The 10 acres of sunflowers along Ohio State Route 68 outside of Yellow Springs won’t be planted this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, 20,000 people visited Whitehall Farm to see the sunflowers during their three week bloom in September. Sharen Neuhardt owns the farm with her husband Dave. They have hired a local farmer to plant sunflowers on a portion of their property every year since 2003. But this year, Sharen says, it’s not safe.
“People want to enjoy it, and it’s hard to do that with masks. How do you socially distance yourself in the sunflower field? And so the main thing is to keep people safe so that they'll be alive to come back and enjoy the sunflowers next year.”
Volunteers from the Tecumseh Land Trust usually greet visitors and oversee parking in the field. Since the field won’t be planted this year, the Land Trust will, for a small donation, send out packets of sunflower seeds for people to plant in their own gardens.
Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.