New Brunswick

Florence Nightingale corn maze honours COVID-19 health-care workers

The six-acre corn maze at Hunter Brothers Farm in Florenceville-Bristol not only pays tribute to frontline medical workers during COVID-19 but also honours the nurse their community is named after. 

Maze covers six acres on family farm in Florenceville area

In a tribute to frontline health care workers during COVID-19, Hunter Brothers Farm is honouring the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. (Hunter Brothers Farm/Facebook)

The annual six-acre corn maze at Hunter Brothers Farm pays tribute to frontline medical workers during COVID-19, and also honours the woman who is credited with inventing modern nursing.

Chip Hunter said when his sister-in-law, who is a nurse, told him it was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, it touched the right chord with the family members as they looked for an idea for this year's maze. 

"We like to have a Canadian connection, of course, Florenceville is named after Florence Nightingale and it has to have a good image ... it's a great image."  

Nightingale, who was born May 12, 1820, is widely credited with pioneering modern nursing. In a Facebook post announcing the theme of this year's corn maze, the Hunter family shared their family connection with nursing. 

"Aunt Muriel Hunter developed health co-ordinated nursing services in New Brunswick and remained the province's Director of Public Health Nursing until 1964," the post read. "To this day there is a scholarship in her name awarded by the Nursing Faculty at UNB. Chip and Tom's mother Marjorie, their sister Barbara, and Tom's wife Shelley all entered the profession as well."  

Hunter said he and the family decide what subject and image to feature, they begin the work to create the maze. 

"We come up with a design, we overlay it on the field, and then we go back and forth … and we say, well, we need more here, we need less there, we need to expand it, we need to contract it, this works, that doesn't work.".

Chip Hunter says the maze covers six acres. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Hunter said once they agree on it, the corn is planted. Then the engineer comes in with his team and he lays out the maze design on the ground. 

"After the corn sprouts, we go in and take it out." 

While the whole process takes three months, Hunter said removing the corn they need to create the paths and maze design takes about seven to 10 days.  

The family uses a drone to monitor how the maze looks from above as the corn grows. 

Hunter said they go into the field to trim trails and touch it up to make it look just right for a photograph. 

"So you have an optimum time in which to take the picture. This year, because it was so dry, there's some streaks in it but that's only because that's where corn didn't grow very well, because the heat was on a gravelly patch there."

Hunter said the maze, which opens Saturday, features questions about Nightingale. 

"People walk around with an answer card and they look at the questions and select what they think is the right answer. Then we have at the end, there's a board where you can check your answers."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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