Sunflower experiment leads to 'field of happiness' in Hay River, N.W.T.

·2 min read
A 30-acre field of sunflower seeds in Hay River, N.W.T. They were planted by Ann Boden and her husband on their farm, not knowing if the flowers would grow. (Submitted by Ann Boden. - image credit)
A 30-acre field of sunflower seeds in Hay River, N.W.T. They were planted by Ann Boden and her husband on their farm, not knowing if the flowers would grow. (Submitted by Ann Boden. - image credit)

What started out as a plan to grow commercial potatoes has become a unique sight in the North.

Ann Boden, who owns and operates Boden Farms with her husband in Hay River, N.W.T., said they couldn't find a place to store the potatoes so they decided to grow something else instead.

"We actually planted 30 acres of black oil, sunflower seeds as more of an experiment than anything," she said.

The result? "It's a field of happiness," said Boden.

"You can stand out there and you walk 10 feet into those flowers and the road disappears and the town disappears. And you are just surrounded by these little pieces of joy. That's the only way I can describe it," she said.

Submitted by Ann Boden
Submitted by Ann Boden

She said the couple didn't know if the flowers would grow when they seeded the land, and agreed that if they didn't, the seeds would at least provide nutrients to the soil and help break up some of the clay in it.

"But it's turning out that I now have 30 acres of gorgeous yellow and green sunflowers," she said.

She said that in one field, the flowers stand seven-feet tall.

"You walk five feet in and you just disappear," said Boden.

She said she also noticed a lot of bees on the flowers.

"You can just hear the whole field buzzing," she said. "I've seen honey bees out there. I've seen the big bumblebees out there. So that's really, really encouraging to see."

Commercial opportunity

The couple decided to sell the sunflowers this year.

"People have been really excited to be able to come and get some. [The] bouquets are huge. There's 10 flowers in a bouquet and they're massive," said Boden.

Submitted by Ann Boden
Submitted by Ann Boden

She said that next year, they'll use the sunflower seeds for birdseed.

"And whatever we don't keep for the local birdseed market will be sent South if there's not enough demand for it," she said, adding they expect to be able to produce 60,000 pounds of birdseed.

"I don't know if the North can absorb 60,000 pounds of birdseed," she said with a laugh.

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