Photo Credit: Flammy Huo

How Grinter’s Sunflower Farm Became an Attraction in Lawrence


It’s sunflower season again. Families gathering among the yellow field, photographers getting close to the flowers with their camera. Crowds of people visited the Grinter’s Sunflower Farm within the short two weeks of the sunflowers blooming.

 Farmer Ted Grinter and his wife Kris Grinter are the owners of the sunflower field. According to the couple, planting sunflowers started as a tradition in the ’70s when Ted’s dad decided to bring some of the flowers into their field.

 “He wanted to grow the seed to press for the oil, and power his farm equipment with the oil,” Kris said. “He could not get enough area farmers on board with that idea, and the nearest crusher… was 400 miles away, so he decided to instead… bag them and sell them for bird feed… then it just became a family tradition to always plant some sunflowers.”

 People hanging in their field is not a new phenomena. Kris said people would come take pictures, hang around and cut flowers since 70s. In the 90s, Ted wanted to stop planting the sunflowers because people cut flowers before the flowers mature. But instead, Kris suggested to put a “money box” out in the field for people to donate. Eventually, the donation box was reported in a newspaper, and their sunflower field started becoming popular.

 According to Kris, people would call her house with questions like when the sunflowers would bloom, if they sell their sunflowers, and whether or not a wedding can be held in the sunflower field.

 “I was getting nothing done becuase I was answering the phone all day,” Kris said.

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Kris’s daughter suggested the idea of creating a Facebook Page. She could put a message on the phone directing people to the page, and turn the ringers off the phone to deal with the constant flood of questions. But the Facebook page only helped to make the field a phenomenon in Kansas.

 With all kinds of people coming into their field, Ted and Kris gradually learned to embrace the fact that their field had become an attraction.

 “The majority of people are so grateful,” Kris said.

 “Most of them are genuine,” Ted said. “People have been taking pictures, and it puts a lot of smiles on people’s faces, and I enjoyed that.”

 Ted and Kris love having people on the sunflower field, but they also have concerns about traffic and safety. On Monday, September 5th, the police closed down the sunflower field because the traffic was backed up and congested on U.S. Highways.

 “This year is the craziest,” Kris said. “We understand that they need to do something; If they need to get emergency vehicles in and out, they need to get them in and out… That’s an unfortunate side effect.”

 Despite these issues, many families continue to come and see the fleeting beauty of the sunflowers. August Krumm and Monica Krumm, two visitors to the sunflower field said it’s a tradition to see sunflowers since it is the state flower of Kansas.

 “It doesn’t last very long, so it’s pretty to see,” said August.

 Kate Collins and Will Collins moved to Kansas and came to the field for the first time with their children. They said they will make this a tradition and come take pictures every year.

 “It’s a fun family tradtion to come to see the beauty of the sunflowers and how our kids grow along side as well,” Kate said.

 Ken Orenick and Kathy Orenick came for photography.

 Ken said they’ve see sunflowers elsewhere, but they don’t get as close and intimate.

“Sunflowers are magnificant flowers to shoot in the light,” Ken said. “They are just spectacular.”

 Kathy said she really appreciates the owners opening up their field to public.

“It’s really nice that the people who own this property and these field are happy and encouraging everyone, and they want to share it, and they are happy to do so.”