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A FARMER and minister in the East Neuk of Fife have teamed up to share a message of hope, using sunflowers to raise money for charity.
Claire Pollock of Ardross Farm in Fife was approached by Church of Scotland minister Douglas Creighton and asked to sow the word ‘Hope’ in to one of her sunflower fields.
Mr Creighton, who is the minister of East Neuk Trinity Church linked with St Monans, said his congregation wanted to recognise the promise of better days ahead and the ‘Field of Hope’ is a celebration of the community spirit that people across the East Neuk of Fife showed one another during the Covid-19 lockdown.
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Supporting local charities was a big driver behind the project, with many having been unable to pursue traditional fundraising activities over the last 18 months. The congregation and the Pollock family wanted to support them, so they can continue helping people most in need.
“Hope is at the heart of the Christian message and the Church is built on hope, even in the darkest of times,” said Mr Creighton. “It has been a grim 18 months for many and we wanted to mark the end of the lockdown with something really spectacular and who doesn’t love sunflowers? They are very bright and cheery and look to one another as they follow the sun around.”
Read more: Forage-based finishing proves the golden ticket for the Pollock family
Ms Pollock, who runs Ardross Farm near Elie with her mother Fiona, and older sisters Nikki Storrar, and Tara Clark, said: “After everything we have all been through, I thought it was a great idea to try and give people a sense of hope for the future.
“This field near our farm shop is around 1.5 hectares, the size of nearly four football fields, and hundreds of thousands of sunflowers have been planted.
“It did not take that long because we use a method of direct drilling whereby we do not plough and the seeds are sowed directly into last year’s stubble,” she explained.
“We employ sustainable farming methods because we are really trying to focus on soil structure and soil health, and it is the same type of drill that the television presenter Jeremy Clarkson uses on his farm in the south of England.”
Ms Pollock’s family have farmed in the East Neuk of Fife for generations and take pride in producing 40 varieties of traditionally grown vegetables and putting the welfare and happiness of their grass-fed beef herd above all else.
She continued: “We work closely with the RSPB and every year we sow wild flowers, including sunflowers, to try and help ground nesting birds and other pollinators. People really like sunflowers and for the last five to six years we have been planting strips of them to spread some joy around the area.
“But we could have never imagined anything on this scale until Douglas came along and suggested it and we thought ‘this is fantastic because we know what the reaction to our tiny little strips is normally like’,” she concluded.
Ardross Farm officially opened on Saturday, September 4, to visitors, with around 500 turning out to mark the occasion.
Mr Creighton, commented: “It was an amazing opening day and we welcomed around 500 people of all ages to literally walk in ‘Hope’.
“It was simply brilliant and more than £2,000 was raised which will be donated to a range of local charities.
“We are still firming up which ones will benefit but we are particularly keen to back organisations which support children and young people with the aim of enhancing physical and mental wellbeing,” he explained.
“Overall, our main aim is that we can keep giving ‘hope’ to charitable organisations who provide essential support to our community as we emerge from a grim 18 months.”
Visitors to Ardross farm are asked to pay an entry fee of £5 per person or £15 for a family ticket, with all the proceeds donated to charity.
The ‘Field of Hope’ will be open most weekends from 10am-4pm until the end of the flowering season.
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