Minister teams up with farmer to sow 'Field of Hope' to raise money for charity

A farmer has cut out the word "Hope" in a field the size of four football pitches brimming with hundreds of thousands of sunflowers.

Claire Pollock of Ardross Farm in Fife undertook the ambitious task to create a maze in a stunning sea of yellow flowers on the banks of the Firth of Forth at the behest of Church of Scotland minister Douglas Creighton.

Field of Hope
Field of Hope

He said his congregation wanted to recognise the promise of better days ahead and the "Field of Hope" is a "spectacular" celebration of the amazing community spirit that people across the East Neuk of Fife showed one another during the COVID-19 lockdown.

It is officially opening on Saturday (Sept4) at 10.30am and people will be asked to pay an entry fee of £5 per person or £15 for a family ticket with all the proceeds donated to good causes.

Mr Creighton, minister of East Neuk Trinity Church linked with St Monans, said local charities have struggled to fundraise over the last 18 months and the congregation and the Pollock family want to support them so they can continue helping people most in need.

Rev Douglas Creighton
Rev Douglas Creighton

Explaining the idea behind the project, he said: "Hope is at the heart of the Christian message and the Church is built on hope, even in the darkest of times.

"It has been a grim 18 months for many and we wanted to mark the end of the lockdown with something really spectacular and who doesn't love sunflowers?

"They are very bright and cheery and look to one another as they follow the sun around.

"During the lockdown, Christians turned to God and Christ the Son for inspiration and hope while supporting one another and their neighbours.

"Focusing on the Parable of the Sower, the idea is if we plant good things in fertile ground then it will grow and become something really fruitful."

Mr Creighton will open the "Field of Hope" with a short dedication service, haybales are being brought in for people to sit on and refreshments are available for purchase at Ardross Farm Shop.

He said the project is linked to a wider community initiative which saw pupils at three local primary schools gifted pots of seeds to grow sunflowers in their homes and gardens.

"Sunflowers are happy flowers and we wanted to spread some much-needed cheer as far and wide across the parish as possible," added the minister who is a former primary school headteacher.

"Seeds were also given to people who planted them in local parks and sunflowers are now in full bloom which is great to see."

Claire Pollock
Claire Pollock and her sister Nikki Storrar

Mr Creighton said the congregation would also be launching a new intergenerational project called the Really Wild Welly Church in the "Field of Hope" on Saturday at 10.30am.

It is aimed at encouraging people of all ages to seek a fresh appreciation of God's creation and will be held outdoors once a month.

God's creation

The minister said the idea was conceived during the lockdown when church buildings were closed and services streamed online.

"It is an opportune time to launch this new form of worship outside ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November," explained Mr Creighton.

"As we enjoy the bees, ladybirds and wild flowers, we all need to think about ways of better looking after God's creation.

"Our hope, generally, is that these community projects show people that church is much more than just gathering in a traditional building on a Sunday morning."

Field of joy

Ms Pollock, 30, who runs Ardross Farm near Elie with her mother Fiona, and older sisters Nikki Storrar, 38, and Tara Clark, 34, said she was delighted to sow the "Field of Hope".

"After everything we have all been through, I thought it was a great idea to try and give people a sense of hope for the future.

"This field near our farm shop is around 1.5 hectares, the size of nearly four football fields, and hundreds of thousands of sunflowers have been planted.

"It did not take that long because we use a method of direct drilling whereby we do not plough and the seeds are sowed directly into last year's stubble.

"We employ sustainable farming methods because we are really trying to focus on soil structure and soil health and it is the same type of drill that the television presenter Jeremy Clarkson uses on his farm in the south of England."

Spreading joy

Ms Pollock's family have farmed in the East Neuk of Fife for generations and take pride in producing 40 varieties of traditionally grown vegetables and putting the welfare and happiness of their grass-fed beef herd above all else.

She went on: "We work closely with the RSPB and every year we sow wild flowers, including sunflowers, to try and help ground nesting birds and other pollinators.

"People really like sunflowers and for the last five to six years we have been planting strips of them to spread some joy around the area.

"But we could have never imagined anything on this scale until Douglas came along and suggested it and we thought ‘this is fantastic because we know what the reaction to our tiny little strips is normally like'."

Sunflower maze Fife
Entry money will be donated to local charities

Mr Creighton said people who attend the Really Wild Welly Church opening of the "Field of Hope", will be invited to take part in the church's weekly online Teatime Together family event, which features games, stories, songs and crafts, on Wednesday's at 5.30pm.

The "Field of Hope" will be open most weekends from 10am-4pm until the end of the flowering season.

Donate to East Neuk Trinity Church