Dress for Success collection day at WQAD

Pride of the Wapsi trades in strawberries for sunflowers

LONG GROVE, Iowa-- For the first time in 15 years, Pride of the Wapsi will not be growing strawberries; they're growing sunflowers instead.

It's a new day at this Iowa farm, and it's a sunny one.

After months of tending the fields. this place is ready for their first of its kind crop debut.

"We think it's an opportunity for families to see something they normally don't see in Iowa. We see fields of gold tassels but not gold flowers," says Pride of the Wapsi co-owner Pat Dierickx.

On the farm, feast your eyes on two acres filled with 40,000 sun-seeking beauties. There are six different kinds, all with different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Starting opening day people can come to the farm, take in the views, and take some fresh flowers home.

"Pick a sunflower, have a glass of wine, spend the afternoon with us," says Dierickx.

Dierickx says planting these was a change that makes sense for the farm and the customers.

"When we first started at Pride of the Wapsi, we did strawberries, sweet corn and a fall festival of pumpkins," says Dierickx.

For the past 15 years, picking strawberries was a staple here at the farm. But growing them wasn't always easy.

"It is a very labor extensive and expensive project to do," says Dierickx.

And Dierickx says the way visitors spend time on the farm is different.

"Families would come out and pick 100, 150, 200 pounds of strawberries. That culture is changed," says Dierickx.

He says when people come to the farm, they want an experience. They'll come in with their families, enjoy the flowers, snap a picture and post it to social media.

With a new venture on the horizon, the future here is as bright as the newly grown petals.

Sunflower Days opens July 20-21 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and then again the following weekend.

Visitors can also come out during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

And photographers can call and reserve private plots of flowers to shoot photo sessions in the evenings.

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