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Village Life

Photo by Gary Kunze, which was a winner of the 2014 Sunflower Photo contest. (YS News archive photo)

Sunflower field in full bloom

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Flower lovers delight: The Yellow Springs sunflower field just north of the village, at 4627 U.S. 68, is in full bloom.

The field will be open for public enjoyment for the coming two weekends: 4–7 p.m. Fridays, Sept. 22 and 29, and 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 23 and 24, and  29 and 30. Two grass lots will be available for free parking. No parking is permitted along 68.

Since 2002, the 13-acre sunflower field has been planted each year by local farmer Jim Clem on the Whitehall Farm, owned by Dave and Sharen Neuhardt. The farm is under the preservation of Tecumseh Land Trust, or TLT, a local nonprofit that mobilized the effort to save the 940-acre property in 1999. Last year, TLT transferred oversight and coordination of the “open-field” days to the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce.

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As a former volunteer coordinator for the field days told the News in 2019, the field has some 400,000 sunflowers, and annually draws more than 20,000 visitors. In 2019, the Neuhardts won the Village Inspiration and Design Award for their field.

“The sunflowers bring people from all over — and that’s good for a lot of business in town,” Mark Heise, chair of the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce board of directors, told the News in an interview earlier this week.

While the sunflowers have become emblematic of Yellow Springs’ free-spirited reputation, Heise did note several rules for those visiting the fields. Visitors cannot pick the flowers, nor can they fly drones overhead. People are encouraged to take pictures in the field, though no photographer is permitted to “camp out” and offer their photography services to others. Violators of those rules, Heise said, will be banned.

Despite the Chamber not wanting to “commercialize” the annual sunflower field opening, Heise said that T-shirts will be sold at the farm to cover the cost of hosting the event. Heise said the Chamber will pay the off-duty deputies from the Greene County Sheriff’s approximately $6,000 to direct traffic along 68. Additional costs include directional signage along the road.

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