PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2012 and while it should still give you a great overview of the experience, it may also contain some outdated information. Please be sure to visit their website so the most up-to-date information.
2018 UPDATE: This year, Sunflowers for Wishes will be held from July 21st – 29th. See the Sunflowers for Wishes website for the latest information and check out the post below from 2012 for general information on the annual fundraising event!
We are so excited to have a guest post today from Jodie at Love Them Madly. Jodie is a Connecticut Mom of two boys who blogs about everything from fun adventures with her family to inspiring arts & crafts projects to delicious recipe ideas. One of my favorite recent posts of hers inspired me to get back in the groove and finish up my kid’s first year photo album. She has a great blog and we are so excited to have her do a post on our site today. So check out her post, then check out her site. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you Mandy and Shawna for welcoming me to Out and About Mom. I love hearing about the adventures you take with your families and I’m thrilled to share one of my family’s adventures with your readers.
A single sunflower is delightful.
This is just what Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, Connecticut figured out in 2003, after planting an acre of sunflowers to attract customers to its ice cream stand. It worked, yet after nine days of blooming, the sunflowers wilted and were harvested for cattle feed. A few months later, Duane Button found a better use for the sunflowers when he received a mass mailing from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In a moment’s glance at what others might toss aside as “junk mail,” Sunflowers for Wishes was born.
Since 2004, the Button Family has dedicated acres of farmland to growing sunflowers. In just eight years, Buttonwood Farms has raised over half a million dollars by selling $5 bouquets of sunflowers, note cards, t-shirts and hayrides, making countless wishes happen for children in Connecticut with life-threatening medical conditions.
As a long time wish granter for Make-A-Wish® Connecticut, this year marked my family’s 4th visit to see the sunflowers which you can read about here.
Buttonwood Farms is located in rural Griswold, Connecticut, about an hour’s drive from the Hartford area, and close to Mystic, CT casinos and RI beaches. Buttonwood has a great ice cream stand you can visit from March through October, though the sunflowers are only in bloom until July 29th.
The farm is easy to find, either using GPS or directions from the farm’s website. If you visit during sunflower season, you can’t miss the bustling parking lot amid the farmland. We arrived during what I imagine is a peak time — Saturday at 4:00 p.m. on opening day — but we found a parking spot quickly in the large lot.
From the lot, the ice cream stand is easy to spot, with a visible (but fast-moving) line.
To the left is the gazebo where the sunflower sales happen.
I suggest starting at the far right corner of the parking area, close to the road, with the hayride and sunflower fields, then circle back for ice cream and to pick up your sunflowers before heading home.
If you’ve had a long ride, you’ll be happy to find these just opposite the hayride loading area.
The tractor drawn hayrides run daily from 11 am – dusk, July 21st to 29th (except in inclement weather). First, stop at the big white tent to get your tickets (or a token really), and pick up a brochure which will guide you through the various sunflower fields.
I’m not sure how these prices compare to other hayrides, but remember 100% of the proceeds go to Make-A-Wish Connecticut.
The token table also has a few basic refreshments available.
Your kids will notice the adorable cow train, and the fact that SOME adults are going on it. YOLO – you only live once!
We opted for the hayride, a 3/4 mile ride through cow pastures and 4 acres of the sunflower fields. Our ride lasted about 20 minutes and included two stops. First, a chance to feed the cows with some hay from our wagon.
You may want to have wipes or antibacterial gel handy. My guy got licked, to his utter delight.
Second stop was in the fields.
It’s a lovely view. Don’t fret if the sunflowers are not completely facing you; the ride is almost over and its easy to access other parts of the fields once you get off the hayride. If you decide against the hayride, you can also enter here to explore these fields, or check the brochure for the other fields down the road.
Bring everyone a camera or be ready to share. It’s hard to resist.
You’ll see the sunflowers seem to shed a lot of pollen powder. Be careful to keep the yellow stuff from getting all over you, especially if you have allergies.
Once you’ve taken enough pictures, its dairy bar time.
The menu of ice cream flavors is massive and you can find descriptions here, including the traditional and more unique flavors like Butter Brickle (sweet buttery flavor with butter brickle candies), Jungle George (made with real bananas, walnuts, and chocolate chips) and Forbidden Silk Chocolate (rich chocolate ice cream made with cocoa powder from Holland, very dark and rich for chocolate lovers).
This year I sampled chocolate and white chocolate chip, both creamy and delicious, and a red raspberry sorbet cooler (not bad if you are lactose intolerant).
I’ve never seen it anywhere else and it’s crunchy and yummy.
Don’t leave without making a quick final stop at the gazebo to pick up some sunflowers or souvenirs to bring home. They should last about five days to a week, as long as you give them lots of fresh water.
Make-A-Wish® Connecticut grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. To donate, volunteer or find out more, please visit CT.wish.org.
For an awesome craft you can do with (or without!) your little ones using your summer photographs, visit my blog, Love Them Madly, today.
Jodie Sadowsky grew up in Avon and now lives in West Hartford with her high school sweetheart/husband Scott and their two sons, ages 3 and 6. She blogs about their adventures at Love Them Madly.
473 Shetucket Turnpike, Griswold, Connecticut
Get directions here:
Dates and Hours (updated for 2016):
- Friday, July 23 – Sunday, July 31
- Ice Cream stand:
- Open March 1st – October 31st
- Current hours are: Monday – Friday, 11:30 am to 9:00 pm; Saturday – Sunday, 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
- Hours may change throughout the season so check their site or call (860) 376-4081 for the latest information.
Event Costs (2012 rates):
- Hayrides and Cow Train rides:
- Rides cost $5
- Children under 2 are FREE, but must be accompanied by an adult
- All proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation
- Sunflower bouquets are $5 and the proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation
- Ice cream, hot dogs, soft drinks, and chips are available at the farm. Prices vary.
- Sunflower bouquet, hayride and cow train ride sales all benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation.
- 3/4ths of a mile through cow pastures and 4 acres of the sunflower fields in bloom
- All proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation
- In case of inclement weather please call ahead for our hayride schedule
- Hayrides will not go out if it is raining or if the fields ae too wet
- Cow train rides are also available
- The farm has an ice cream stand. Get more information on the stand here.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Bring cash or check for the sunflowers, rides and snacks
- Bring cash, check or Visa credit card for the ice cream
- Bring a stroller or baby carrier for the little ones if you plan to explore the sunflower fields. A jogging stroller is recommended.
- Restrooms are available in the port-a-potties on site
- The farm has a large parking area that can accommodate campers and RV’s
Time is running out! Don’t forget to enter our GIVEAWAY for a $25 Price Chopper Gift Card!
Tomorrow, Shawna has a new PYO adventure.
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