A family of farmers in Queensland, Australia, has grown a field of sunflowers for a beautiful cause, moving people across the country.
Lauren and Pete McNaughton, from the North Burnett region, started growing sunflowers for the first time in order to raise awareness and funds for the Stillbirth Foundation Australia—a charity dedicated to stillbirth research.
Several years ago, the couple’s best friends, Sam and Carlee Cook, lost their son, Nate, who was stillborn. In order to honour the memory of Nate, the McNaughtons grew about 42,000 flowers in “Nate’s Paddock” which covers about 3 acres of their property.
“The Sunflowers mean so much more to us than any other crop,” Lauren wrote on her Facebook post.
The McNaughtons said they were going to harvest the sunflowers and sell them for seed and oil. They will also be selling some cut flowers at local markets. All proceeds will be going towards the charity.
“It’s still kind of a taboo subject, that’s why we’re doing this just to raise awareness,” Lauren told the ABC.
According to the Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence, the rate of stillbirth in Australia is 7.4 in every 1000 births, which equates to about 2,200 families each year.
The major causes of stillbirth are infection, maternal conditions, haemorrhage, spontaneous preterm birth, and congenital abnormality. But about a quarter of stillbirths are still unexplained, which adds to the parents’ distress, according to the organisation.
Lauren said they did not tell the Cooks about what they were doing until a few weeks ago. She said they were grateful for such an act of kindness.
“They were speechless and can’t thank us enough but we say ‘we don’t need kind words. We love him and want to honour him and never forget him,'” she told the ABC.
The Queensland farmer said she didn’t expect the response she received from the local community, who kept contacting them to buy bunches of sunflowers.
“When they all came into flower, we got such a big response of people ringing and messaging, wanting to buy flowers just to put on their kitchen table,” she said.
The generosity of friends and the local community helped the McNaughtons raise more than $600 in one day.
“Everyone’s been supportive and when they found out some of the reasoning behind it they’ve all jumped on board and pledged donations,” Pete told the news broadcaster.
Lauren said the Cooks are also holding an online auction fundraiser for the cause throughout the month of May. Businesses have also supported their cause by donating a variety of goods and services, reported ABC.
“Every little bit can make a big difference,” she wrote on her Facebook post.