Descendants of Gen. George S. Patton Jr. gathered around a kitchen table in August of 2017 to discuss the future of the family’s organic farm located in Hamilton.
Joanne Patton, the family’s matriarch, orchestrated the meeting after her husband, Major General George Patton IV died in 2004, and she could no longer on her own continue his legacy — an organic farm called Green Meadows.
Then grandchildren of the four-star general suggested combining the family’s two legacies: the military and organic farming.
Except rather than cultivating fruits and vegetables, the Pattons could harvest cannabis to further benefit veterans.
“My mom wasn’t there that day, but she was initially skeptical,” Bob Patton said. “Her first words were ‘Over my dead body.’”
A year later Joanne Patton became one of the most ardent supports for the birth of the cannabis company. Four years after a conversation around the family table, the Pattons are set to debut Green Meadows in Southbridge as a medical dispensary and wholesale cultivation supplier of organic cannabis.
“I’m of an older generation and some peers were not pleased,” Patton said. “I respect the other side. But all I can do is do this correctly. All we can do as a family is do it correctly.”
Green Meadows opened as a dispensary in Southbridge on Feb. 28. On the cultivation end, it launched its first organic flower in November, with the rollout of two strains, Larry Lovestein and Double Chocolate.
Last week, Green Meadows began its wholesale distribution. The brand expects to open as a medical dispensary by the end of the year. Green Meadows also plans to open a second dispensary in Fitchburg.
While medicinal marijuana sparked the family’s interest, the process took far longer to open under state guidelines than adult use.
Each person who walks into the brick mill-style building in Southbridge, which was formerly the original home to Ames Department store, is greeted with the Green Meadows farm sign that once sat on the family’s property in Hamilton.
While Bob Patton is Chairman of the cannabis company, family surrounds him. His son Rob Patton is CMO, his stepson Chris Zawacki is CEO, and stepson Tom Zawacki is a financial advisor and part-owner.
Photos of the famed WWII general line the vestibule inside the cannabis company. Photos of Bob’s father and artwork from his brother also appear inside the retail portion of the dispensary.
“We’ve maintained within our little group and the company, the family ethic,” Bob Patton said. “It’s still here.”
The product pays homage to Bob’s father, George Patton IV. Green Meadows researched and invested in ways to produce organic cannabis.
Tubes and hoses run from an inconspicuous room in the cultivation center above the hallways and grow rooms and sprout up around the plants to provide a specific organic mixture to help the cannabis grow.
In some of the rooms, tiny bags of bugs hang on the plants. If for some reason pesticide is needed, the bag is cut open and the bugs naturally act as a way to remove the infestation.
“The Patton family name is great,” Rob Patton said. “But we’re also developing high-quality cannabis.”
At first, outside companies inquired about using the Patton name to sell and distribute cannabis.
“That would have been easier,” Patton said. “But once we looked at it, I couldn’t cut loose my father’s legacy and my grandfather’s legacy in the care of someone else. We said we’d take on the work.”
In November of 2017, some family members traveled to Las Vegas for a national cannabis conference. They departed Nevada with a business model to pursue.
“That’s when we really saw how legitimate the industry was on a national level,” Chris Zawacki said. “We educated ourselves. We understood more about the medicinal application of it and its impact on our veterans.”
The Patton family works with several non-profit organizations as well. Through that work, the family heard many anecdotal stories about the positive impact cannabis has had for veterans in terms of PTSD or even pain.
When the medical dispensary opens, veterans can purchase the products at 30% every day and 40% discounts on the 11th and 22nd of each month. The 11th represents Veterans Day. The 22nd is to bring awareness to the 22 veterans that die by suicide each day, Patton said.
“That number, unfortunately, has since increased to 37 a day,” Patton said. “It’s just whatever we can do as an organization, as a family to continue to serve that underserved population is what we’re going to do.”
Green Meadows landed in Southbridge after the town overwhelmed the family with support.
“Originally, [Southbridge] was going to be retail and we were going to grow in Hamilton,” Bob Patton said. “But Southbridge was so welcoming.”
Bob Patton makes it clear that neither he nor his sons are veterans, but they understand the sacrifice military families make and the effects combat can have on individuals who return home.
He’s often asked how he thinks his grandfather or father would react to the family diving entirely into the cannabis industry.
Patton was confronted by similar skepticism from a city official in Southbridge, David Adams. Adams is a retired Sergeant Major in the U.S. Marine Corps. He connected with Patton, despite his hesitancy.
“Now he’s one of our dearest friends,” Patton said. “He said, ‘I can see what it can do for a community in a positive way.’”
Patton acknowledges that his grandfather and father may have felt even more strongly against cannabis.
But he’s quick to point out, the two men were far from close-minded.
“They were men who were daring. They thought outside the box professionally and they cared about troops,” Patton said. “If there was a benefit to troops, that would be at the top of the list.”
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