To be honest I had never heard of The Big Sunflower Project and I had most certainly not heard of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy before 2017.
I received an email through school about taking part – I run a primary school gardening club and I thought “Yes, why not get involved”. What a great way of combining growing something from seed and explaining how some peoples’ bodies do not grow strong because that have rare disorders. A few of the children struggled to understand fully the impact of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy (quite complex when you are only 5) but they all grasped how some people are born different and have illnesses or disabilities.
The sunflower seeds arrived in their little brown packet and were eagerly received by the gardening club children. Some of the children had not grown sunflowers before and to which ends we set about planting up one seed in a pot for each child in the club to take home and nurture. The home results were mixed! Some were forgotten and left without water, some were planted out too early and eaten by slugs, some were dug up by cats! The ones that were given care and attention grew big and strong and added a splash of colour to the children’s garden.
The remaining seeds were broadcast sown in an area that had been dug over in our wild life area. The seed were added to by a local farmer and the results were quite astounding. A whole host of sunflowers that Van Gogh would have been pleased to paint.
We subsequently harvested the ripened heads (after explaining that each seed has been formed by an individual flower – wow!) and they are drying in our poly tunnel ready for planting again next year. We will also pass some of the seeds on to other local schools and hope to raise awareness of The Big Sunflower Project for 2018.