For Denise and Gary Jons, living on a farm is something in their blood. After all, their sons, Erick and Ethan, are the fifth generation to farm their land in Basehor. After four generations of dairy farming, the Jons are not currently milking but they do have some beef cows, pigs and calves.

“We want to instill a work ethic into our kids and help them realize that if you set your mind to a goal and work hard at it, you can achieve your goal. That doesn’t pertain to just the farm, but to life as a whole,” said Denise.

Originally purchased by Gary’s great-grandparents in 1905, the 200 acres have grown corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats and hay over the years. It’s their most recent crop of black oil sunflowers which perhaps has brought them the most pleasure. With the growth of agriculture tourism, the Jons are currently in their second year of growing sunflowers.

“We thought it would be fun to take the family pictures with (the sunflowers). Plus, the field looks really amazing in the morning sun,” Denise said.

While the Jons didn’t know anyone else planting sunflowers at the time, they had several friends who asked to take pictures of the sunflowers. People driving by the property were also stopping by to see the sunflower field as well.

This year’s nine acres of sunflowers began with a rocky start of the growing season. Originally planted in July, poor germination of the seed resulted in an undesirable and unhealthy crop of sunflowers. The Jons waited to see if more seeds would sprout, but they did not. In August, the field was replanted and this time, the sunflowers responded well to the growing conditions. This second crop ended up growing quicker than anticipated and bloomed 10 days earlier than expected.

The sunflowers were still in bloom as recently as last week, but drenching rains made visiting the fields difficult due to the mud. Because the Jons wanted to ensure that everyone had a good experience at their sunflower field, the gates were closed to visitors to ensure that vehicles didn’t get stuck.  

After the freezing temperatures that hit the area last weekend, this year’s sunflower season has come to an end. Mother Nature always has the final word.

This is the first season the Jons have been open to the public. Many sightseers from around the country passed by to look. Next year, the Jons are planning to plant another field of sunflowers along 158th Street south of State Avenue.

Beth Kornegay is a freelance writer covering news and events in the city of Basehor. If you have a story idea, email her at gabi_kansas@yahoo.com