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Written By KIRA WRONSKA DORWARD
It's almost a year to the day that Davis Family Feed Farm was closing down their sunflower fields for 2018. They'd had 18 000 visitors, some from as far away as New York.
“It all started three years ago,” says manager Sean Davis, “when Global TV did a show on the sunflowers. Once the blogs got a hold of it, it just blew up.”
Although the Davis' have been growing the 40 acres of sunflowers for twelve years, and the farm has been in the family since Sean's great-grandfather bought the property in 1952, only last year did they open up their fields and farm to the public. This year, they've gone a step further to make the two-and-a-half-week bloom period a festival, including other local vendors.
“With people coming from different parts of Ontario,” and some calling about the flowers as far away as Hong Kong, “we just wanted to showcase Caledon East and certain vendors.”
The farm has set up a vendor area next to the driveway and acre-wide parking lot. This year alongside the sunflowers, visitors can also view Creative Quest's animal exhibition, which includes a peregrine falcon, grey horned owl, red footed tortoises, baby chicks, rabbits, guinea pigs, and small reptiles. Mount Wolfe Farms will be present, selling their fruits and vegetables, in addition to June and Rose Candles, Crystalview Greenhouse, and Main Street Ice Cream. The Davises will be selling their own sunflower cooking oil and sunflower honey (made from the farm's own sunflowers and 21 bee hives), although Sean warns that only a little stock is left as they usually sell out early in the season.
It's not been an easy year for the Davis' and other Caledon farmers. A very late start to the growing season has now been compounded by a lack of rain, hence why the sunflower fields are open so much later this summer. “We would love to turn on that switch to make them turn on today, but it's all up to nature,” says Sean. However, with the 1.75 km walk cut through the fields on various paths, “it'll be a good hour in the sun for people,” he adds.
This year's festival takes place from Monday August 5 to Sunday August 18, with operating hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. From 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., the sunflower fields are reserved for family photography and engagement photos, by appointment only. Two yoga classes on Tuesday evenings have already filled up, with 100 women eager to find their zen amongst the flowers.
Entry fees for adults are $10 per person. Children 12 and under are free, and leashed small dogs are welcome as long as they are friendly and their owners pick-up. For every admission, $1 goes to support the Davis' charity of choice, the Canadian Celiac Association. Both Sean and his young son suffer from the disease, so for them the cause is personal. All proceeds from the yoga sessions are divided between the CCA and Caledon Community Services. On Tuesday August 13, Mira Budd is also leading a walk through the fields to raise money for the Trailway Association.
Two water stations will be manned by volunteers. Saturdays and Sundays, proceeds from the sale of water is going to the Caledon East United Church, and on Fridays money raised will benefit Abbey Fields.
Sean and his family ask that visitors please not go into the sunflowers and stay on the path. In terms of parking, “We'd just like to remind everyone that we're a small family farm. We don't have ten acres of parking like Costco, so we've had to sacrifice some land to parking. We hope people are understanding of that. We're hoping it's enough, but we're not too sure.”
Of the whole enterprise, Sean says, “It's wild. We're all in it together, basically.” His brother, who works in Prague will be returning to help, as will his brother from Newmarket, “So it's a big family effort. We just open it up and cross our fingers. It's definitely a new adventure.”
Post date: 2019-08-08 10:46:50
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