RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Chris Allen, Fresh Branch Farm owner and operator started planting sunflowers at her family’s four-acre plot seven years ago after they planted a one-acre bed of the yellow, long-stemmed flowers for an elderly neighbor who couldn’t care for flowers anymore.
“People started stopping by and taking pictures,” Allen said. “We realized we were on to something, and we started growing them from there.”
Now, they open their farm at 13801 N. Ivey Mill Road in Chesterfield to approximately 10,000 visitors each summer to take photos with the shoulder high live blooms and snip their own bouquet to go.
This Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. is the opening day of Chesterfield farm’s pick-your-own sunflowers season. The blooms last about ten days.
She makes it festive for visitors with homegrown local honey and snacks for sale as well as goats to visit. It’s also a business for Allen with per car admission and fees for each stem clipped.
“People have lost touch with the farm side of life,” Allen said about the appeal of a visit to Fresh Branch Farm. “So, when you come to a sunflower field it’s no more than an afternoon and you can experience that. It feels nice.”
The sights and smells at the farm, located just about 30 minutes south of Richmond, can be a refreshing change for suburbanites and urbanites.
She makes it easy for visitors to access the field with a nearby parking area and buckets for those who want to wade into the field to snip their own sunflowers. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own clippers.
“When picking your perfect sunflower, measure the length of the stem from your elbow to the tips of your fingers,” said Allen. “You want the bloom to be opening just a little bit. That’s where you get the longevity. A little bit of Sprite in the vase will keep them a little bit longer.”
Photographers must pay a fee to take photos using the sunflower field as a backdrop. Allen suggests those who want to stage a do-it-yourself photoshoot to strategically visit during the golden hour to get the longer shadows and colors of the sunset.
“Sunflowers are nice,” said Allen. “The stalks are about shoulder high, and you can get lost in them. They are beautiful.”
Fresh Branch Farm isn’t the only sunflower field giving the public access, Chesterfield Berry Farm, at
26002 Pear Orchard Rd Moseley, is holding its Sunflowers & Sweet Corn Harvest Festivals on Sat., July 16 and Sun. July 17 from 10am-8pm.
On Monday at 5 pm Alvis Farms at 1080 Seay Road in Manakin Sabot, kicks off its month-long 4th Annual Sunflower Festival.
Boasting 50 acres of sunflowers, visitors can “Get lost in our sunflower maze, shop and eat, pet a cow, and take LOTS of photos,” according to their Facebook event post.