AKRON, Iowa (KCAU) — While Siouxland has seen its fair share of sunshine over the summer, for those who feel left in the shadows, one 16-year-old in Akron has you covered.
Ben Phillips, a junior at Akron-Westfield High School, explained how his flower “patch” got started and what his plans are.
“This is for my FFA SAE, which is a Supervised Agricultural Experience. I had to prepare the drill planter, a no-till drill and I had to figure out how many pounds per acre to plant the seeds,” explained Phillips.
The results were not small. Phillips said he planted an 85-pound bag of seed in a three-and-a-half acre field, resulting in 10,000 sunflowers.
“I guess this would be an agribusiness experience because I’ll be using the money to go to college and then obviously paying all this off,” said Phillips
Growing and maintaining a crop field isn’t easy or cheap as Phillips found out when he started his project.
“The most expensive part of this was the labor to kill the weeds. Me and my friends grabbed garden hoses and killed all the weeds. I paid them $15 an hour and it took maybe 40 hours, so that will be expensive.” said Phillips.
The weather was also an obstacle for his sunflowers as Siouxland has had little rainfall all summer.
“I had no idea how well or not so well this would go. I was nervous when it was super dry but then we got a couple rains and that helped it grow a lot,” said Phillips.
And when there are sunflowers, there are sunflower seeds.
“So you can have seeds that are for oil or eating. These are for oil. I think they look better in the sunflower, smaller and nicer. There are peredovik [sunflowers], and I chose them because they grow to be 5-6 feet,” said Phillips.
Phillips went on to explain what he plans to do with his sunflowers.
“We will harvest and then sell for bird seed at the Akron Scarecrow Festival. We’ll stay open as long as they look good. They really vary in size which is nice. Some small like these and some that are the size of dinner plates,” said Phillips.
The area also provides beautiful scenery for visitors to take a stroll.
“We let them walk through the path as long as they want, and they look until they see the right one. I knew sunflowers would be tall and allow you to be immersed, and a lot of people like sunflowers. People said ‘that’s my favorite flower’ or ‘my mom likes sunflowers,'”
I’ll probably do this again next year and it was a good experience in my opinion; learning how to run a business. I’ve had a lot of people have said ‘that’s a really cool idea’ and give me compliments,” said Phillips.
According to Phillips, he’s met some cool people through his project, including a beekeeper.
Siouxlanders can find his sunflowers on Facebook at “The Sunflower Patch.”