Sunflowers, the sweet sentiment of a young farmer who brings joy to isolated people

When 11-year-old Bella McLachlan tried her hand at growing giant sunflowers, the results were a huge hit.

In what started as a single packet of sunflower seeds from her local nursery, it’s now become a side hustle for Bella, who sells the seeds in the southwest region of WA.

Bella said it was her father who gave her the idea to harvest the seeds and sell them at a roadside market stall in Bridgetown.

Bella’s sunflower seeds in a market stall. (ABC Southwest: Georgia Hargreaves)

“They’re pretty hardy…just plant them in a sunny spot and water them, and that’s about it,” she said.

A young girl holding a packet of sunflower seeds.
Bella grows her sunflowers on the farm in Galloway Springs. (ABC Southwest WA: Georgia Hargreaves )

It seems word spread about Bella’s Sunflower Seeds when a company placed an order for over a hundred packets.

Regenerative agriculture company Dirty Clean Food purchased 100 packets of giant sunflower seeds from Bella and donated them to people who have self-isolated due to COVID-19.

Dirty Clean Food’s general manager, Sophie Lanyon, said the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and they have been inundated with messages of gratitude.

“We were looking to set up what we call ‘isolation kits’. We saw [they] were making sunflower seeds and we thought ‘what a great gift,'” Ms. Lanyon said.

“So we thought it was both an opportunity to support a young woman in business and an opportunity to offer our customers something to brighten their time and let them know we’re thinking of them.”

Close up view of a sunflower.
“Sunflowers also play an important role in soil health and phosphorus enhancement,” Ms. Lanyon said.(ABC Southwest: Georgia Hargreaves)

Bella said she felt good knowing that her seeds made people smile.

Each of the giant sunflowers contains between 300 and 500 seeds and removing them by hand is labor intensive.

giant sunflower sunflower story
This variety of giant sunflower has about 500 seeds. (Provided: Suzie McLachlan)

Suzie McLachlan said the process took hours, but was a valuable learning experience for her daughter.

“Since moving to the country a year ago, the children have been exposed to such a diverse and different way of life, and have had opportunities that [they] never, never had…if we were back in town,” Ms. McLachlan said.

“And the sunflowers, they’re just beautiful.”

A roadside stand.
Raquel Johnson owns the farm in Galloway Springs, where Bella sells her sunflower seeds. (ABC Southwest WA: Georgia Hargreaves )