Spirit of Rowan 2022: Adding ice cream was a sweet treat for Patterson Farm

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

MOUNT ULLA — Folks at Patterson Farm were busy over the winter getting ready for this year’s growing season and regular crowds getting back to take advantage of all they have to offer.

Michelle Patterson, the farm’s director of fun and market and tour organizer, said some of the adaptations during the pandemic like offering a curbside pickup option will likely continue and the time ticketing requirement for picking your own strawberries will also be in effect.

“We’ve learned it enhances the experience, so it’s not so crowded,” she said.

Reservations can be made online at visitpattersonfarm.com, where you can also check the timing of what’s being grown. She says they’ll know about 30 days out when the season will start, all according to Mother Nature’s way of telling you when the time is right.

One of the biggest draws was when they started making ice cream to sell at the market, which opens April 1 on Caldwell Road.

Randall Patterson is president and director of field operations for Patterson Farm. With 70 acres dedicated to three varieties of strawberries, it is one of the largest such farms in the state. During growing season, which stretches from mid-April until mid-June, the farm expects to harvest roughly 1.4 million pounds of fruit from approximately that many strawberry plants. Tomatoes have long been the farm’s most prevalent crop, but the gap shrunk in recent years as both bell peppers and strawberries made up ground.

When speaking with Michelle Patterson in mid-February, they were busy with seeding peppers. The farm also grows sweet corn and pumpkins.

Besides attending conferences over the winter months, Michelle said the farm operation depends on things like Reemay to keep plants blanketed from the cold before warmer weather arrives and the growing season kicks into high gear.

Douglas Patterson, vice president of Patterson Farm, offers the best advice for recently picked strawberries is to refrigerate them immediately so they’ll stay fresh longer. Of course, the quicker they’re eaten after being picked, the better, he said.

The Patterson family has been farming for over 125 years and members held a celebration of their history at the site of the original James A. Patterson Farm on Patterson Road in 2019. 

Patterson Farms has become one of 65 farms, restaurants, wineries and breweries from Rowan County listed on the Visit NC Farms app, which was developed by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2020 as a way to connect local vendors with consumers.