Sunflowers for High River

Colin MacLean
Published on April 22, 2014

United Church Women of Canada members Joyce Bridges and Elaine Harding hold up the many packages of sunflower seeds they’ve collected at Trinity United Church. The seeds are being sent to High River, Alta, as part of a reconstruction effort by the local Sunday school. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – Sunflowers have been brightening up homes across the world for centuries.

They are widely used as decorative staples in gardens and their oils and seeds are used for cooking, feeding livestock and bioscience.

They’re basically the jack-of-all-trades in the flower world.

They even have another, more unique talent, that have made them the focus of a national seed collection campaign, which is being supported by the United Church Women of Canada on P.E.I.

Sunflowers are believed to suck dangerous lead out of contaminated soil, helping to purify it without the need for more labor-intensive methods.

It’s a practice that has its detractors, but not enough to stop disaster hit communities all over the world from using the flowers in their cleanup efforts.

Communities like High River, Alta.

Many Canadians would remember High River as the community devastated by floods about a year ago. It’s still recovering.

To help in that recovery process, the children of the High River United Church have initiated the Sunflower Project.

They are asking for Canadians to send them packages of sunflower seeds, so they can then be distributed to the people of High River. 

The UCW of Trinity United Church in Summerside has been collecting packages of seeds for a couple of weeks now, and plans to ship them out on Friday, April 25.

UCW member Elaine Burrows is planning on delivering them to colleagues from Alberta during an upcoming conference in Sydney, N.S.

Anyone who would like to donate a package of seeds can do so by Friday morning at the church’s office.

“I think it’s a good project … It’s a way of saying that we’re thinking of the people in High River,” said Elaine Harding, president of the local UCW.

A recent post on the Alberta church’s Facebook page indicated that more than 4,000 packs of seeds have been collected to date.

Canada Post has agreed to help distribute the seeds later in late May.