Labor Day Sunflower project back in Knoxville

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After taking a four-year hiatus, the Labor Day Sunflower project is back in Knoxville. The community came together on Monday to build the work of art.

Ashley Wagstaffe, the Art Director of the project, said sunflowers remind her of home. “Sunflowers have been my favorite flower since I was a child and the first flower I planted.”

This year, she helped plant hundreds to create the Labor Day Sunflower project at the Knoxville Botanical Garden. Although, she says the ones from her house weren’t able to make the trip.

“I planted a lot around my house too and a groundhog ate all of mine,” Wagstaffe laughed.

Dozens of people and organizations were able to watch their flowers grow, including students from South Doyle Middle School.

“Someone gave us these seeds to plant and put them in this art piece,” said Haru Sauer whose in 7th grade.

13-year-old Petra Brown added, “just the other day before they cut them, I was walking through the breezeway and I saw them in the planter boxes, they were really pretty.”

Now, these 7th graders are seeing their work come full circle and more people brought their sunflowers to add to the piece.

“It’s symbolically when they bring a sunflower,” said Jerry Moll, who founded the project 8 years ago. “It represents their work for the year.”

For Moll, this year’s Sunflower project is honoring a friend, “The project is dedicated to Matt Goodwin this year who was one of the central people in the project.”

Goodwin recently died but was an essential member of the original Labor Day Sunflower Project. Moll said he was all about building up the community.

Now, when Wagstaffe sees a sunflower it reminds her of community. “I think even this year it means a little bit more to me because of COVID and to me, it represents a little bit of hope too.”

The project will be displayed for the next two weeks. Then, the seeds from those sunflowers will be harvested and used for next year’s project.

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