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Sunflowers in Schull will signify our growing solidarity

April 25th, 2022 10:30 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Elmer Koomans, manager of Fruit Hill Farm at Colomane, happily handing over the 5kg of sunflower seeds to Billy O’Regan.

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THOUSANDS of sunflowers are to be grown in Schull as a sign of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Billy and Denise O’Regan have come up with a unique community and charity event that will see seven nationalities come together on Saturday May 7th to plant sunflowers – the Ukraine national flower – on their family farm.

Since the decision was made to dedicate a half-acre to the growing of sunflowers, offers of support for this project have been flooding in.

The very first call Billy received was from Mike Supple, an agricultural contractor, who offered to plough and rotavate the field free of charge.

Since then, Ukrainian refugees living in Clonakilty and Schull have been in touch to ask if they can come and help with the planting.

Billy and Denise, together with their sons Bradley, Dexter and Lewis, have also signed up volunteers formerly from the Philippines, Holland, France, German, as well as England and Ireland, all of whom are inspired by the simplicity and symbolism of the project.

In fact, a bus will be laid on to transport the Ukrainian people living in the area who want to come along on the day.

Those not involved in planting the 5kg bag of seeds – which were generously donated by Fruit Hill Farm at Colomane – are offering to make teas, coffees and cakes for the workers and the visitors too.

This is gearing up to be a Meitheal, like the days of old, and anyone who wants to come along is more than welcome.

At the moment, the site at Gunpoint – Eircode P81F765 – is a greenfield plot, but soon it will be ‘like flour, ready for planting, from about 11am onwards,’ according to Billy.

When the sunflowers are ready for harvesting in mid-August, the site will be opened to the public once again – over a Saturday and a Sunday – so that people can come and pick their own sunflower.

Because it is such a nice thing for families to do together, Billy said they are planning to have bouncy castles on the site for the amusement of younger children.

‘There will be no collection, but people can leave a donation if they wish,’ he said, ‘and any money raised will be donated to the Ukraine relief fund.

‘All wars eventually come to an end,’ said Billy, ‘and it would be nice, in the future, if we could all say we contributed to help the Ukrainian people.’

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