30-acre field of sunflowers turning heads in Botetourt County
An idea to fill the fields of Beaver Dam Farm in Botetourt County with flowers has taken on a whole new level the past few years.
"My dad has always enjoyed sunflowers and he thought we could plant a few and see what happens," Candace Monaghan, a fourth generation farmer, said.
A few plants turned into row after row of brilliant black oil sunflowers. In fact, 30 acres of the golden beauties were planted this year. Monaghan estimates there are around 600,000 plants waiting to bloom, just in time for the farm's Sunflower Festival this weekend.
This is the second year in a row the family has planted the sunflowers. In 2015, the plants caught the attention of locals, which quickly spread the photos around on social media. The family had photographers and passersby stopping along the road to take photos.
This year, the public is invited to walk the fields and see the plants closeup. Beaver Dam Farm will host the first ever "Sunflower Festival" Saturday, Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Picking the date of the festival wasn't easy. The family sent photos of the plants to experts who accurately predicted the bloom date. Once the sunflowers start blooming, there's around six to eight days before they start to go downhill.
Getting into the field to see them is important, since sunflower are always on the move. That's because sunflowers are nearly always facing the sun. The plants follow the sun throughout the day in a process called heliotropism.
It' may also come as a surprise that every part of a sunflower can be put to good use.
"The roots can be used for snake bites, the stem to make paper, and leaves for a natural dye," Monaghan said. "We will harvest the plants and the seeds to make bags of birdseed."
Last year, the harvest produced three hundred, 40 pound bags of birdseed which were sold to area businesses.
Even as the sunflower's radiance begins to fade after a few weeks, they likely won't be harvested until late fall. It takes several weeks for the seeds to grow, and then the plants need to dry out before they can be cut down.
DIRECTIONS TO THE SUNFLOWER FESTIVAL