Grown Here at Home: The woman behind the Sunflower Festival in Buchanan

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BUCHANAN, Va. (WDBJ7) It's kind of hard not to be in a sunny disposition when you're surrounded by thousands of sunflowers. Beaver Dam Farm in Buchanan hasn't always been blooming with sunflowers. It's a fairly new thing that started back in 2015.

“My dad has always liked sunflowers and he decided that he wanted to plant a few to see what happened to see what he grew, how they reacted to our climate. So we planted 20 acres and we noticed people just stopping on the side of the road and wanting to take pictures,” explained Candace Monaghan, founder of the Sunflower Festival.

That's when Candace got a bright idea.

“We decided to invite the public out to be able to walk through the fields and experience them a little bit more and that's when our first festival took place. We had 1,600 people come out the first festival; which was more than we were hoping for. We were just hoping for two or three hundred. In 2017, we jumped up to 10,000. We kept watching the people come through the gates and kept thinking, ‘Where are all these people coming from?’” Candace explained.

Not only is the festival a hit with people, but it's helping their farm, too.

“We were looking for a way to diversify our income. Milk prices are not what they used to be and we're not getting as much money for our milk so we needed another way to help pay bills,” Candace said.

Candace realized that many people visiting the farm didn't know that it's actually a dairy farm and growing sunflowers is just something they do. So to let people know about the farm's roots, she came up with yet another bright idea.

“I wanted to tell our story from the time we were founded until now. And so I designed a coloring book,” she said.

Candace isn't just the business-minded brain working for her family farm. She's also a talented artist and graphic designer. You'll be able to buy the coloring book at this year's festival. You can also buy bird seed. The seeds are cleaned and bagged locally.

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This story is part of a special Grown Here at Home series dedicated to Women in Agriculture.