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Lee, N.H. Sunflower Festival Celebrates Brief Blooms

A woman sits inside a field of sunflowers.
Jackie Harris
Oilseed sunflowers only bloom for about a week per year. In Lee, N.H., they're celebrating the flowers' arrival.
Jackie Harris
Coppal House Farm co-owner and farmer, Carol Hutton, stands in a field of sunflowers.

The annual Sunflower Festival at Coppal House Farm in Lee is celebrating the short bloom period of oilseed sunflowers. Farmers Carol and John Hutton grow the sunflowers to make culinary oil. Carol Hutton says the oilseed sunflowers only bloom for one week in the year as they attract pollinators.

“Nine days, that's all it takes for these flowers to get pollinated,” says Hutton. “So the bees are out there working right now, and as soon as that's done the flower is going to turn over and it's going to protect itself.”

The sunflower heads droop downwards to protect their seeds from the rain and birds.

“In another week the field will look green because we’ll see the backs of the stems,” Hutton says.

With their heads bowed, the oil-rich seeds will ripen and dry out. For now, the fields are a sea of yellow flowers that all proudly face east, and visitors can enjoy them while they last. In a few months, the Huttons will harvest and press the seeds for oil.

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