Unique venture an ‘amazing’ success

Ashley Thompson
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A family-owned and operated farm in Mount Denson is boosting its profile by inviting people to get lost.

The Dakeyne Farm is home to Nova Scotia’s first sunflower maze.

More than 412 people attempted the hand-plotted maze hidden within four acres of sunflowers during its opening weekend, from Sept. 1-3.

“We’re overwhelmed with how successful it’s been,” says maze co-manager Jen Murphy.

“It’s been a lot of fun.”

Visitors are handed a list of sunflower trivia questions before they enter the maze. Murphy says it generally takes guests at least 30 minutes to trek through the sunflower-shaped course, seeking answers to the questions, and taking impromptu photos of their cheerful surroundings.

“It’s beautiful. It’s kind of like being in one big happy place.”

Murphy says there’s plenty of time to stop and enjoy the flowers. Running is not permitted in the maze, which, naturally, has become a hotspot for honeybees in search of pollen.

“The bees will leave you alone for the most part but, if you scare them, they’re going to react,” Murphy said. “We didn’t order the bees, they just showed up.”

The revenue generated from the maze will be used to help the Wilson-family farm, a former dairy operation that now relies heavily on beef production, explore new business ventures as it moves into its 100th year of operation next spring.

“It’s beautiful. It’s kind of like being in one big happy place.” Jen Murphy

Ken Wilson, who planted the seeds for the maze located on his father’s property, believes more than 160,000 sunflowers are packed tightly within the perimeter of the labyrinth.

“It’s a good adventure for everybody,” he said. “We did hit the unique scale.”

Wilson says the maze, which has a life expectancy of about a month, has attracted a lot of interest and, in doing so, gained the farm some much-needed exposure.

“We’re trying to bring this farm back into focus,” he said.

“The sunflowers help fund and support the land structure here and, in time, will give us a chance to plant some berries and different things like that.”

Wilson says the plan for 2013 is to plant the maze across the road, in a larger field that will have the sunflowers facing the cars travelled along Highway 1.

“We’re definitely going to be doing this project again.”

The maze will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until the flowers fall, and are harvested. Admission is $6 for children 12 and under, and $8 for adults.

Flowers are for sale on site as part of a fundraiser for the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.dakeynefarm.com

Organizations: Valley Regional Hospital Foundation

Geographic location: Mount Denson, Nova Scotia

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