Bright, salad-plate-sized harbingers of summer, sunflowers have long been a staple of farmers-market bouquets. But in more recent years, people have sought to commune with these towering petalled beauties by visiting the fields where they grow during peak blooming season, which happens to be this month. The popularity of these flowers has attracted photo seekers, families and others who love a good bloom, perhaps because, as author Corina Abdulahm-Negura has said, “A sunflower field is like a sky with a thousand suns.” Here are five spots in in our region to walk among the golden cheeriness:
5845 48th Ave., Hudsonville
If you’ve ever wondered what hundreds of thousands of sunflowers look like, then a visit to Bremer Produce will show you. The farm regularly plants more than 30,000 seeds of 12 types of sunflowers, and the result is an acre-and-a-half sea of sunshine. The farm is U-pick; flowers are $1 each, and the season runs until mid-September. Farm hours are 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily. Visit bremerproduce.com for updates and more information.
Gull Meadow Farms
8544 Gull Road, Richland
Richland’s Gull Meadow Farms, which grows more than two dozen sunflower varieties on five acres, is a convenient jaunt from Kalamazoo. During Sunflower Days, held on weekends in August, the fields are open to visitors. Tickets are $14.99, or free for children under 36 inches tall, and include admission to the sunflower fields, one flower to take home, and family activities. Visit gullmeadowfarms.com for updates on peak blooming times.
2426 30th St., Allegan
What happens when you plant a sunflower to brighten up your world? Well, as the Gorby family — Wayd, Christina and their five children — have found, you plant more and more until you have entire fields of happiness that you just want to share. The family opens their fields, located five miles north of downtown Allegan, for others to enjoy during the flowers’ peak blooming season. You can take photos, wander the fields and buy a pre-cut bouquet to take home. For peak blooming time and hours, check the farm’s website at gorbysunflowers.com.
61391 Mayflower Road, South Bend, Indiana
Thistleberry Farm, which is roughly 80 miles from Kalamazoo, offers a very fragrant way to get your sunflower fix. Not only does the farm offer several sunflower varieties to wander through, but it has adjacent lavender fields that are in peak bloom as well. While closed in the month of August, the fields will open again in September. Admission to the sunflower field is $8 per person, and flowers are $1 to $2 each, depending on the variety. For updates on blooming times as well as information about the farm, visit the farm’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ThistleberryFarm.
Hubbard’s Corey Lake Orchards
12147 Corey Lake Road, Three Rivers
No matter what time of summer you visit Hubbard’s Corey Lake Orchards, you will find it a fruitful experience. That’s because this orchard and farm has about 150 acres in production and offers U-pick strawberries and blueberries, in addition to growing 60 varieties of apples. There’s nothing better than sipping one of the farm’s own handcrafted hard ciders as you roam the sunflower fields or take in the scenic view of the farm and neighboring Kaiser Lake. The farm and its market are open 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Thursday–Monday. For more information, visit coreylakeorchards.com.