Petals to the metal: Sunflower season on P.E.I. kicks off

After a late start to the season, some sunflower growers on PEI are optimistic about what lies ahead for the beloved flower.

Crystal Burke-Cheverie, who helps run Fortune Bridge Farms in Souris, PEI, says dry weather over the last month was making it difficult for sunflowers to bloom.

However, recent rain means flowers are now in bloom and the demand is high, Burke-Cheverie said.

“They seem to be really popular all over the Island. Everyone you talk to likes sunflowers,” she said.

This Saturday was the first day for the farm’s sunflower festival. The festival includes artisans, food vendors and live music on Saturdays and Sundays for the next few weeks.

“We’ve done a sunflower trail, which was just a walkway and some photo ops and everything, but I just decided to take another step because it just seems to be getting more popular,” Burke-Cheverie said.

Other sunflower U-picks hope to open for the season soon.

Denise and Kendall Docherty run Little Farm on The Jib in Hazelbrook, PEI, with help from their kids. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Kendall Docherty, who runs Little Farm on The Jib in Hazelbrook, PEI, with his family, is still waiting for more blooms, but he’s hoping to open up by Monday.

“Fingers crossed we don’t have too much wind,” he said.

Tasks remain before opening, including mowing grass, cutting paths and installing signage, he said.

Docherty said things got really busy in 2020 when people sought out outdoor activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of those people are now repeat customers.

“We’ve been getting messages from people the last couple of weeks that say they can’t wait until we’re open. It’s become an annual family activity,” Docherty said.

“To us that’s what it’s all about. Like, it’s not something we do to make money. It’s something we do to give back to the community.”

Some sunflowers at Little Farm on The Jib are almost ready to bloom. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Little Farm on the Jib donates 50 per cent of sunflower sales to charities.

Docherty plants his five patches of sunflowers at different times so they don’t bloom all at once. He hopes that strategy has people picking flowers into the first week of October.

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