The Patterson Family has been in the produce business since James A. Patterson began growing vegetables in 1919. By 1941, James’ crop consisted of about 30 acres of cotton and three acres of tomatoes. Boll weevils damaged most of his cotton crop that year so James decided to grow all 30 acres in tomatoes the following year. In 1946, the family began growing tomatoes commercially under the name, James A. Patterson & Sons.
James and his wife, Berta Catherine Cauble, had 5 children, Betty Lou, Frank, Carl, Ann and Nancy. Sons Frank and Carl decided to continue the family business after each graduated from NC State and served in the Army.
On August 17, 1957, Carl married his sweetheart, Phyllis A. Graham. Her father, Harold Graham, along with his 12 siblings were involved in the dairy business. The current Patterson Farm Market & Tours location is on part of the original Harold Graham dairy farm.
Carl and Frank farmed together until they decided to divide the farm in 1979. Carl and Phyllis formed Patterson Produce and Plant Farm. They raised tomatoes, strawberries, corn watermelons and cantaloupes as well as four children; Lisa, Randall, Douglas and Michael.
In 1982, son Randall returned to help the family farm after graduating from NC State with a degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering. He helped implement on the farm the new procedures developed by NC State called “Plastic Culture” which involves growing crops on raised beds using drip irrigation with black plastic. Randall is primarily responsible for all field operations on the farm.
In 1992, the farm incorporated and became Patterson Farm, Inc.
In 1994, son Douglas and his wife, Michelle, decided to move back to the farm to help with the family business. Doug graduated in 1987 from NC State with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and had worked for 6 years in this field. Doug is responsible for overseeing the office, sales, food safety and packing house operations. Michelle is responsible for marketing, overseeing Patterson Farm Market & Tours, Inc, Patterson Market Granite Quarry, and educational tours and events. Doug and Michelle have 3 daughters, twins Claudia and Victoria, and Chloe.
In 1999, Randall’s wife, Nora, gave up her nursing career to help the family business. Nora assists in the office, handles insurance, safety training, compliance and workers compensation for the farm. Randall and Nora have two children, a son Taylor and a daughter Madisyn. Madisyn is currently attending UNC Wilmington. In 2015 Taylor graduated from NC State with a degree in Plant and Soil Science with a concentration in Crop Production and began working on the farm to become our fourth generation to farm. Taylor is our Sustainable Agriculture Operations Manager.
Carl and Phyllis officially retired in 1999 turning the farm operation over to Doug and Randall. They enjoyed staying active in their church and could often be found at the lake. Sadly, Carl passed away on June 11, 2004. Daughter Lisa and her family live in Davidson, NC. Son Michael and his family currently live in Maryland.
Currently, Patterson Farm, Inc. grows over 200 acres of tomatoes including mature green, vine ripe, grape and roma tomatoes. In addition to growing tomatoes, we grade, pack and ship our tomatoes across the United States and Canada. Patterson Farm, Inc. is currently one of the largest tomato growers in the state of North Carolina. Our tomatoes are also sold at our markets on Caldwell Road and in Granite Quarry.
Patterson Farm, Inc. also grows about 45 acres of strawberries each year. Primarily, our strawberries are sold at local grocery stores, produce and farmer’s markets, our roadside satellite locations and our market and pick your own strawberry field on Caldwell Road. Our strawberry season typically last from late April until early June. During the month of May we offer school tours that teach how we grow strawberries. We also offer many weekend events during the month of May that provide fun and entertainment for the entire family. Other produce grown by Patterson Farm Inc. includes squash, cucumbers, peppers, cantaloupes and corn.
The farm will also grow over 120 acres of peppers in 2016. Many of the peppers are grown under contract for specific companies.
We also grow about 15,000 poinsettias each year that are available at our greenhouses on Millbridge Road. Most of our poinsettias are sold to local churches and businesses. Poinsettias are also beautiful gifts
In 2003, Patterson Farm added a Farm Market at our pick your own fields on Caldwell Road. The market is open from April until mid-November. Hours vary by season. The market offers our seasonal produce as well as other local seasonal produce. In addition, the market has jams and jellies, dressings, salsas, unique gift items and baskets, and hand-dipped ice cream. We offer educational field trips, camps and events from late March through mid-November to teach people of all ages about the importance of farms and where their food comes from.
In 2007, Patterson Farm, Inc. transformed key areas into separate divisions; Patterson Farm Repack, Inc. and Patterson Farm Market & Tours, Inc. Although we have the divisions, we all work together as a team for the growth and success of the farm.
Throughout its history, Patterson Farm, Inc. has adapted to keep up with technology and the ever-changing consumer demands to keep it a viable farming operation. In a day that we see many family farms having to sell out, we are more determined than ever to insure the future of Patterson Farm, Inc. and its 300+ employees (during peak season).