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Smiling at the sky
Family’s sunflower field casts golden glow over south Forsyth
Fleur De Soleil 1 es
Derek Newsome, 6, smiles with his freshly picked sunflower. Newsome and his family were recent visitors to the Anderson's sunflower field off Atlanta Highway and Shiloh Road in south Forsyth. - photo by Emily Saunders

When Emily Troilo and her family drove past fields bursting with sunflowers for sale along Atlanta Highway, she knew they had to make a stop before heading home to Orlando, Fla.

Troilo, 16, and her parents, Mark and Audrey Troilo, came to Forsyth County for the Fourth of July holiday to visit their former neighbors Mike and Gail Newsome.

“We wanted to come back before we left,” Audrey Troilo said on a recent afternoon, standing near the yellow-topped field.

The Troilos stopped at the 6-acre site, run by Dennis and Sharon Anderson, on their way south. The Newsome family joined them and gave them a flowery sendoff.

“We’ve done it all,” Gail Newsome said of the visit.

The fields are near the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Shiloh Road.

The Andersons have a wooden stand set up with signs asking people to pick their own flowers and pay for what they pick.

Evan Loggins, the Andersons’ nephew, checks on things throughout the day while his aunt and uncle are at work.

Loggins, 17, is a senior at Forsyth Central High School. He said the Andersons have grown sunflowers every summer for about 14 years and people have been good about paying.

The flowers are sold for $4 for a half dozen and $8 for a dozen.

Loggins said the fields are plowed and seeded, but “we let Mother Nature do all the watering for us and all the work.”

Dennis Anderson said his father, Byron, came up with the idea to plant sunflowers after they decided to scale back on their farming operation.

He said the fields were originally used to grow wheat and corn to feed farm animals. But they cut back that part of their operation and started growing the bright yellow blooms as an attractive alternative to letting the fields become overgrown with weeds.

He said for the first two years they “just cut them down and let the birds eat the seeds.”

The third year his daughter, Sara, suggested they sell the flowers. They posted signs that they were for sale and “people just started stopping by and buying them.”

He said the flowers are planted on a staggered schedule and they usually sell for about eight weeks. Anderson said dry weather has had an effect on this year’s batch.

“This year the crop is not as pretty as past years because we went for about three weeks there where we didn’t get any rain,” he said.

“But now we’re getting some rain and they’re starting to look better.”

Anderson said the fields are a favorite for parents who want to take pictures of their children in a bright and cheery setting.

Newsome was surprised to see that the sunflowers are sold based on an honor system.

“You never see that anymore,” she said. “We think this is way cool."