The Farmer’s Corner: Fall 2019


Editor’s note: Farmer’s Corner is a photo-essay that spotlights the behind-the-scenes of farming from the grower’s vantage point. For this feature, we focus on Paige Cranfield, the Hudson Valley Farm Hub’s assistant farm manager who has been working on this land since 1990. Paige grew up in a farming community in the Midwest where her family worked in the forestry industry. She has lived in the Hudson Valley for almost thirty years. Here she shares her passion for sunflowers and the many varieties that were planted this past growing season at different locations across the farm.

“One of my favorite flowers happens to be the sunflower.  The colors, different sizes of their heads and the height of the plant speak for themselves.  I first became acquainted with these beautiful flowers in my senior year in high school while taking a family vacation out west. My family drove through Kansas where there were entire fields of sunflowers– their heads followed the sun, watching the day evolve.  

When I started working here for Gill Farms 30 years ago, I was again moved by the sunflowers.  The Farm always had flowers and Sunflowers were always in the mix with many different varieties. I love them because they are always happy.  It just brightens up an area.  The bees love them, and the birds end up loving them because they eat the seeds.  They are a great conversation piece and it makes an area look really pretty.  

There are many different varieties starting with Mammoth Gray Stripe, Mammoth, Hopi Black Dye, Velvet Queen, Evening Sun, Autumn Beauty, Lemon Queen, Goldy Double, Zohar and the Teddy Bear.

For the Farm Hub flower garden, I wanted sunflowers with different colors, shapes and heights.  The Mammoth Sunflower can get up to 14 feet tall, while others are very short. Some have single heads and others have multiple blooms. For the larger grow outs there are Daytona, Mammoth and Peredovik, three eye-catching varieties that are known for their beauty. They are also used as a cover crop; with large grow outs they provide some advantages such as weed control and returning organic matter back into the soil.

Every year we try to mix them up in fields so they get people looking in different areas,  it just makes people happy.”

View the Sunflowers at the Farm Hub Gallery