It’s the stuff of Instagram gold: sunflowers. Almost as popular as pumpkin spice lattes in the fall, sunflowers have been having a major moment on social media lately. And for good reason, because before we get to #SweaterSeason, we have to embrace the beauty of sunflower season — which, in this area, is usually mid-August to mid-September. Not only do they make a beautiful, natural backdrop to your Instagram pictures, but in most cases, visiting a sunflower field or farm is 100% free. To save yourself the time and effort of driving aimlessly around New Jersey with the intention of locating a sunflower farm, we’ve curated some of the nearby must-visits for you. Some of these sunflowers farms start with the appeal of timeless golden beauty but offer way more than just a photo opp. A few of these farms allow you to pick-your-own flowers for your at-home bouquet and some even feature petting farms, activities for kids (like face painting), and even mazes. Keep reading for a round-up of sunflower farms to visit near Hudson County, New Jersey.
(Photo credit: @happydayfarmnj)
The History of Sunflowers
Society’s relationship with sunflowers is long and complex. If you’ve ever studied the symbology of flowers before, you might have heard that different plants and flowers (and even different colors of flowers) symbolize different things. It’s as if the giving and receiving of flowers have their own language.
For example, you might know that red roses symbolize true love, deep romance, and desire. Comparatively, yellow roses may be just as gorgeous, but their symbology is vastly different: Yellow roses tend to signify friendship. (Though historically, they first symbolized jealousy and infidelity) So, if your S/O gives you yellow roses, you may want to let them in on what their meaning is.
And roses are hardly the only flower with deep-rooted (get it?) symbology. Historically, sunflowers have been thought to symbolize adoration, loyalty, and longevity. They also have a reputation for being “happy” flowers and are given generally during joyous occasions. It makes sense right; the word “sun” is literally in their name and the sun is associated with light, joy, and brightness — all symbols of happiness.
Sunflowers are also traditionally given for the third wedding anniversary as a symbol of adoration, loyalty, and strength.
One possible explanation of why sunflowers came to mean what they do now spans back all the way to Greek mythology. The ancient Greek myth of Apollo and Clytie “explains” why sunflowers turn toward the sun — a phenomenon called heliotropism. Heliotropism is the behavior of flower buds facing east in the AM and then following the sun as the earth moves throughout the day. (Side note: Maybe if humans were heliotropic, so many of us East Coasters wouldn’t have to take vitamin D supplements or suffer from Seasonal Effectiveness Disorder.)
Anyway, back to the Greeks: Clytie was a nymph who was in love with Apollo. At the beginning of their relationship, Apollo loved her, too, but it was a short-lived romance as he fell for someone else: Leucothoe. Enraged with jealousy, Clytie tattled on Leucothoe and Apollo by going to Leucothoe’s father. He punished his daughter by ordering she be buried alive. Brutal, right? But the tragedy doesn’t end there. Clytie thought with Leucothoe out of the way that Apollo would love her again, but Apollo felt Clytie had betrayed him. The story goes that Clytie grief, wilted, and slowly died.
You might be wondering: What on Earth does this have to do with sunflowers?
Leucothoe was buried alive, but from the dirt, she grew. Into a sunflower. She loved him, even as flora, and spent her days watching him as he traveled across the sky, moving the sun across it in his chariot.
Some story, huh? Tell that at your next dinner party or Happy Hour.
Read More: Where to Go Berry Picking Near Hudson County
The Benefit of Sunflowers
Aside from the ever-fascinating Greek mythology background, sunflowers also have a lot of benefits going for them.
Typically found in trail mix or nutrition bars, sunflower seeds contain essential healthy fats and vitamins and minerals that play a role in reducing your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Sunflower seeds are particularly significant sources of both vitamin E and selenium. These antioxidants work to protect your cells against free radicals (if you’re into skincare, then you know all about that and why it’s crucial to cell turnover) and even reduces the risk of many chronic diseases.
Sunflower Farms Near Hudson County
Now that we’ve totally sold you on all the hullaballoo about sunflowers, it’s time to visit a field yourself.
Alstede Farms | 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester Township, NJ
(Photo credit: @alstedefarms)
Founded in 1982, family-owned Alstede Farms is known for its homegrown local fruits and vegetables, sunflower fields in the summer, and apple and pumpkin picking in the fall. When the sunflowers are in bloom through mid-September (and sometimes through October, depending on the weather), the giant sunflower maze is a must-visit — and while you’re there, pick up a handful of Zinnias and Cosmos — they make for a vibrant bouquet of flowers. Other activities and attractions at the farm include pony rides, a petting zoo, hayrides, homemade ice cream, brunches, food festivals, a fully stocked farm store, and more. Access to the Blooming Giants Sunflower Trail is included with an entry ticket, and picking flowers costs $2.50 per stem which you pay for when you exit. You can either bring your own shears or rent them for a refundable $20 deposit.
Brodhecker Farm | 2 Branchville Lawson Road, Newton, NJ
(Photo credit: @brodhecker.farms)
Operating since 1969, Brodhecker Farms has made it a point in the last several years to focus on sustainable farming and eco-friendly practices. The most visible example is the solar panels installed on two of the barns that generate 100% of the electricity they use throughout the year. The farm specializes in livestock supplies and food, but for the summer season, the sunflowers steal the show. The sunflowers bloomed late this year due to a dry season, and Labor Day Weekend 2022 will likely be the last weekend to visit — the owners explained that as the heads fill with seed, they tilt downwards and lose color. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, visit the farm’s Facebook page.
Dalton Farms | 676 Oak Grove Road, Swedesboro, NJ
(Photo credit: @daltonfarmsnj)
Dalton Farms is a 99-acre family-owned-and-operated farm conveniently located in southern New Jersey, just off of Route 322. With family ties to the farm extending back to 1790, the Dalton Family has been curating enjoyable fam experiences for decades. The 2022 sunflower season grand opening was officially on September 1st and there are currently tickets available through early October, assuming weather cooperates. All tickets are $12 per person and must be pre-purchased online in order to monitor the number of patrons. It’s open from 11AM to 7PM Monday to Friday and 10AM to 7PM Saturday and Sunday. You can cut your own sunflowers for $2 per stem or get 10 flowers for $10. Note that this is a spot where you’ll need to bring your own scissors/knife to cut. Weekend events include live music, food vendors, paddleboat rentals, wine tasting, and a beer garden.
See More: Alpaca Farms to Visit in New Jersey
Holland Ridge Farms | 86 Rues Road, Cream Ridge, NJ
(Photo credits: @hollandridgefarms)
Believe it or not, this is actually the biggest U-pick Tulip Farm in the entire country. It also boasts an awesome sunflower fall flower festival. This year, it opens on September 23rd and runs through October 23rd, open daily from 9AM to 6PM. Tickets will go on sale on September 7th and cost $13 for ages 3 and up. There will also be special events this year, like a Fall Food Truck Festival on 9/24 and 9/25 as well as a Fall craft & Live Music Festival and a Family Fun Columbus Day Weekend. This spot also has local food vendors, various farm animals, pony rides, merch, and more.
Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm | 2691 Monmouth Road, Jobstown, NJ
(Photo credit: @locusthall)
Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm offers a true farm experience and is open to the public as well as private events including weddings. Throughout the year, it offers different attractions and activities. Guests can enjoy hayrides, an animal farm, pick-your-own seasonal crops, and more. The market has some of the best apple cider doughnuts around, but the sunflower field that is open all throughout September is what makes the trip worth it. This year, the fall Park & pick runs from September 2nd all the way through October 30th. You can reserve a spot for $12.95 on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays — though the farm is also open on Labor Day and Columbus Day. A reservation gets you into the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, sunflower photo trails, and the corn maze. Sunflowers are $2.00 per stem.
New Jersey Sunflower Trail at Von Thun Farms | 438 Route 57 West, Washington, NJ
Nestled in a scenic area of Warren County, VonThun Farms is open for the spring, summer, and fall seasons with events and activities for the whole family. The farm market offers homegrown fruits, vegetables, and Angus beef, as well as pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, pumpkins, and of course, sunflowers. This is the last chance to go, as the sunflower trail is open daily from 10AM to 5PM only through Labor Day. Booking online tickets ahead of time is highly encouraged — and you can do so here. You also have the option to buy a U-Pick vase on site to fill up with as many flowers as you can from the designated flower-picking fields.
Sunflower Valley Farm | 366 County Road 12, New Hampton, NY
(Photo credit: Sunflower Valley Farm Facebook)
Get ready because Sunflower Valley Farm is the stuff of children’s dreams. While adult admission is $10, Kids between 5 and 12 are only $5 and those under 5 are totally free, so it’s the perfect family activity to do on the weekends. Admission includes three free sunflowers (that you get to U-pick!) and their website recommends bringing water and paper towels to wrap the sunflower stems on the trip home. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own clippers.
Food and drink are available on-site and for the kiddos, there’s a petting farm (but their site recommends calling ahead to ensure animal appearances are available the day you’re coming), face painting, and a sunflower maze complete with photo opportunities. There’s an event on September 16th from 5PM to 9PM to celebrate the end of sunflower season, and there will be music, sunflower-picking, face painting, and more. Sunflower picking typically ends mid to late September, depending on the first frost. It’s open Friday to Sunday, 10AM to 5PM.
Sussex County Sunflower Maze | 101 Route 645, Sandyston, NJ
(Photo credit: Sussex County Sunflower Maze Facebook}
Take a drive about an hour and 30 minutes from Hoboken and you will come across Sandyston, New Jersey, where the first-ever New Jersey sunflower maze lives. Once you visit Sussex once, chances are you’ll want to go back again and again. It really is that magical.
The 2022 season began on August 24th and ends on September 18th. Adult tickets are $10, children four to 12 are $6, and kids 3 and under are free for weekdays. On weekends and Labor Day, adults are $20, Kids are $10, and 3 and under are free. According to their website, dogs are welcome but should be leashed and children should always be accompanied by an adult while in the maze.
In addition to providing unlimited maze-related fun, the Sussex County Sunflower Maze is committed to sustainable farming and taking care of the environment. According to their website, they believe in no-till planting and promoting native pollinators like bees and butterflies. #EcoFriendlyWin