Getting down and dirty with naming

By Mark Skoultchi

July 23, 2008

Central coastal California is a heaven of fruits and vegetables in the summer. The Berkeley farmers’ markets showcase a kaleidoscope of luscious produce and a walk down the line will reveal some equally beautiful names. Many of the farm names have stories that are as organic as the vegetables, but they follow principles that are familiar to those of us at a professional naming firm.

Unique and memorable names for farms in California include: Full Belly Farm, Blossom Bluff Orchards, Gospel Flat Farm and Ella Bella Farm which all telegraph quality produce that is grown with great care. The recent local and organic movement has people thinking a lot more about where their food is grown and where it’s coming from. Distinct, creative farm names separate smaller farms from large-scale industrial agribusiness that probably doesn’t have a name in the supermarket. “People know us as the dirty girls – even Joe (the farmer) gets tagged as one although he bristles a little at that sometimes. They remember us,” says Sierra Schlesinger smiling easily while selling two pounds of shelling beans. The farm gets its name from the original owners; two women who tried to call it Fan Tan Farm in 1995. Local farmers nicknamed them the “dirty girls” and the name stuck.

Agriculture relies on brand naming just like any other business. Names make it easier to make a personal connection with the people who grow our food. Frog Hollow Farm’s yellow peaches are indescribably good in both texture and flavor. Flying Disc Ranch’s Aram will let you sample a few different varieties of fresh, soft dates that are more delectable than fine caramel. People remember company names and when the product is consistently good they develop fervent brand loyalty. Dirty Girl Produce’s Early Girl dry-farmed tomatoes have become legendary in the Bay Area and beyond. “Sometimes people don’t even bother to look at the signs,” says Dirty Girl worker Steve Wright, “but they know what they’re looking for and ask you: ‘Are these the Dirty Girl tomatoes?’”

Personally, I’m a sucker for a great name and a cute farm stand at the farmers’ market. The summertime farmers’ market seems a world away from strategic naming and marketing but the acute business sense of many farms is still apparent. The signs, staff and food itself are all dynamic advertisements for the farm. Everything is arranged with the intention of selling as much local food as possible working together to make an inviting and pleasant place to buy food.

Many of these farms with such appealing names are passionate about growing amazing food in an environmentally responsible way. For them, “organic” is much more than a brand name sticker to label their products. In the pared down marketing of agriculture a great farm name can speak volumes at the farmers’ market or in the produce aisle. Gospel Flat Farm (which is named after the four churches that once stood on the property) looks more like an enormous garden than an actual commercial farm. Food crops thrive next to rows of flowers and the Murch family regularly invites students from the nearby middle school to see sustainable agriculture in action. Part of what’s excellent these farm names are how they make you want to know more about the farms – and these small farms are enthusiastic about sharing.

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