NEW PALESTINE — When Kyle Fellerman planted 200 acres of sunflowers, he knew it would be eye-catching, but he had no idea how much attention the blooms would get.
The bright yellow petals are a sight worth seeing.
The sea of sunflowers reaching toward the sky near the Hancock-Marion county line at the intersection of County Road 200S and Carroll Road have delighted passersby since they were in full bloom a few weeks ago.
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Residents have been coming from near and far to snap keepsake photos of the fields. Some are even getting their high school senior photos taken near them, while the family who owns the land the sunflowers are planted on just had wedding photos taken there.
The land belongs to Robert Waterman of New Palestine.
Waterman is a life-long resident and farmer. He rents out the land to Kyle Fellerman, who also farms and loves to travel. Fellerman first saw sunflower fields growing in the western United States and fell in love with them.
He brought the idea of planting them in New Palestine to Waterman; in June, they decided instead of planting corn, soybeans and wheat fields, Fellerman would try sunflowers.
“I’ve been surprised and happy how they turned out,” Waterman said.
Waterman’s daughter, Melissa, who grew up on the family farm, said Fellerman will harvest the sunflowers and sell the plants to make sunflower oil.
The blooms are the talk of the town, and it’s been amazing what has transpired since the family first planted the seeds four months ago, Melissa said.
“Every day, we get to wake up and walk out the door and see them, so it’s pretty awesome,” Melissa said. “You can’t help but look out and love them.”
She and the rest of the family like seeing the photos shared on social media, and they were thrilled when her daughter wanted to have her wedding photos taken by the sunflowers recently.
“These pictures for us — they’ll just mean so much,” Melissa said.
The farmer hasn’t decided if he will plant the sunflowers again next year. That decision will come after it’s seen what the crop yields; but if the decision were based on the look of the land with the sunflowers, it would be a no-brainer.
The response from people across the state who have traveled to see the huge sunflower fields has been enjoyable, according to the family.
The family has been thrilled to watch people pull off the side of the road, where a hay bale sits, hop out and get a photo by the flowers. Their beauty even attracted a photography professor who came out with a drone to capture the unbelievable sight from above.
Chris Walden and wife Laura of New Palestine are no exception to being drawn in by the unusual crop flourishing near their home. They both get to see the massive sunflower fields every day on their way to and home from work.
They stopped on Laura’s birthday, a few days ago, to capture a keepsake photo.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Chris said. “I see people taking photos here all the time.”
He, like others around the area, hope the farmer decides to plant the sunflowers next year.
Many are hoping their presence becomes a fixture around New Palestine each fall for people to visit as much as they do area pumpkin patches and apple orchards.
The family doesn’t mind people stopping for photos, Melissa said, as long as they do it from the side of the fields and don’t climb into the crop.