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Friday, January 17, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

A blooming-good fundraising effort

Schuurmans family opens up sunflower field, soliciting donations for Woolwich Youth Centre


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Visitors to the field at Milky Wave Farm are encouraged to help themselves to the sunflowers, and make a donation to the youth centre. [Veronica Reiner]
Row upon row of blooming sunflowers can’t help but brighten the day, rain or shine – and we’ve certainly had more of the former this summer, which makes taking a stroll through a Floradale-area farm all the more enjoyable.

Better still, you’re invited to pick as many of the flowers as you’d like. There’s no charge, but a donation to the Woolwich Youth Centre would be happily accepted.

The unique fundraiser is the brainchild of dairy farmer Henk Schuurmans, who operates Milky Wave Farm. The father of five hosted a picking last year in memory of his late wife Bettina, who was killed in a collision last summer in Saskatchewan as the couple drove a tractor across the country to raise support for the Canadian dairy industry.

With the sunflower event, the family is looking to support the Woolwich Community Services youth initiative.

“Come out to get the free sunflower and also bring a bouquet for their neighbour, friends or family,” said Schuurmans. “They’re free, so take as many as you want. If you have a bit of change left in your wallet, spend it on something meaningful for our youth centre.”

There are more than 1,000 sunflowers ripe for the picking, with scissors available to help with the job, conveniently located next to a guest book and donation box.

The flowers were first planted three years ago as a family suggestion for an open plot of land at the dairy farm. There is a small trail running through the centre of the field so guests can take a short stroll through. The plants are a low-maintenance use for the land, Schuurmans notes. And the draw of sunflowers make it a natural spot for the fundraising effort he came up with.

“It was Henk’s idea,” said WCS’ Leigh-Anne Quinn. “He wanted to choose a charity or cause that he felt passionate about, and he connected with Woolwich Community Services.

“He came to our agency, and we showed him our space and chatted about our programs, and he thought the youth centre would be an appropriate place for the money to go.”

The WCS youth centre is located at the WMC, offering services to young people between the ages of 6 and 18. Its goal is to provide a safe, supervised, and fun environment. There are a variety of programs for youth to participate in, from simply a casual drop-in space to games and organized outings.

“They do great stuff; they go on McDonald’s trips together, they go to the Bingemans splash park, they do lots of sporting type stuff, so gym nights once per month,” said Quinn. “It’s just a great place. All the proceeds will specifically go to the youth centre, which is a program that is always seeking funding.”

The sunflower fields are available 24/7 at Milky Wave Inc. dairy farm, 1088 Jesse Pl. outside of Elmira. Signs will direct guests as to the precise location – the initiative got underway last week and will continue until the sunflowers are all picked.

For an ideal pick, leave 24 inches of stem attached to the flower, cut at a 45-degree angle, and place in water as soon as possible.


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