Florida farm changes sunflower picking policy after ‘an overwhelming amount of theft’

Southern Hill Farms now charging admission for U-pick fields

Southern Hill Farms sunflowers (Copyright 2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

CLERMONT, Fla. – Guests sneaking out sunflowers and butchering blossoms has caused a Florida farm to change its picking policy.

Southern Hill Farms posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that it has experienced “an overwhelming amount of theft” in its U-pick fields, which have been particularly popular in recent months as residents look for socially distant activities.

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“Hundreds of sunflowers have been found in a day that have been intentionally cut and thrown on the ground. Guests have witnessed other U-pick attendees cutting flowers and then sneaking them out of the fields using a wide range of means,” the post read.

This year marks the eighth season of opening the fields up to guests but recently, rule breakers have gotten out of control.

“These continued issues, along with many others, are far beyond what we anticipated experiencing this u-pick season and has caused us to reevaluate our current procedures. We kindly ask that all guests of our farm continue to be respectful of our infrastructure, crops, Team Members and fellow patrons,” Southern Hill Farms wrote.

We would first like to acknowledge all of our loyal and courteous guests who have supported our farm and respected our...

Posted by Southern Hill Farms on Wednesday, March 31, 2021

To help keep guests in line, the farm will start charging admission for the U-pick fields in addition to the $2 for each sunflower. The cost will be $5 plus tax for anyone 10 and older and $2 plus tax for those ages 3 to 9. The admission also includes a bottle of water.

Fans of the farm said they were sad to see that theft and destruction led to the new rules.

“Your farm grows not only plants but memories for those who get to experience the fun and beauty of hanging out in a field of fruits or flowers all day. It hurts my heart to hear people are so disrespectful. I’m sorry this has happened and that you had to institute an access pass to recoup losses and keep people honest,” one woman wrote.

Many commenters said they have been visiting the farm with their loved ones for years.

“This is unfortunate. My family and I have visited your farm almost weekly during the sunflower season to purchase sunflowers and strawberries and were looking forward to partaking in blueberry season,” another woman wrote. “We have all seen wasted sunflowers in the field during our visits and were always baffled how someone could be so mindless and wasteful with something so beautiful.”

For more information about Southern Hill Farms in Clermont, click here.

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