Ford’s Field of Flowers

If you’ve walked or driven past the intersection of Mercury Drive and Michigan Avenue in the last month, you might have witnessed an ocean of bright, beautiful sunflowers. Hundreds of flowers greeted your gaze with their full blossoms, bending over the course of the day as they followed the sunlight.

But the field’s location in front of Ford Motor Company World Headquarters in Dearborn seems rather unexpected. It’s just minutes away from a freeway, shopping mall, and many stores and homes. Just how did this country field of flowers end up in the middle of our urban cityscape?

The answer is sustainable land use. Ford has taken acres of their local properties and repurposed them to serve as fields of wild flowers and grasses. According to their 2013/2014 sustainability report, they do this to give back to the environment because, “[their] activities have the potential to affect land use, nature and biodiversity, directly and indirectly”. The fields are all around Dearborn, providing shelter and food for local animals and promoting the growth of regional plants.

Signs posted near these fields indicate that it is private property and no trespassing is allowed. The sunflower field appears to be an exception. No signs are posted and sidewalks run along the streets that frame the field, so visitors could easily take a moment to enjoy the sights, listen to the hundreds of birds chirping from the field, and maybe snap a photo or two.

When exactly the field is in bloom varies. This year the field was in full bloom at the beginning of September. Last year, the field hadn’t even bloomed at the beginning of October; the sunflowers were still growing.

There’s still time to enjoy the field this year, but not for long. The sunflower stalks are starting to yellow. Certainly though, the fields will bloom again next year, when the sun starts to set a little earlier and the days grow cooler. You can always look to Ford’s sunflower fields as an indication that autumn has arrived.

Photo: Taken by Lauren Church, 9/4/2014

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