KAWARTHA LAKES – This summer, families will have the opportunity to face the sun with over 100,000 sunflowers that sprawl across five acres of local, scenic farmland.
Graham Smith is a third-generation dairy farmer at Pinedale Patch Farms, 1740 Concession Rd 4, Sunderland and the farm has been milking since 1958. In 2016 Graham and his wife, Holly, along with their two young daughters, Brynn and Briar, started expanding the farm and their market with pumpkins and more recently, sunflowers.
“They have beautiful, large yellow heads, perfect for photos, they’re in their prime right now,” said Holly. “We like to promote local agriculture, to bring people out and experience life on the farm and to show where we produce the products that they enjoy and how that process happens.”
The five-acre sunflower patch is open for tours and is expected to be in full bloom until early to mid-August. Families can enjoy various lawn games, acres of winding, scenic trails, lush with thousands of six-foot sunflowers, antique farm equipment and more.
On the 300-acre farm, the Smith family has 100 milk cows, grows various crops to feed the animals such as corn, hay and soybeans and they also offer a farmer’s market to their visitors where they sell pumpkins, sunflower bouquets, locally sourced garlic from Deer Run Farm in Valencia as well as locally made ice cream that is purchased from Central Smith out of Peterborough, proudly made with Canadian milk.
According to Holly, the 100,000 sunflowers were planted in high population with a six-row corn planter, thirty inches apart. The seeds were planted in mid-May and took approximately 75 days to bloom.
“We rely on rainwater and this year we were lucky, they grew so quickly,” she said. “They were up out of the ground in five days, normally it takes two weeks.”
Holly noted that many bumblebees are busy at work but have yet to bother visitors as they’re focused on pollinating.
“We knew there would be a few bees and it’s crazy, but we want to help rejuvenate the bee population right now, there is so much pollen in the sunflowers,” she added.
And at the Pinedale Patch, nothing goes to waste. Those who purchase a bouquet can hang their blooms upside down in a dark place to dry, the seeds can then be roasted and enjoyed. At the end of the season, visitors can also request to return to the farm to take more sunflower heads home and according to Holly, it can be placed outside in the yard for many birds to feast.
When the season is over, the rest of the sunflower patch will be combined for cattle feed.
The Pinedale Patch is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1:00 to 6:00, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 to 7:30 and Sundays from 10:00 to 6:00.
During the long weekend visitors can take the tour from 10 to 7:30 on Friday and Saturday and 10:00 to 6:00 on Sunday and Monday. Pets are welcome on leash and the trails are wheelchair and stroller accessible as they are regularly groomed.
“The sunflowers are currently facing east and when you’re in the field visitors will enjoy them while they’re looking at the west and the western sun during the golden hour, it’s absolutely stunning,” said Holly. “It’s really, really pretty, catch an early supper and come out later in the afternoon, perfect for pictures.”
For more information, find Pinedale Patch on Facebook and Instagram or visit Pinedalepatch.ca.
“Sunflowers are an impressive plant. They grow beautiful golden flowers while having impressive height and leaf foliage,” added Holly. “These flowers can be enjoyed by all ages and through our winding trails, an on-farm adventure awaits.”