YOLO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Sunflowers are in full bloom right now, and visitors are flocking to fields to take sunflower selfies.
But uninvited visitors are sometimes a problem for farmers.
So, Yolo County has partnered with some sunflower farmers and groups offering guided tours so people can get up close and personal with the beauties without breaking the law.
The annual sunflower bloom is a golden treasure in the Sacramento region. The flowers open up in June, and by late July, they’re all dried out.
So, now is the perfect time to enjoy the visual treat.
“There’s a whole science behind it that’s just fascinating,” said Terry Selk, executive director of Visit Yolo.
Visit Yolo promotes travel and tourism in the county. Yolo County recognizes what a big draw the sunflower bloom has become.
“It attracts thousands and thousands of interested parties from all over,” Selk said.
Those driving along are likely to see one of the sunflower fields, and it might be hard to resist the urge to pull over and take a sunflower selfie. But farmers ask that people respect the flowers, which represent a large part of their livelihood.
“They appreciate that people want to have that personal exposure, but they couldn’t figure out ways to keep people off their land. They posted no trespassing signs and did all the right things, but trash disposal was a problem,” Selk explained. “People were just disrespecting the whole experience. So we took it upon ourselves to say, one, how can we better support the farmers and what they do? But also, how can be capture some of that visitation that’s coming to our area but then going off somewhere else?”
From there, a creative idea blossomed: offering experiences to sunflower tourists with the blessing of farmers.
At Visityolo.com, people can now find links to sunflower-themed activities including guided tours.
“You guys will have lots of opportunities to take great photos and hang out,” Heather Fortes, with SacTown Bites, said.
Heather Fortes leads one of those tours through the company SacTown Bites.
“I’m partnered with a private farm, and they give us permission to be out here to see the sunflowers,” Fortes said. “We come out here and we spend about an hour to take photos.”
The tour also includes a museum visit, a honey tasting, wine, cheese and brunch. But the sunflowers are the stars of the show
“They do follow the sun when they’re young. So, their heads turn and try and get as much photosynthesis as possible, but once they’re mature, they really just stay facing east,” Fortes said. “And that helps them just get the early-morning pollinators and as much sun as possible.”
“Great day, great weather, and Heather does a great job organizing,” Emily Dutta, tour participant, said.
“I took pictures, and I looked at the bees,” Maya Dutta, Emily’s daughter, said.
“It’s a fantastic way for people outside the area to get that personal experience and leave with something other than just a picture,” Selk said.