Since 2012, Pete Johnson and his family, of Treasured Haven Farm in Rush City, have grown sunflowers.
Pete Johnson said, “One year the boys just wanted to try growing sunflowers, so we did.”
Zach and Ike Johnson are two of five Johnson children, and they took an interest in this unique field crop around 2012. For the first couple of years, the family just grew the crop and harvested the heads for sale.
One year they had a crop near the road and people kept stopping and taking pictures and harvesting sunflowers. That was when the idea came to make their farm a sunflower destination.
This is the second year the farm is offering their sunflower fields as an agritourism destination.
Pete Johnson said they knew there would be a lot of response from previous interest. He didn’t expect fielding sunflower questions via phone and email would take up so much time. He loves the farm, though, and sharing his passion for organic agriculture with the world.
“Yesterday I got a call from Rochester. I have gotten calls from the Iron Range. People come from all over. Probably 75% (of the visitors) come from the cities,” Pete Johnson said.
They do charge $15 per car to access the sunflower fields. This helps them maintain a parking area and keep the fields in pristine condition. Many people come to take pictures, including graduation, engagement and family pictures.
Pete Johnson stressed the sunflowers are for looking, not for harvesting, though at the end of the season, harvested heads will be available for purchase. Pete Johnson just wants to make sure the flowers stay beautiful throughout the season.
The hardest part about raising sunflowers in an organic way is weed control and getting to the sunflowers before the birds do. He said sunflowers don’t like cold, wet conditions, but this year has been pretty good; his fields are on high ground and it has been warm enough for things to dry out.
Pete Johnson expects the sunflowers will bloom during the second week in August and recommends people follow Treasured Haven Farm on Facebook to receive updates. Treasured Haven Farm is located at 53407 Government Road in Rush City.
The farm also offers other agritourism options like 5K runs and a half-marathon through their trails. The next race event will be held Aug. 10-11. More information on races can be found on the Treasured Haven Farm Trail Runs on Facebook.