story by ELIZABETH GRANGER
For decades Hoosiers have picked fruits and vegetables at local farms. In recent years, U-Pick flowers, too. The sunflower’s popularity is soaring. And in recent months, the world has learned that the sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine.
In Indiana, there are two sunflower seasons. Typically the flower blooms in July, but some farmers delay planting so theirs bloom around Labor Day.
Spencer Farm in Noblesville began as a U-Pick strawberry farm 40 years ago. Then came additional fruits and vegetables. Three years ago they planted sunflowers; they’ll be blooming in July. “Our customers are constantly wanting new things,” said Kyle Spencer. “So we decided to add a little more to our U-Pick season.”
Conner Prairie in Fishers has sunflowers. They’re especially popular for weddings. It’s here you’ll discover a field of beauty with more than three acres to explore. Enjoy thousands of blooms as you walk through path and find the perfect photo opportunities.
In Lafayette, Exploration Acres grows 24 varieties and invites guests to walk four miles of sprawling paths through a maze. Wea Creek Orchard, also in Lafayette, will host its Sunflower Festival July 29-31.
Stuckey Farm near Sheridan plants sunflowers late – on purpose – so they bloom in early September. Thus their Labor Day festival Sept. 2-5 and Sept. 9-11. Stuckey’s Jordan Pierce says the idea for sunflowers came during a visit to farms along the East Coast. “We definitely need to bring that to Indiana,” he said at the time. He says Stuckey was one of the first farms
to do a sunflower festival in Indiana. Visitor reaction was “insane.” “We had no idea so many people would be so interested.”
There are now 28 varieties of sunflowers ranging from the small (2 feet tall) Teddy Bear to the big (15 feet tall) Mammoth and Skyscraper. This year a Tiny Town is being created in the Teddy Bear section. Stuckey’s is teaming up with the county’s tourism bureau to encourage local businesses to add their tiny buildings to the town.
Beasley’s Orchard in Danville offers U-Pick sunflowers with a festival on two weekends in late July. The orchard stays open later during the festival to allow for photos during what agritourism manager Jim Finley calls “the golden hour.” Dogs are welcome.
In Fort Wayne it’s Salomon Farm Park. A few of its 170 acres are in sunflowers but there’s a lot of green space with a weekly farmers market and farm animals. Farmhouse Flowers 414 in Leesburg offers U-Pick flowers and fresh bouquets. And at the Jones Flower/Pumpkin Farm in Milton more than 50 varieties of U-Pick flowers include snapdragon, zinnia, cosmos and dahlia. Special events include U-Pick sunsets. And yes, sunflowers.
The Barn at Helm in Williams- burg has long grown corn and soy- beans. Eight years ago they added flowers and now grow more than 80 varieties of blooms. Including sunflowers. This is the fourth year of Flower Farm Friday Music Nights with live outdoor concerts on the farm beginning July 29.
Golliher’s Farm in Cambridge City boasts of one million sunflowers in yellows, oranges and reds, and 75,000 zinnias. In addition to the flowers, the farm store sells individual cuts of meat, eggs, vegetables and other local foods.
Amazing Fall Fun in Waterloo offers U-Pick sunflowers with other blooms. They call it the Field-to- Vase Sunflower Experience. It’s also got the state’s largest corn maze, and a mini maze called the Fairy Tale Trail, complete with a fairy tale, for little ones. Their Sunflower Festival is Sept. 2-4 and Sept. 9-11.
Fall is the busy time at Cornucopia Farm near Scottsburg. There’s the pumpkin patch, corn maze, and soybean maze. And sunflowers. “Our Sunflower Experience is on target for this year,” co-owner Linda Baird says. For Sept. 9-11 and Sept. 16-18. Date Night in the sunflower field is Sept. 15.
The city of La Porte takes sunflower celebration to grand heights. Its Sept. 17 Sunflower Fair offers more than 100 craft and nonprofit vendors in the downtown area. It includes a home-grown sunflower growing contest.
In Westville, just ten minutes from downtown Valparaiso, is Coburg Flower Depot. Here you’ll find a U-pick farm on three acres, with 50 varieties of flowers.
Indiana’s own French Lick Re- sort has earned a spot on the “Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Gardens List.” Between their two resort properties, you’ll find 40 different varieties of flow- ering perennials, and 17 different varieties of summer annuals each year. Roughly 11,000 summer an- nuals are planted throughout many flowerbeds, hanging baskets, and planters. Guests can learn more during events hosted at West Baden Springs Hotel, including West Baden Gardening Guidance and Fall into Garden.
Dollie’s Farm in Franklin specializes in lavender with more than 80 other flower varieties, including 17 kinds of sunflowers. In Hope, White Diamond Lavender Farm not only grows three different varieties of lavender, but they also host educational events to teach the community about benefits of lavender products, and how you can grow them yourself.
Additional flower fields include Wild Blooms U Pick Flower Farm in Wabash, Tri-County Fish and Wildlife Area in Syracuse, Anderson Flower Farm in Frankfort, Mossy Acres Flower Farm in Flat Rock, Rave and Crow Farm in Whitestown, Driving Wind Berry Farm in Indianapolis, Tuttle Orchard in Greenfield, Moore Road Farm in Indianapolis, and P&D Flower Farm in Indianapolis.