What's in a name?
Shakespeare’s Juliet tells us “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, maybe as a farmer we could substitute a vegetable for ‘rose’ and taste for ‘smell’ to express the same thoughts towards our garden. But a farm name is different. A farm name is the identity of the Farmer. It expresses more than the vegetables he/she grows, the location of the farm or even their farm practices; It tells a story.
When I get asked about our farm name: Grand Trunk Veggies, I always get excited. The name for me is an important piece of what I am doing. Grand Trunk is not to be confused with Grand Funk Railway or Grand Trunk Railway–though there is a train track link. Grand Trunk was a stop on one of Historic Calgary’s streetcar route.
The name of our neighbourhood, West Hillhurst, was formerly called Grand Trunk. Grand Trunk had been a poorer community compared to its Hillhurst counterpart. Because of the image associated with ‘Grand Trunk’, community members identified with Hillhurst to avoid the stigma of living in a ‘poor’ community. Eventually the city caught on to the trend, expanded the borders of Hillhurst and named Grand Trunk, West Hillhurst.
When I heard this story from a neighbour, I immediately knew what I wanted to call the farm. I was keen to entwine Grand Trunk’s history in the business name to recall a history paved over. In true political fashion, renaming something does not change its reality. The residents of the new 'West Hillhurst' were not immediately bestowed with wealth. That took time. Eventually however, West Hillhurst did become an affluent community.
Grand Trunk in West Hillhurst
While I’m glad that our community could prosper and develop, I also have a sense that something was lost. I believe that within the Grand Trunk history lies a connection to the land, and therefore a connection to our food. Historically it was the norm to maintain a healthy sized garden in Calgary, but today many Calgarians maintain a strict attitude that food production in Calgary (and the Prairies in general) is an impossibility. Food comes from Safeway, and is grown in warm climes.
Grand Trunk Veggies wants to undo that myth. Grand Trunk invites residents back to space where food can and is grown in Calgary! It is meant to be a playful but constructive showcase of a neighbourhood's potential. Because let’s be honest, North America has over 40 Million acres of lawn: that's 4 times more land than corn and 10 times more land than fruit orchards. It's insane! Given the resources spent irrigating lawns and the potential to grow food in the city, I think it's possible to re-imagined our lawns and turn that space into a powerful tool!