Peggy Hansen: On The Naming of Farms

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Behind the name of every family farm is likely to be a story. Peggy Hansen has this Perspective.

Some are sentimental, honoring and recalling long gone times or people. Some are practical — geographic, succinct, descriptive. Some are aspirational, evoking something less than tangible, a romance of what could be, what might be, or what might be dreamed of. Some are quirky or involve a play on words, and some are philosophical, declaring an idea or ideal about that place or about the larger world.

In the sentimental group are farms like Molly's Orchard, named for a family cat who helped with pest control, and Aunt Zorada Farm, honoring a mentor who modeled hard work and giving back.

Practical names call out what the farm is known for, like Byrd's Pecans, or Dakota Garlic, or its place within the landscape, like Coyote Creek Farm, City Slicker Farms or Four Pines Farm. Family names, like Scott Family Farms, are in this group too.

Aspirational names like Clean Heart Farm, Earthkeeper Farm, Eden Farm and Harmony Farm conjure an ethos, intention or hope for bettering our collective future. These are often organic, no-till or biodynamic operations focused on sustainability and regenerative farming. There's a lot of overlap here with the philosophical category, and some religious overtones as well.

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Quirky names, like Blue Dragon Farm, Flying Pig Farm, Fluffy Butt Farms or Wrong Direction Farm, are the ones I like best. These names dare you to imagine how they came to be selected, and wonder about the stories behind the scenes.

Next time you're at a Farmers Market, ask a farmer how they chose their farm's moniker, especially if it's a quirky one. You'll likely get an entertaining tale about their first dog, their cranky old rooster or their Aunt Sally and her famous kitchen mishaps. Or maybe a discourse on their family heritage, and some delightful local history you never knew.

With a Perspective, I'm Peggy Hansen.

Peggy Hansen is an organic farmer and photographer in Santa Cruz.