Local Economies Project | The New World Foundation

Local Economies Project

Sunflowers turn heads along Route 209

sunflower field panoramic

The bright yellow sunflowers bursting forth in the fields along Route 209 south of Kingston have captured everyone’s attention this month. Many are slowing down to look, some stop to take pictures. Everyone is wondering, why sunflowers in place of corn this year?

Since the farm is transitioning from a commercial sweet corn operation to a research and demonstration farm, we have scaled down the sweet corn production and have it growing in another field. In its place at the northern end of the Farm Hub, we have planted a cover crop blend of sunflowers, sun hemp and cowpeas to replenish the soil.

Unlike a sunflower field that is planted in rows for seed production, this cover crop mix will be mowed under later this month before the seeds harden and germinate (this way, they won’t re-seed and the field can be primed for a different crop next year). The sun hemp and cowpeas have been fertilizing the field by fixing nitrogen and when the sunflowers are cut and disked in, they will add organic matter to the soil. A late cover crop mix of triticale, vetch, and tillage radish will be seeded directly into this green manure. Its role is to protect the soil through the fall and winter and prepare it for spring plantings.

Meanwhile, sweet corn enthusiasts will be glad to know that Farm Hub corn is available at our Farm Stand on Route 209 south of Hurley, open Monday through Thursday, 9am to 6pm.

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