FITCHBURG — When U.S. Army Maj. Gen. George Patton IV retired to his father’s Hamilton, Massachusetts homestead, Green Meadows, back in 1980, he set out to provide the community with local-grown, organic-certified, traditional produce.
George Patton IV dedicated himself and the land’s farmable acres to sustainable agriculture. While he, unfortunately, died in 2004, his descendants have continued that tradition and carried the Green Meadows mantle into an emerging industry: cannabis.
Led by Chairman Bob Patton, son of George Patton IV and grandson of the famed U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton Jr., the Green Meadows family jumped headfirst into the ever-evolving world of medicinal and recreational cannabis. Met with major success at their first location in Southbridge, the cannabis outfit opened up shop in Fitchburg after a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 12.
And with their product, said Bob Patton’s stepson and Green Meadows CEO Chris Zawacki, Green Meadows’ mission is to improve the life of each and every customer, whether their purchase is recreational or medicinal.
“We want to help people, that’s our mission and it has driven us every day,” Zawacki said. “We’re not doctors, we don’t claim to be, but to be able to provide some efficacy for an ailment to somebody and to see that make a positive change in their daily life, it’s really rewarding.”
“To be able to make that difference, it’s a really cool thing. And we’re happy with our progress so far, but we’re just getting started,” he said.
What began as a horse farm on the North Shore was purchased and dubbed Green Meadows by George S. Patton Jr. in 1928. From then until 2012, when the land was placed under Hamilton’s stewardship and leased to local farmers, the Patton family had a hand in the growth and sale of produce.
In 2017, a year after the establishment of the Cannabis Control Commission, Bob Patton and the rest of the family saw the potential of medicinal cannabis as an aid for PTSD symptoms experienced by veterans and, later, for other ailments such as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. They planned to use the land to grow and sell organic, medicinal-grade cannabis around the state.
While that plan was scrapped for a number of reasons, and in spite of the fact that there was far more to the process than they anticipated, Bob Patton refused to give up on his and Green Meadows’ mission to help others.
“The original plan was that we would grow organic, medicinal cannabis at the original Green Meadows farm,” Bob Patton said. “Ultimately, it didn’t happen, but that didn’t stop us.”
“In Massachusetts, according to the [Cannabis Control Commission], if you’re going to be a medical grower and provider of cannabis product, you also have to have at least one dispensary. So, suddenly, we were in the dispensary business, which was even more uncharted territory for us,” he said.
After a lot of learning and a lengthy search process, the group settled on Southbridge as the site of their first dispensary, which opened in February 2021 for recreational and, later, medicinal sales. Bob Patton and Zawacki said the fact that they “felt wanted by the community” had a major impact on their decision.
“We saw Southbridge as somewhere we could really make a difference,” Zawacki said. “And they more than welcomed us, which made it an even easier decision for us early on.”
Business boomed and, with expansion in mind, the search for a second location began. Bob Patton and Zawacki said Fitchburg presented the same qualities that made Southbridge an attractive location and, while they are only open for recreational sales [a medicinal license is expected for the location in the near future], they expect similar success.
“Nothing is easy, but the process with the city was fairly smooth,” Bob Patton said. “Fitchburg, it sort of came to us and, as we looked around, the more we saw, the better we felt about it.”
“From the beginning, there was a sense of collaboration, and that really has characterized all of the experiences that we’ve had here so far,” he said.
“Fitchburg was a different animal than Southbridge because there were already some operators in the area,” Zawacki said. “So we knew it was going to be a different approach for us, but we still saw it as a community in which we could do a lot of good, where we could come and make a difference.”
While the location just opened, the business has already put in some serious work to pave the way for that success: Zawacki said he has been in contact with other local businesses and charitable organizations about opportunities to collaborate. Bob Patton said his “goal” was to be “super-engaged” with customers and the community at large on both a business and personal level.
“Everybody knows us and we know everybody down there — and I want to see the same thing here in Fitchburg,” he said. “We want mutual engagement, a back and forth, with our consumers: what do they know about cannabis? What don’t they know? What do we and don’t we know?”
“If you can get that, if you find that engagement within the community, you’ve got something very good.”
Until they see that success, however, Zawacki made it clear that they plan to serve the Fitchburg community to the best of their ability.
“We hope that people come here and it’s just a different experience for them,” Zawacki said. “Based on what our mission is and our goals as a company, we want to both serve them and change their lives for the better in whatever way that means for each individual.”
“Ultimately, we’re here to serve our customers’ needs first. We want to know what drives them, why they use the products they do and how can best serve them — and we’ll do our best to provide,” he said.
And, when asked why any customer should choose their location over another in the area, Bob Patton said, at Green Meadows, customers are “participating in our story.”
“Why [Green Meadows]? It’s the product, it’s the service and the story,” Patton said. “We care about what we do here and the organic products are a part of that but, when customers come in, we hope they know that they’re participating in our story.”
“We are a family-owned business, we’re not a multistate operator with deep pockets. So, however successful we may become, our origins are always going to be a part of us and we want people to participate in that story,” he said.