The 10,000 Sunflowers Project on Ohio 550 between Marietta and Fleming is bursting with colors, gold finches, butterflies and bumble bees.
While a few of the sunflowers planted May 12 appear stunted by drought conditions, others are towering more than 14 feet tall. Many would be taller but the size and weight of the sunflower heads has them bent over.
As the October community harvesting approaches, plans are coming together for dealing with four acres of 10,000 sunflowers.
A Community Harvest Day will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27, on Make a Difference Day, in the Putnam Street Commons in Marietta. During the event, the sunflowers will be de-seeded and placed in bags. Once the seeds are bagged they will be sold as bird seed, with the profits going to Harvest of Hope.
Dwight "Butch" Mitchell of the Athens Alternative School has done several years research growing and studying sunflowers. Mitchell shares that it would be most efficient to have a combine harvest the sunflower heads unless we have 10 foot tall people we trust with machetes. Seriously, he suggests harvesting the sunflowers by hand would be a grueling undertaking. The sunflowers were planted by 78 volunteers ages 2 to 96 and several with disabilities.
Mitchell suggested the community part of the effort could include group efforts to de-seed the heads and bag the seeds for birdlovers to purchase for their feeders. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
Mitchell advised that the black oiled sunflowers are most valuable because of the quantity of oil the seeds contain.
The Mammoth Russion Sunflowers, well, they are the ones towering 14-plus feet tall. They have big, fat gray and white striped seeds. It must take big birds to haul those seeds away for the winter. The multi-headed and verigated headed sunflowers still appear to be working on their seed development although they are among the most colorful and prolific along Ohio 550.
Another idea suggested for harvesting the sunflowers is to establish a day or two in October when folks may visit the 10,000 Sunflower Project with their families and collect those plants they cut. They also could photograph the outing and collect memories of the community project. Any profits from the 10,000 Sunflower Project will be donated to the Harvest of Hope food growing and recovery program in Washington County.
Those with creative ideas for havesting the sunflowers or for educational opportunities for our young welcome to share them at firstname.lastname@example.org.