that loves to farm.
You can learn more about our family and the history of our farm at https://www.visitpattersonfarm.com/about-patterson-farm-market-tours/.