Sunflower Gift to Ukraine
Category: News & PoliticsVia: waykwabu • one month ago • 3 comments
By: Kemii Maguire
When Quirindi farmer Ian Carter's sunflower crop was a washout earlier this year, he never expected a unique second planting would bloom into a towering success.
But just five minutes down the road from Quirindi's main street, drivers are greeted by a flash of brilliant yellow on the Liverpool Plains horizon — three months later than usual.
"In a normal year, we plant a small patch for tourism purposes along the road," Mr Carter said.
"But this year, we were rained out. Completely drowned."
Six kilometres from Quirindi's CBD, the sight of yellow appears on the horizon.( ABC New England: Kemii Maguire )
Along with the sunflowers, the mixed-crop farmer's 81-hectare block was flooded twice — in November and in January.
By the time the field had dried out, Mr Carter said it was too late to plant sorghum, which should have continued the winter crop rotation.
"The only option left was to plant sunflowers again," he said.
"We thought better to have a crop than to plant nothing at all," he said.
It will be the first sunflower crop on the Liverpool Plains to be planted twice.
Ian Carter says money raised will go to Ukraine, whose floral emblem is the sunflower.( ABC New England: Kemii Maguire )
Easter fundraising for Ukraine
An honesty box set up in front of Mr Carter's crop usually raises money that goes towards agricultural lessons for local children in the Liverpool Plains.
But this year's second crop aims to provide a broader helping hand, with money raised to be sent to war-torn Ukraine through the ABC Gives Appeal.
As the sunflower is the national floral emblem of Ukraine, Mr Carter said he hoped his crop would provide a potent symbol of reflection for visitors.
"I thought, here's a good news story. We can donate some money to the poor people who are struggling over there," he said.
"It can help give some joy that we are producing over here."
Social influencers have second shot
Previous sunflower blooms have attracted more than 4,000 snap-happy visitors to the region.
Quirindi Chamber of Commerce president Sally Alden said agritourism was a major lifeline for businesses in town.
Quirindi local Sally Alden has seen thousands of tourists and locals flock to the sunflower crop.( ABC New England: Kemii Maguire )
"Considering Quirindi's population is 8,000 that's quite a significant impact," Ms Alden said.
"More than half of our town's population travelled through here in three weeks. That goes into the cafes, the galleries, the businesses.
"Ian probably doesn't think this because it would have cost him a lot to replant, but it's actually a secret bonus for the community to have a second boost."
The majority of tourists have been social media influencers looking for the perfect backdrop.
But visitors to the fields have ranged from locals to wedding reception guests.
Ms Alden, who is also a keen photographer, said it was no secret why so many people were attracted to the flowers.
"I think they just represent happiness. You can't stand in a sunflower field and not smile," she said.
"After the years of drought and COVID, people need joy. And the sunflowers are absolutely capturing that."
The new sunflower crop spans 81 hectares.( ABC New England: Kemii Maguire )
Once Mr Carter's 81-hectare crop has seeded in a few weeks' time, it will go to stock feed.
But, having seen the success of this second blooming, he said he was now contemplating two plantings every year.
"Perhaps Easter time is a better way to do it. Not sure. It's just a happy accident really," he said.