How a 'Zombie Apocalypse' of Selfie-Takers Turned a Sunflower Farm Into Pure Mayhem

How a 'Zombie Apocalypse' of Selfie-Takers Turned a Sunflower Farm Into Pure Mayhem

In this week's installment of "this is why we can't have nice things" comes the story of a family's nice idea to earn a bit of extra money turning into mayhem.

The Bogle family owns a sprawling farm, Bogle Seeds, of around 1.4 million sunflowers and other plants in Hamilton, Ontario. Three years ago, they had a great idea: knowing how photogenic the flowers are, they opened the farm to visitors at a rate of $7.50 per adult, which generated some extra income. This year, they hired a staff of eight people and rented porta-potties in anticipation of the crowds. They noted that in the first week, their parking lot never saw over about 100 cars at a time, though they had a steady flow of visitors from around the world. Then came July 28.

On that fateful day, a few pictures from the farm that had gone viral on Instagram caused a mammoth influx of visitors, starting well before sunrise. By the afternoon, cars were parking over a kilometer away and the police had been called, as it was clear the situation was out of hand. People were walking into the fields without paying, the mass of cars caused several accidents and close calls, and some visitors threatened to fight the staff when they asked them to leave. By 2 p.m., police had shut down the farm and the road near it, as the estimates put the number of cars at the site around 7,000. Brad Bogle said it was like "a zombie apocalypse." After a few days of putting up signs indicating the permanent closure to photo tourists and warding off trespassers, the situation is back under control, but the extent of the damage to the delicate flowers won't be clear until harvest time in the fall. For now, Marlene Bogle has stationed herself at the end of the driveway, yelling "we're closed forever!" at the cars that continue to stop. 

Lead image by Skitterphoto, used under Creative Commons.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Social Media is a necessary evil but I wish there we're certain standards that everyday human beings could follow with respecting the environment and other peoples property. That and the whole sheeple mentality, nobody can just be creative anymore, "I HAVE TO HAVE THAT EXACT SAME LOOK"

There's a sunflower field in my area. People generally behave. But, you always get that handful of people that don't know how to behave as "No Picking..." signs go unheeded. I used to hate the whole permit structure. Now, I see why they're necessary. It'd be cool if the Bogles charged a premium for a guided photo tour with hefty deposits. You get that deposit back only with stellar behavior.

I see this sort of stuff in some photography groups I am in. All these photographers wanting to be trendy with sunflower shoots, and asking where they can find them, how easy it is to sneak in and if anyone has been caught. It makes me angry that this nice gesture possibly ruined their livelihood, all for the sake of some trendy photos. Granted, they did say it was a pay to enter situation, but people need to be courteous and considerate when shooting on someone elses property.

I thought this was one of those "joke" posts as I read it (and laughed)... sadly it seems not.

<In this week's installment of "this is why we can't have nice things"> isn't that the truth? lol

I literally have a folder in my Google Drive communal/friends folder, called "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" lol...

Ego is evil. I always review a potential employees social media. A few selfies? Fine, fine. Constant selfies? You have no place on my set. The job goes to the next person.

If it's not their stuff, they just don't care...sad. If I go somewhere to photograph something, I try to leave it like I was never there.

okay, opening it up in the first place was just asking for trouble. a staff of 8 is nowhere near enough for something like a large farm.

I have a little sympathy for these people, but not as much as I have for the farmers in my area who are dealing with large crowds like this, when they never even said "come take photos here and give us money" People here were trampling all over their fields without ever being offered the opportunity, or even asking permission.

Whoever that first person was to get that pic was lucky, now, no one can get it.