Farm fresh ideas
Deborah Patterson's experience as a busy home cook and passionate gardener translates into developing products for her popular general store.
Even a cold drizzle of rain couldn’t dampen the joy of making s’mores around the warming fire pit that was in front of Patterson Family Farms General Store & Boutique. It was a Christmas Open House at the store, but I was here to meet Deborah Patterson who owns this small business in Wildwood, Missouri. Walking past the fire pit and winter greens potted in cheerful red, white, and black gingham containers, I found Deborah taking a break from the busy morning of shoppers while her husband—whom she refers to as Farmer Tim—helped at the cash register.
The store, which has been in business since 2018, expanded this summer when the Miller Haus coffee bar—a business with which they shared the current space —closed. Deborah has curated not only seasonal produce from their family farm, but Missouri-made food and gift items. There’s a case with meat, cheese, eggs, and more. Pantry items include commercial brands, as well as specialty items.
Like her original crop of pumpkins that quickly spread, her path to the general store grew after the family purchased a farm in 2011. Deborah seeing the farm was “love at first sight,” and she and her youngest son soon started a garden. They planted pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, and “a few other things,” and added variety each year. Deborah’s passion for gardening grew along with the vegetables. To follow that passion, as well as to take some time to re-evaluate her life, she resigned from her full-time job in commercial real estate.
Now Deborah says she’s on a mission to share her passion about growing and eating healthy food, as well as developing her business, with others.
With a family and the store to care for, Deborah still cooks at least six times a week. She learned to cook (with supervision) when she was 6 but started cooking for her family of five people every day when she was about 12 years old.
Deborah retains strong food memories of childhood, including enjoying her Mom’s pot roast with brown rice on Sunday after church and vegetable soup that was served every Friday during winter.
“We all did sports and Mom would make it (soup) so it would be there when we needed it,” she said.
With family roots in southern Missouri and Texas, she also grew up eating chalupa, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread.
As a busy mom and business owner, Deborah knows home cooks have big responsibilities. “There can be a challenge with time for any career mom/wife, so I would say time would be my biggest issue.”
But she has a solution for that: Patterson Family Farms meal kits. Neatly arranged colorful paper gift bags are labeled with ingredients needed to cook a from-scratch dinner, like Shrimp and Spinach Orzo Pasta (check out the recipe below), soup (such as hearty vegetable), dessert (s’mores), or appetizer (Deborah’s homemade crab dip). Customers select a meal kit bag, shop for ingredients, and take home a meal to prepare in a snap. (This isn’t a sponsored story, but seriously, what a brilliant marketing idea.)
There also are Thompson Farms dry soup mixes that are great for a busy home cook to have on hand. I recently made the Santa Fe tortilla soup, and it was delicious. It made a huge pot (I froze most of it). Three more varieties are waiting in my pantry at home.
Home cooks have the tasks of “pleasing a number of different palettes, keeping to a budget, and getting dinner to the table quickly,” Deborah says. It would appear this experienced cook has figured out how to accomplish those tasks, and she’s happy to share her inspiration with customers.