This summer has not been the brightest when it comes to getting social, but on the North Fork, there are some especially “sunny” spots that are family-friendly and make for spectacular photoshoots.
“People are loving our sunflower maze so far,” says Baiting Hollow resident Jeff Rottkamp, whose family owns and runs Rottkamp’s Fox Hollow Farm. "I think it’s because the sunflower is a happy flower, peaceful and photogenic.” The farm opened its new sunflower field at the end of June and it's already been a popular spot for visitors, Rottkamp, 33, says.
The farm is one of several spots on Long Island where sunflower mazes are nearing full bloom.
A LOOK INSIDE THE MAZES
At Rottkamp’s Fox Hollow Farm, after giving a sunflower maze a brief test run last year, they will be growing a total of five different fields this year in order to keep it available until October. “I’d like to keep it going as long as Mother Nature will allow,” Rottkamp says. The maze at his family’s farm varies between 2 ½ to 4 acres in size, and allows guests to wander around between stalks for $5 for visitors over 6 years old; those younger are free. As for difficulty, “you’re not going to get lost. It’s more of a pathway … just walk around and take lots of pictures," adds Rottkamp.
Another North Fork sunflower field to explore is at Sidor Farms. Owner Cheryl Sidor, 46, admits, “they are mazelike trails rather than a difficult puzzle." Charging $7 per person, the Sidor maze is free for children ages 10 and younger. All leashed animals are welcome and the field is wheelchair accessible. The 5-acre maze is expected to open Aug. 1. “The season should last through September," Sidor says.
At Pindar Vineyards, the sunflower field has been a staple since 1990.
“Seeing a sea of yellow when you pull into the winery is an amazing site," says Pindar Damianos, the 44-year-old owner and general manager. "With everything that we have had to deal with COVID-19, I hope this gives customers a chance to get some enjoyment this summer." Not really a maze per se, Pindar guests may enter the field for free and cut sunflowers to keep for $2 a stem. The field should be in bloom until the end of August, says Damianos.
Guests not only come to explore the mazes but to celebrate milestones and occasions.
Sidor says visitors often come for engagement photos, wedding shoots or prom pictures. People have also brought their pets to the fields for photo-ops. “We have had so many different kinds of animals — horses, parrots, dogs, cats, iguanas, goats, anything that is tame has come."
Rottkamp says photos aren't the only reason sunflower mazes are popular this summer.
“When we decided to do it, we didn’t expect the quarantine, the pandemic, we didn’t factor what it could mean … It’s a great place to get out of the house. It definitely allows for social distancing and in these hard times, if it can give people some peace and serenity, that’s great.”
Rottkamp’s Fox Hollow Farm: 2287 Sound Ave., Baiting Hollow; 631-727-1786, foxhollowfarm.net; open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The For Goodness Cakes Co. food truck is usually parked at the farm from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, serving a variety of baked treats like cookies, French macarons and their dippable Churro tots, as well as some gluten-free and homemade vegan options.
North Fork Sunflower Maze at Sidor Farms: 8632 Wickham Ave., Mattituck; 631-644-2200; 9 a.m. to sunset.
Pindar Vineyards: 37645 NY-25, Peconic; 631-734-6200, pindar.net; open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours on weekends July through August.
Waterdrinker Family Farm and Garden: Walk through the flowers (July through early fall) for $10; ages two and younger are free. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, clip sunflowers for $2 each; photos may be taken. Leashed pets OK; 663 Wading River Rd., Manorville; 631-878-8653, water-drinker.com.
Garden of Eve: July 25 through Aug. 23, the farm is offering a 5-acre organic sunflower field for $7.95 per person. Fee includes photo opportunities, live entertainment and more, plus one sunflower. Bouquets are an additional $5 for five stems; $10 for 12; 4558 Sound Ave., Riverhead; 631-722-8777, gardenofevefarm.com.