On: August 02, 2016
Recently, I spent some time asking customers what sunflowers bring to mind. One recalled the “warmth of sunshine.” Another said “the abundance of summer.” Others think fondly of family members, like the man who never sees a sunflower without remembering his grandmother. Some of my other favorite responses ranged from “my children playing in the backyard” to “playing kickball many years ago.” It’s clear that these flowers hold a special and evocative place in the hearts of many people.
Sunflowers are ideally suited for growing in the Midwest. The total crop time from seed sowing to harvest is about 60 days. Contrary to popular myth, sunflower blooms do not follow the daily movement of the sun from east to west. They do, though, generally hold their blooms facing east—a tip to remember if you ever find yourself lost in a giant sunflower field. Although, it might be better to simply enjoy the experience rather than trying to escape it.
I took some time to wade through the fields myself on a recent visit to Little Creek Valley farm. Owners Brad and Shelly Brubaker grow flowers and berries on their property in West Manchester, Ohio. It was a genuine pleasure to spend some time with them talking about why they have chosen to devote themselves to this enterprise. It was very clear to me that the Brubaker Family takes a great deal of pride in their work. They are enthusiastic and driven, constantly seeking to improve their farming methods while preserving the environment.
Brad and Shelly were brought up in Preble County, and spent their childhoods on farms. “Our farm is very close to the one I grew up on,” Shelly says, adding that she was baptized in the creek behind their house.
“Growing flowers commercially was a good fit for us,” Shelly explains. “We started the business thinking that not only would it provide us with enough income to support our family, but also be a ministry—bringing members of the community to the farm and providing jobs for young people.”
The Brubakers have five children, three boys and two girls, ranging in age from three to eleven. “The children work hard on the farm, but they also go along with us when we take our flowers to market. This way, they meet new people and are exposed [to] all sides of the business,” Brad says.
Whether the sunflowers you pick up at DLM are from Little Creek Valley or one of our other growers (such as Peach Mountain Organics and That Girl’s Flowers), you won’t find fresher sunflowers anywhere. These locally grown beauties are harvested and delivered to our stores in less than 24 hours. Once you take them home, be sure to cleanly cut the stems and use the provided floral preservative. Keep them looking pristine by re-cutting the stems every few days. Try losing yourself in the stunning beauty of our local sunflowers—you won’t be disappointed.