Bunches of sunflowers will be sold throughout Taranaki this weekend to raise money for the Rural Support Trust.

The radiant flowers will be sold by Lions club volunteers, with the proceeds helping support rural people throughout times of hardship.

This summer has been particularity hard for farmers with the lack of rain leading to a drought being declared on December 23 in parts of the North Island including Taranaki.

Dairy farmers have been forced into drying off their herd early and even getting rid of stock due to no feed options.


Okato dairy farmer and Rural Support Trust facilitator Will Fleming has planted sunflower seeds around the edges of his maize crops on his Hampton Rd property near Okato for the fundraiser.

Will says this year he tested out a variety of smaller headed sunflower varieties called music box which came in a range of around four different colours as well as the more traditional larger headed sunflowers.

"We have got quite a few volunteers who will help us pick them."

Will says many volunteers will be working all over the region to sell them starting on Friday night. The money raised will go towards the trust's operational costs. Taranaki Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Marcia Paurini says around $2000 was raised last year and this year they hoped to double that amount.

Marcia says it is the second year the fundraiser has been held and it was a lovely idea.

She says it is a busy time for the trust, with facilitators gearing up to offer farmers help through the Rural Assistance Programme.

The trust is also holding a series of drought discussion workshops which offer farmers support and information. Trust facilitators are situated throughout the region and offer mental wellness support as well as practical farm skills.

Marcia says selling sunflowers was a wonderful way to highlight the important role of the trust as well as put a smile on peoples faces.


"People's hearts just open when they see a sunflower."

For help from the Rural Support Trust call 0800 787 254.