County grows sunflower patch decoy to keep influencers off farms

Trespassing and damage from people taking photos of sunflowers got so bad in Adams County that they grew a public patch where you can film your Tik Toks.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 2:30 PM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BRIGHTON, Colo. — Sunflowers are the stars of late summer photo sessions, but Adams County farmers have had enough of the spotlight. Influencers and family photo seekers alike have trampled private fields, driven cars through rows of flowers, and caused so much damage that one farmer told 9NEWS he hired security to keep people off his property.

“The liability they have when folks come into their fields, the cost of their insurance skyrocketed when all of this came about,” Jennifer Tucker said. She’s an Agricultural District Coordinator for Adams County.

With encouragement from county commissioners and the help of Colorado State University Extension, Tucker and company secured 1.78 acres at the Riverdale Regional Animal Shelter and grew a public sunflower patch.

“Maybe we can educate folks and keep them out of the commercial fields where they’re trespassing and causing damage to get the same photos,” she said.

The problem really started in 2020, Tucker said. People were stuck at home and their social media feeds started being flooded with stunning sunflower photos. First came the influencers, then the families.

Everyone wanted a piece of action.

“Who doesn’t want a picture with all these beautiful little sunnies in the background smiling at you?” Tucker said. “It makes for great photos.”

The 1.78-acre plot is hopefully the first of many, she said. Tucker wants public sunflower plots spread out across the county so everyone can have easy access.

“I think that’s the big key thing here, is we get to bring a little taste of the beauty that we have out on the plains right here into town,” she said.

The blooms won’t last long. In a couple weeks they’ll go into a die down phase, where their giant heads, heavy with seeds, will go brown and face the ground.

Then folks managing the field will work with the Colorado Master Gardeners program to harvest the seeds and turn them into bird feed or sunflower oil.