By Timothy Rawles / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
Vast amounts of sunflowers are growing in Maricopa City and people are making a pilgrimage to see them.
Thanks to a Facebook video taken by Volo Photo, admirers of the 70-acre crop are taking day trips to the location to see this groundbreaking moment. What makes this so unique is that it might be the first significant sunflower crop to have ever grown in Arizona.
Special still are the people behind the project. Larry Hart is the farmer who owns the land. He works with Fierro Commodities and Cargill Beauty. Together they are not only studying how well the sunflowers will grow, but how their sustainability can be used to benefit society, including in the beauty industry.
Cargill Beauty pride themselves on using only nature-derived ingredients in their products, which, if all goes according to plan, the oil produced from the sunflowers will be incorporated into their cosmetics.
The plants also provide a healthy snack with their seeds and oil for cooking.
In a story from the Maricopa Monitor Fierro says he is new to the business of agriculture, but in looking for land on which to plant the sunflowers three years ago, he met Hart. “I’m not a farmer, my background is not a farmer, so it’s taken a lot of reading, education, trial and error to get to this point,” Fierro said.
Their success grew in leaps and bounds. What started as a 5-acre crop three years ago has grown into the 70-acre field of the golden blooms people admire today. The men want to expand that to 100 acres in the future.
Sunflowers are hearty in nature and heat tolerant. They are also resistant to pests (except birds), can adapt to their surroundings, and require less water. This all bodes well for Fierro and Hart, especially the irrigation savings, since Arizona is currently battling a drought.
The popular Volo video was taken on Father’s Day, and they warn that even though the flowers will grow a little larger they will soon begin to wilt. That window shortens every day. But visitors are welcome to safely pull of the road and view the fields. In fact, Fierro finds it exhilarating.
“They’re more than welcome,” Fierro told the Maricopa Monitor. “It’s been exciting watching the traffic. I know with Larry and the farmers it’s like, ‘Man, what do we do? Put drinks out there or something?’ We’ve seen a huge amount of traffic. The beauty is great. It was amazing, quite gorgeous to watch this huge area turn yellow.”
Onlookers are asked to respect the owner’s land and not pick the flowers or walk into the field. All trash and litter should be taken with the visitor.
If for some reason you miss this crop, another crop is scheduled for the fall depending on weather conditions.
The sunflower fields are just west of Maricopa. You can find them off of Ralston Road, and south of Highway 238.