Scott Thompson and his family own a farm in Wisconsin. Like most Americans, he has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the racial unrest plaguing the country. With hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from COVID-19, he hoped to do something that would make people happier. That’s why he and his family committed to planting over two million sunflowers in their former strawberry field so other people could visit and have a picnic while the pandemic ravages the country.
Kenosha County was home to the violent murder of Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020. Officer Rusten Sheskey fired four bullets into the back of Blake, 29, during an arrest. Sheskey shot Blake in the back when he opened the door to his SUV and leaned in. At the time of the shooting, Blake’s children were also in the car. The sunflower field gives people a little bit of hope amid a time of strive and death.
For more than seven decades, Scott Thompson’s family has operated a farm in the Wisconsin county. However, this is the first time Thompson or any of his ancestors have decorated their acreage with flowers. Although the farm usually invites guests to visit and pick their own strawberries in the summer and pumpkins and raspberries in the fall, Thompson wanted to do something different this year, so he abandoned his family’s business plan and planted sunflowers instead.
The Thompson Strawberry Farm is located ten miles from Kenosha in Bristol, Wisconsin. He decided to use his farmland as a place for people to gather and create positive memories. The idea behind the sunflowers was to give people a reason to smile. He told CNN that he thinks the idea is working.
“We just did it … and we just kept building,” Thompson told CNN. “As the season went on, the pandemic never went anywhere … and we thought people might be looking for something to do, and what a great way to social distance and … smile, basically.”
Thompson planted sunflowers across twenty-two acres of farmland. Seven of the acres haven’t even bloomed yet, which should help people come out and have fun for weeks to come.
“One of the things that are so cool about this is everyone is so happy,” Thompson said. “We get all these comments on Facebook, or if I’m out in the field, everybody is like, ‘Thanks for doing this,’ (and) ‘This is what I needed.’ People are so happy to be out there and have a place to go.”
News from the farm spread by word of mouth, and people came from as far as Chicago to visit. The farm was a way for people to escape the pandemic and the racial unrest for a few minutes and have a picnic with the family.
Because he’s had so many guests come to see the sunflowers, he may be changing his family’s business plan to include some next year, too. He also planted other flowers, including zinnias, a field of wildflowers, and Mexican sunflowers. They’ve been attracting a lot of beautiful butterflies.
“I’m just glad we get to have a business people are happy to come to … and get away from the city,” Thompson said.
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