Known to induce smiles and feelings of overwhelming happiness, sunflowers have been cultivated in the Americas since at least 1,000 B.C. They are also good for your physical wellbeing, as the seeds are a source of vitamins A, B and E, as well as protein, iron, calcium and nitrogen.
Sunflowers were also the favorite subject of one of the world’s most-revered artists, Vincent van Gogh, who admired them for their color and unrefined appearance. For one of his projects, van Gogh planned to complete a series of 12 sunflower paintings for his home in Arles, France. However, he only managed to produce five in the series, one of which – Vase with Twelve Sunflowers – can be seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. According to the Van Gogh Museum’s website, people who attended his funeral arrived with sunflowers in hand in honor of the artist.
Sunflowers have become the focus of several late-summer festivals in Lancaster County.
Verdant View Farm Sunflower Days
August 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27
Visitors to this fourth-generation farm will be greeted by fields that are aglow with 50,000 sunflowers. Craft beer and wine will be available evenings. Casual photography permitted. Professionals can reserve times for styled shoots/portraits. Tickets must be purchased online. Admission includes a cut sunflower stem to take home. Sunflowers are also available for purchase.
429 Strasburg Rd., Paradise. Verdantview.com.
Country Barn Sunflower Festival
August 20, 21, 27, 28 and September 3-5
Come to this 82-acre farm in Manor Township, where admission includes access to a field of sunflowers, a cut sunflower to take home, wagon tours, live music, the corn maze, pig races and more. Grandview Vineyards will be onsite for wine tastings. Sunflowers are available for purchase.
211 Donerville Rd., Lancaster. Countrybarnmarket.com.
Cherry Crest Adventure Farm Sunflower Festival
August 20, 27 and September 3
Admission to this family-owned farm that boasts America’s favorite corn maze (per readers of USA Today), includes the Sunflower Festival. Fields of sunflowers and zinnias complement this year’s maze, the theme of which is National Parks: Celebrating America’s Beauty. (This year marks 150 years since the first national park, Yellowstone, opened.) A winery and two breweries will be on hand this year. The event also features mini photo sessions, live music, vendors, children’s activities, farm-related activities and more.
150 Cherry Hill Rd., Ronks. Cherrycrestfarm.com.
Oregon Dairy Sunflower Pickin’ Days
September 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25
A two-acre field filled with 23 varieties of sunflowers and zinnias greets visitors, who are welcome to take photos. Special sessions for professional photographers are available. Admission also includes access to the corn maze, rides and farm activities. Flowers are available for purchase.
1259 Creek Rd., Lititz. Oregondairy.com.
Reading, Writing & Sunflowers
Mid- to late-August
Wheatland Middle School in Lancaster is home to a learning garden that has evolved from an expanse of weeds to a plot that blooms with 1,000-plus sunflowers. Students – notably members of the Garden Club and special-education classes – parents and supporters gathered at the plot on May 14 to plant thousands of seeds that were harvested and dried from last year’s crop, which included 10 varieties of sunflowers.
When the sunflowers bloom, the garden will be open to the public. Purchases will benefit ongoing projects in the the garden. School District of Lancaster teacher and learning garden adviser Kevin Ghaffari expects the sunflowers will bloom “in late August, when students are returning, as we planted two weeks later than last year.”
It appears the project has a “sunny” future. “We will continue to plant a sunflower garden annually and provide students with an outdoor learning environment,” Kevin noted via email. “We are developing the garden space as an outdoor classroom and this year we added a watermelon and pumpkin drip-irrigation garden. We are also working on a walking path that will come in the late summer/fall.”
919 Hamilton Park Dr., Lancaster. Facebook.com/wheatlandmonthlyroar.