This story was originally published in December 2020.
When you decide to buy a farm, perhaps the last thing on your mind is what you are going to name it. A farm name is important, though, not only to effectively run a farm business, but for helping your farm stand out.
“Your farm name is your first step in your branding of your products in order to distinguish them from those of your competitors,” said Tom Roberts, owner of Snakeroot Organic Farm in Pittsfield. “Your farm name is the visible signpost upon which you hang all of your accomplishments and customer relationships. You want that signpost to be highly visible, especially when starting up from scratch.”
Finding the right name for your farm helps to infuse it with a little bit of your own personality and personal story. Plus, it can be an effective marketing tool.
“Fail Better Farm [in Etna, for example,] begs the shopper to engage with the owner to ask how that name came about, and conversations, at least as much as sales, are important for any direct marketer,” Roberts said.
Here are some tips and guidelines you can follow as you think of the perfect name for your farm.
Call it by your name
One of the most obvious ways to name your farm is to use your surname.
“This works well and is done by many folks,” Roberts said. “If not named by you, then such a name will probably [be] applied to your farm by default.”
However, Roberts said there can be issues that arise when taking this traditional farm naming route, such as if two partners have the same last name, or if you have a common last name.
“Ever wonder where the Smith Farm is? ‘Which One?’ is the usual reply,” Roberts said. “The more rare a last name is, the better this way of farm naming works.”
Paradoxically, though, this naming convention may not work for surnames that are long and unwieldy. Greg Purinton-Brown, owner of Toddy Pond Farm in Monroe, experienced that first hand.
“If you’ve got a difficult-to-pronounce last name, that perhaps won’t be the best farm name,” he said.
The location of your farm or a local geographical landmark can lend itself to the farm’s name.
“[Such names] exude a groundedness in location,” Roberts said. “To those who are familiar with the location, it lets folks know how to find the farm.”
Purinton-Brown has found the approach helpful for Toddy Pond Farm, which is located on Toddy Pond. And Roberts named his farm after his street, which was especially helpful given the existing signage when he established his farm.
“Additional benefits accrued from the road name appearing on a sign on a bridge over I-95, and that local folks would all know where to find us,” Robert said.
Roberts did say to be careful to know exactly what the name means to everybody, though.
“Folks from Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri call us up asking if we are buying or selling snakeroot the herb,” Roberts said.
Mind your mission
If you have a specific idea for what you are going to produce on your farm, then you can make a name that reflects that.
“Fuzzy Udder Creamery and Imagine Dairy Farm are two goat farms whose owners have great imaginations,” Roberts said.
It doesn’t have to be specific to your product, though. Len Price, owner of Nutkin Knoll Farm in Newburgh, who was a teacher before he started farming, knew from the jump that he wanted his farm to have a teaching element. Naming his farm after Squirrel Nutkin from the Beatrix Potter stories gave him something to talk about with children visiting the farm.
“Ours is a little whimsical, a little bit unique and also with a lot of tradition attached to the lineage of Beatrix Potter [which has] a lot of good memories for people,” Price said. “We always make it a point with school tours to talk about Squirrel Nutkin’s place in the name of the farm and show a stuffed animal and show a big picture and story book.”
Purinton-Brown said it may be risky to tie a farm too close to any one specific thing because that might change over time.
“If there’s a possibility that your farm will move or what you farm will change [like if you] switch from vegetables to livestock, then consider a name that is more fluid or tied to yourself,” he recommended.
Learn your land’s history
The history of your farm might glean insights into a good farm name. If the land had been historically farmed, it may have had a name prior to you moving in that would help retain some of its legacy.
Or, the history might be a little more unconventional. Kristin Beauchamp, owner of Lone Spruce Farm in Dedham, said while removing the trees around the house, her family found a single spruce tree that was “tall and noble, pulled from all sides by invasive vines.”
“Carefully we released her, promised to steward her,” Beauchamp said. “We would later learn she was once the previous owner’s Christmas tree, planted some time in the 1980s. Now towering over even our home, she is a symbol of honoring the past while growing forward.”
Hence, her farm name: Lone Spruce Farm.
Unfortunately, the namesake “lone spruce” blew over in a windstorm this Christmas Day. Beauchamp said that the name — and the spirit behind it — will live on.
“If I could follow this loss with any sentiment, it would only be one that further highlights the value of your name [and] the energy you create behind it,” Beauchamp said. “That energy did not die with the tree. When the time and tree is right, a new spruce will occupy her space. For now, we have a legacy to honor.”
Make sure it is unique
Even if you think you have the perfect farm name, you should make sure that it is unique for logistical reasons. If two farms have similar names in the same area, customers may get confused as to which is which.
“It is always a good idea to check with a list of farm names known to the state [Department of Agriculture] in order to avoid using names that already exist,” Roberts said. “A Good Earth Farm, while a lovely name, exists both in Albion and in Bowdoinham.”
This can have legal repercussions, too. In 2015, a small Maine farm in Waldo County had to change its name from “Village Farm” (and even the later-updated “Freedom Village Farm”) after a legal dispute with the corporate Village Farms, one of the largest growers of greenhouse tomatoes in North America.
Dole wordplay out carefully
When it comes to naming your farm, puns can be tempting. However, they do not resonate with all potential clients or partners.
“I can’t stand farm names that are puns,” Purinton-Brown said. “Maybe I’m just a Grinch when it comes to that. I think the name should reflect the passion, sincerity and commitment that farming demands.”
Roberts said that there are a number of farm names that have struck a good balance of fun and memorable without being too cutesy or kitschy. Striking that right balance can also be a boon for marketing.
“Notta [Lotta] Farm [in Topsham], Waggin’ Tail Farm [in Pittsfield], Runamuk [Acres Conservation Farm in South Portland] and dozens of other names lie in the ‘cute’ category without getting too ‘out-there,’” Roberts said. “Most importantly, each of these real farms is likely to have a unique name, unused by any other farm in the region.”
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t think of a name right away, either.
“We probably spent three or four years [choosing a name, and] we got to a point where we really had to come up with a name,” Price said. “It was a long process. Put some thought to it, toss it around, try it out.”