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When is a Farm not a Farm?
It seems like everyone wants to call themselves a "farm" these days. Apparently, corporate marketers think that we will buy more packaged and processed food if the illusion is created that it is more closely connected to farming then is often actually the case. Television ads show actors pretending to be farmers skipping through cornfields while an announcer solemnly narrates with a string of buzz words about "old-fashioned values" and "small town folks" and how important the "earth's bounty" is to them.
The goal seems to be to create an "image" that is as far away from the reality of the company as possible. Folsky, nostalgic scenes of the "way life used to be" are everywhere.
Ironically the pastoral images and traditional lifestyles portrayed and represented by these companies are actually threatened by the forces of increased concentration of our food supply under the control of fewer and fewer corporate giants.
The recent success of Michigan tart cherry growers in reaching the retail market with fresh cherry products has attracted people who are not connected with farming here, but see an opportunity to cash in. Some of them are following the corporate lead and calling themselves this-or-that farms.
So we have companies with the name "Traverse Bay" to play on a connection with northern Michigan, although their office, telephone and computer are not actually near enough to Grand Traverse Bay to grow cherries. We have companies working out of rented suites in suburban office buidings calling themselves "something-farms" and creating an image of being involved in agriculture.
Of course to call yourself a "farm" you don't actually need to have a farm, it seems, and eliminating the actual farming part from your "farm" company certainly makes things a lot easier. Imagine the savings on property taxes alone. Just ask them this: "I'd like to come out and pick my own tart cherries this year" and see what they say. (By the way, you can pick your own tart cherries at our orchard.) Or, ask them how many trees they bought and planted this year.