May 5, 2021

Monticello, MN: Sunflower Fields Begin With Seeds of Stories


The next best thing to feeling the warm sunshine on your face is immersing yourself in the glorious warmth of a sunflower field. If this doesn’t lift your spirits, I don’t know what will. 

I highly recommend walking among acres of sunflowers that sometimes reach as tall as 14 feet. Something about it brings out the child in you and you can’t help but to smile and set any anxieties aside. If you really pay attention you’ll notice how the yellow-petaled bonnet, which surrounds their flower head will shift with the sun revealing a little bit of their personality. Some pose proud and tall while others drift off showing their shy side. 

The Sunflower Project

Here in Minnesota we’re so fortunate that Johnny Olson, owner of Fish Realty and a farmer, has made it his mission to grow his sunflower fields and spread the sunshine with the public, which he calls the Sunflower Project. Fish Sunflower Fields are grown and located at a variety of places. Last year in 2020, a year we all needed a little more sunshine, many had the pleasure to visit the fields that were located in Monticello, Otsego, Rogers, Dayton, Big Lake, Andover, Zimmerman and Albert Lea. Each field location blooms at different times and the best way to learn about the locations, blooming dates and see videos is to check their website at Fish Sunflowers or connect on their Facebook Group Page. Last year, I went to the Monticello location to capture the sunshine. 

Johnny or otherwise known as "Johnny Fish," not only plants and grows sunflowers, but he does this with a purpose in mind. He dedicates and honors his fields in the name of a person or persons that are special to him. He brings awareness to their life story and what they may be battling, such as Alzheimer's, cancer or other health risks. His giant-sized heart, commitment to hard work and community involvement is incredible. Learn more about Johnny at "Meet the man behind the sunshine." 

Knowing about his sunflower project, you’ll appreciate your visit even more.  Of course, he doesn’t do it by himself.  The dedicated help of his wife, family, friends and volunteer donations make it all possible for the public to enjoy and stroll the groomed fields for free. Yes, that's right FREE, no charge to visit or take photos at any of the locations.

Sunflower Inspired

Also, it inspires others to visit the fields with an intention of something meaningful or to create and realize their own individual sunflower story.  It’s not surprising, but many come for special photo occasions...birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, family and generational group photos, engagements, kiddos on cars, kiddos on tractors, kiddos on pianos and the list goes on. Each field offers some fun props or you can bring your own to capture your clever creative side. 

When I visited, I saw a photographer perched at the top of a 12 ft. ladder to get an overhead shot of a family of sisters surrounded in a sea of yellow.  Huddling together they giggled as they fumbled with their footing making sure the sunflowers had the spotlight.  Quite awesome that a sunflower field can create such simple joys.

Check out some of the amazing and endless fun ideas on their gallery here

Of course, bees and butterflies love them too! 

The seeds of stories planted from the sunflower project have been growing for 6 years. So impressive! For more information and to find ways to participate click hereI encourage you to connect with Fish Sunflowers to get more information on the current year's growing season. 

I don’t know how long Johnny will continue his efforts to spread sunflower magic, but at the time I was able to visit, it definitely put a spell on me. 

It may seem silly that a field of sunflowers could have any magical power, but if you're experiencing any personal troubles, emotional despair or just plain feeling gloomy, I dare you to stand quietly in the middle of a sunflower field, look up to their cheerful blooms and, for just a moment, feel their healing power.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. 
It’s what sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller.


I hope this adventure has inspired the sweet spot in you!


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