Sunflower Farm Warns Guests, ‘Keep Your Clothes On’

by Pelican Press
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The signs that dot Sam Wilson’s family farm southwest of London carry an unusual warning for visitors seeking an Instagram-worthy photo amid the endless rows of golden sunflowers.

“No Public Nudity.”

When the notoriously gray and soggy weather cooperates, as it has in recent weeks, tourists flock to Sam’s Sunflowers, part of Stoke Fruit Farms, to take part in a quintessential British summer activity: flower picking. But a rash of guests baring it all for the cameras earlier this summer led Mr. Wilson, 38, part of the third generation of his family to run the farm, to plant the signs and turn to social media to remind guests about the rules of play.

“Reminder to all we are a family area and please keep your clothes on in the sunflowers!,” the farm, located near Portsmouth on England’s southern coast, said on its Facebook page earlier this month. “We are having an increase of reports of naked photography taking place and this must not happen during our public sessions please!”

Hundreds of people left comments, mostly delighted and bemused, about the situation. (“Darn it, my plans have been scuppered,” one user lamented. “Where exactly is this farm?” another wrote. “Asking for a friend obviously.”)

Generally, photos are encouraged. Mr. Wilson even has props ideal for a photo shoot strewn across his fields, including a grand piano, a bathtub and a tractor. The flowers — golden, towering and elegant — are the perfect backdrop. Mr. Wilson’s farm has lots of them, about 2 million, making it easy to hide and take some risqué photos among these symbols of warmth, love and happiness.

“They obviously make people want to take their clothes off,” Mr. Wilson said.

The nudity isn’t new, but this year, it has been happening more often, in some cases where young children could see.

“We’ve always had people come to the sunflowers and do risqué photos shoots and things,” Mr. Wilson said. “It’s just about respect for other people around, people of all ages. We’re a family attraction.”

The signs and warnings on social media are working, Mr. Wilson said.

“We have had a busy week, and people have been very respectful of our plea for no public nudity,” he said, adding that there had been an increase in requests for private sessions to allow for photo shoots that include nudity.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sunflowers have served as an inspiration before. In 2003, Helen Mirren starred in “Calendar Girls,” a British film based on a true story, about a group of middle-aged women who pose for a nude calendar to raise money for blood cancer research. Sunflowers featured prominently in the photos.

“I think it’s very funny,” said Patricia Stewart, 74, one of the original Calendar Girls, whose idea it was to create the monthly guide. The Calendar Girls have raised about $7 million for Blood Cancer U.K. in the past two decades, according to the organization’s website.

For nature lovers who promise to not go topless, the window to take a picture among Mr. Wilson’s sunflowers is about to end. The farm was open on Monday, according to the website, but it usually closes in the middle of August.



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