The People of Sassafras Valley Farm

Sassafras Valley Farm is comprised of four main characters: Patty, Bob, Chris, and Connie


Patty Cunningham: Our Mom

Passed away July 6, 2011 at the age of 87 at the farm with her family beside her. 

Raised with one foot in the city and one foot in the countryside, she brings a unique “urban-yet-rural” sensibility to the business of raising our geese.

She spent her early summers roaming the 600 acre family farm in Phelps County. There, she developed a love of nature along with a deep connection to working the land, which she passed on to her three children.

Winters were spent in Webster Groves, where she and her 3 siblings attended school. Having been raised by a father who taught engineering and a musician mother, she was allowed to explore her own many talents and passions. She was in turn, a musician; playing tuba in an “all girl jazz band”, a nursing student, a laboratory assistant on the Manhattan Project developing the atomic bomb, a successful and well respected artist as well as a mother to three children.


Oldest and only son of Patty. He is an organic chemist and has a wife and 2 grown girls. After years of buying geese for the holiday meals he came up with the idea of raising them here at the farm. But he lives a busy life traveling full time for his work. Somehow, he convinced me it was a good idea. So apparently he is also a good salesman.

For Christmas he gave me a real shepherd's crook. Something I never thought I would want until I had to round up the geese for transport this fall. Well, think about it. How would you catch a 20lb, flapping, honking, biting goose?



Middle daughter who has a husband, grown son and daughter. Having worked together throughout our childhood, she's easy to work with. Chris tends to go along with just about any construction idea I come up with for the farm, jumping into the thick of it and doing the math for me. She gifted me with a set of cordless drill and circular saw. I loved it. Best invention since a Shepherd's crook. 


I don’t know why I torment her with a sink full of dirty dishes whenever she comes to visit, but it might have something to dowith her tormenting me with boxes of books stored here.



The youngest and the one living at the farm with the geese and Patty. My current life is all about putting the farm into production (in order for it to at least pay for itself) and caring for the mom- while simultaneously trying to figure out how to keep being a landscape designer. I have no idea what to say about all this.......but I believe in what I'm doing here and have strong convictions about the animals and land.Every now and then I talk myself off a ledge and try to remember that people rarely ever get to have this much of an adventure in their life time. So, I have to relax and have fun with it all.