This farmer west of London wants you to take a selfie in his sunflower field
Unlike Ontario sunflower fields that have closed, Steve Kustermans' is rolling out the welcome mat
It's his first time growing sunflowers on his farm in Mount Brydges, Ont., but already Steve Kustermans sounds quite taken with them.
Bring it on. We like to have people here.- Steve Kustermans
"They know where the sun is at all times, it's pretty spectacular," he said."I've never seen that with any other plant in my life. It's almost as if they have a mind of their own."
Kustermans' blossoming interest in the sunflower is all business. He's planted thousands of them at his family farm west of London, not as food, but as the backdrop to the perfect selfie.
"The interest is there, we'll see where it goes from here," he said, noting he has four school buses full of tourists coming from the Toronto area booked for this weekend, looking to make the two-hour drive to just to snap a picture among the hundreds of bright yellow and red plants that grow in his sunflower field.
Sunflower selfies all the rage
It's all the rage right now. The picturesque flowers have become the latest social media must-have, with tourists flocking to sunflower patches all over North America with gusto.
They've swarmed in such numbers, that in some cases the resulting chaos has forced farmers to close their fields because of crop damage and safety concerns.
Kustermans isn't worried about any of that happening on his 100-acre farm.
"Bring it on. We like to have people here," he said.
"We actually encourage people to come out and explore our sunflower fields. They can take pictures. That's what these fields are meant for. They can also cut flowers. We have a spot where they can cut and take flowers home with them as well."
The 'agri-tainment business'
The reason Kustermans is so confident he can handle the teeming masses is because he's in what he calls the "agri-tainment business." He and his family have spent years building Kustermans' Berry Farm up from being a one-trick pony.
Once a pick-your-own berry farm, Kustermans has added zip lines, a corn maze, a farm animal petting zoo, and a market where customers can buy fruit that's already been picked for them.
It just brings happiness when you're out here.- Steve Kusterman
"Our farm is developed to handle people," he said. "It has parking, washrooms to handle those crowds and that's what our farm is all about, for people to come out here and enjoy the animals, the sunflowers and what farm life is all about."
What inspired Kustermans to take the plunge into the world of selfies this season was the experience of a colleague with a farm in the United States.
"He had great success with it and I kind of brought it on. It works for us in the season and I thought it would be a great addition to our farm. It just brings happiness when you're out here with all the vibrant colours you can see."
With five different varieties of sunflowers growing in his fields, ranging from smaller dark red flowers to the larger yellow varieties, Kustermans hopes tourists will find it as the perfect backdrop for an eye-catching photograph without causing problems for farmers.
IF YOU GO:
Kustermans Berry Farm
23188 Springwell Road
Mount Brydges, ON
Cost per person to pose with sunflowers: $12