Wis. Farmer Plants 2 Million Sunflowers to Offer People a Chance to ‘Get Away' During Coronavirus

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Scott Thompson had been dreaming of planting a sunflower field at his Wisconsin strawberry farm for years, but kept putting it off.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit and Thompson knew his field would be more needed than ever.

"What a great way to give people something to do," Thompson, of Thompson Strawberry Farm in Bristol, said of the idea.

But what started as one small field just kept growing... and growing.

"We planted on grass areas around it, you know, big grass lanes going through the middle of the fields so that people can really just spread out," Thompson said. "We encourage people to bring picnic blankets and stuff like that so it just made more of an experience than just picking flowers. We just want to give people a place to come to this kind of experience, which is slow down and kind of get away from the realities of what's going on in the world."

Thompson started by planting in one small field, but his plan quickly grew to a bigger field, and an even bigger field until two million flowers were planted. The biggest field, he said, has yet to even bloom.

"That spreads the season out so they're not all ready at one time," Thompson said.

The final field, he hopes, will stay open through the end of September, barring any major changes in the weather.

In addition to the sunflowers, Thompson also planted a field of zinnias, and a field of wildflowers "so [visitors] can add color to their bouquet if they don't want to just be yellow," he said.

"The wildflowers, they really attract all the butterflies and stuff like that so we've got a path that goes to the wildflower field that you can kind of walk through and just all the different types of butterflies are flying around," he said. "It's really neat."

In addition to coronavirus, the farm also wanted to offer some light to what has been a difficult time, particularly just a few miles away in Kenosha. There, unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake left many buildings burned and sparked days of protests and curfews for residents.

"It definitely hit close to home," he said, adding that this season saw a higher-that-usual number of Wisconsinites visiting the farm.

The farm is offering two dozen flowers with a $25 per car entry fee. Pick-your-own raspberries will also be available beginning Wednesday and pumpkin season begins Sept. 16.

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