35/52: Sussex Sunflower Maze

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This week’s assigned lyrics: “She blinded with me science.”  (Agricultural science.)

-From Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”

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The Sussex Sunflower Maze in Augusta, NJ is a place where Mother Nature surely dazzles with her beauty.

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With more than a million sunflowers blooming over 50 acres, it is the largest sunflower maze on the East Coast.W35sunflowers-4-web

The maze opens in August and usually runs through September, its duration weather-dependent. It was pleasantly uncrowded on an early Friday morning, with maybe half a dozen people (all of whom were photographers) roaming its three miles of paths.W35sunflowers-9301web

Liberty Farm, which owns the maze, grows the sunflowers in cooperation with New Jersey Audubon Society’s SAVE (Support Agriculture Viability and the Environment) program.  The program buys the harvested seeds from the farmers and then sells them here in New Jersey for birdseed, thus reducing the state’s reliance on distant farms.

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In addition to a lowered carbon footprint, there are other environmental benefits. New Jersey Audubon Society uses the profits from the birdseed sales to provide grassland habitat for wild nesting birds, allowing threatened species to rebound.

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The sunflowers also attract lots of bees and other pollinators. Their busy buzzing was the only sound that filled my ears. Later, as families began to arrive, the enthusiastic shrieks of children carried over the stalks.W35sunflowers-4-9314webSince the fields are not irrigated, this year’s crop of sunflowers range from 4 to 6  feet in height, a bit on the shorter side because of the season’s dry spells. Still, the view of the landscape is nothing short of magnificent.

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Each year, the maze owners cut a different aerial-view message into the field. The map above shows this year’s message: “Amazing Sussex County.” Ah-mazing.  Get it? Haha

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It’s true, though. The Sussex Sunflower Maze inspires awe and appreciation and  happiness.

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If you visit, don’t forget your sunglasses (like I did). On a sunny day, the light can be pretty…well…blinding.  Here’s me squinting:

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It’s a day trip well worth the drive and admission, which is $10 for adults, $6 for kids (ages 4 to 12), and free for the wee ones under three. Leashed pets are welcome, too.

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