Sunflowers brighten the farming image.

That’s my kind of farmer! Kurt Wanner was seeding phacelia, a green manure that blooms lavender purple, and asked his wife Monika for some sunflower seed. Now the field, about one hectare, is a purple haze dotted with golden flowers. A farmer that thinks beauty along with practicality…

Kurt Wanner turns a field into a flower garden, a practical and beautiful enterprise.

Kurt Wanner turns a field into a flower garden, a practical and beautiful enterprise.

Someone told me there might be more practicality than beauty in Kurt’s thinking. The field is along a well used biking and hiking path. The Swiss consumer sees (and pays) the farmer as someone responsible for maintaining the balance of nature, for producing healthy food (which to many means organic), for keeping healthy happy animals. It is in the self interest of the Swiss farmer to do whatever he can to uphold that image in people’s minds. Seeding sunflowers amongst the phacelia might be part of that strategy.

Not only does this field brighten up the passing consumer's day, but also their image of their local farmer.

Not only does this field brighten up the passing consumer's day, but also their image of their local farmer.

If it is, it’s working. Most sunflowers are past bloom now, whereas these are lighting up the landscape. The neighbouring village of Beggingen had a reunion and asked if they could cut some of the flowers. Others walking by have asked too. The Wanners are generous. Of course we can cut the flowers. Monika encouraged me to cut some too, and they grace the front of the house where all who walk by can enjoy them.

It often doesn’t take much to go that extra mile, to help improve the farmer’s image. I don’t know if Kurt seeded the sunflowers for the mind or the heart. Whatever he did, it works for me!

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