When Dennis Anderson’s father suggested planting sunflowers on the family farm, Anderson couldn’t see a good reason.
It was a good decision.
The man who grew up farming now owns and operates Anderson’s Sunflower Farm at 3360 Shiloh Road in Cumming. The farm is a popular summer destination for Georgians taking family portraits or interested in purchasing bright, yellow blooms.
Anderson explained the decision to plant sunflowers was made in 1994 when his father phased out his hog operation.
“We weren’t going to grow corn and wheat and such anymore for the animals,” Anderson said. “So that year, my dad said rather than letting the fields grow up into weeds, he was going to plant sunflowers.
“I said, ‘Why? You’ve got to be kidding.’”
But the family planted the flowers all the same, and within one year, it was a hit in the community.
“People would actually stop and leave notes in the mailbox, thanking him for making their drive to work more pleasant,” Anderson said.
Later that same year, one of Anderson’s daughters suggested they try selling the flowers. He told them to make signs and see if they have any luck. Any money they made, he said they could keep.
People started stopping and buying. More than 18 years later, business is booming.
“It’s really kind of a fluke that it turned into a business,” Anderson said.
Originally, the farm worked on the honor system. The family would be present on weekends, but during the week, visitors could cut flowers from buckets and drop money in a box on the farm.
Today, the 40-acre farm is open 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily and has allocated six acres to sunflowers. Visitors pay $10 per carload to explore the property. But guests coming by to shop for flowers are exempt from the car fee.
Families are asked to pay a $35 fee if they bring a professional photographer to take portraits. Professionals and families are exempt from the car fee, though.
Flowers are sold for $8 per half-dozen and $12 per dozen at a stand on the property. Visitors can pick from a pre-cut selection or borrow shears to cut their own.
Local Joe Bees Honey is available for $10 a jar on site.
Anderson said the growing interest in the farm is “amazing.”
“We have couples (who) drive from Chattanooga, Columbus, Augusta and everywhere just for the day to take pictures with the sunflowers,” he said. “Because of Facebook, it’s grown exponentially. Some family will post that they’ve come to take a picture, and then there are five more wanting to take pictures.”
Once the flowers start blooming in early summer, Anderson said there’s about a three-week window in which the field stays full and “pretty for pictures.”
Eventually, the seed in the middle grows and the petals fall off. Anderson estimates the field has less than two weeks left of full blooms.
This week and last week, families flocked to the farm with their children and loved ones in tow, Anderson said.
Rebecca Smith of Cumming brought her dog Milo to the farm Wednesday to take his picture as he laid by the flowers.
“He’s getting older. He’s 12 now,” Smith said. “I’d heard of friends coming here and I thought, ‘What a nice place to have his picture made.’
It’s beautiful and a nice visit if you can come before it gets too hot in the day.”
The flowers are not the only draw to the farm. The property is well-known for its 100-year-old barn, where young men have proposed to their girlfriends and families have taken portraits. Adjacent to the barn is a vintage red pickup, which Anderson said also makes a good backdrop next to the blooming fields.
“People enjoy it,” he said. “Everybody loves sunflowers. It’s a happy flower, as people say.”