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Sunflower gold glitters in Gladstone

A Gladstone farming family’s idea of turning an unused paddock into a blaze of sunflowers to raise funds for a school sports team is proving to be a runaway success.

More than 1500 people are estimated to have visited the Rayner farm in the past 10 days to take their pick from about 35,000 blooms at the property, with more expected this weekend.

“It was a fundraiser for our sons’ Kuranui College hockey team. We thought it was a good alternative to the traditional sausage sizzle,” Lottie Rayner said.

In the five generations the family have farmed there, this is the first time they had grown sunflowers.

The Rayners tidied up an unused part of their 700-acre sheep and cropping farm, then “used our farm equipment to prepare the soil, plant and grow the flowers”.

About 10 days ago, when the flowers were ready, they opened the field up to the public.

“We let people get in amongst it, pick their own, and have a bit of fun,” Rayner said.

People have flocked to the field, with last Sunday, in particular, being “crazy busy”.

Even though the innovative idea has been successful, the unseasonal rain has had an impact.

“Unfortunately, we won’t cover our entire tournament bill as the bad weather we’ve had over the summer has shortened our opening season. We will have a few more fundraisers yet.”

The paddock at 117 Gladstone Rd, Carterton will be open all weekend [weather dependant] between 10 am and 6 pm.

Up-to-date information is posted on the Facebook page called ‘The Gladstone Sunflower Patch’.

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