Like many of you, we feel the weight of the crimes against humanity being perpetrated on the people of Ukraine. We often feel helpless, and that does not sit well with Vermonters.Vermont Plants Sunflowers for Ukraine
Early in the spring, when my Vermont neighbor plowed space for his vegetable garden along our shared border, I told him I knew what I was going to plant on my side of the line.
The early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine left most of the world feeling helpless. We gave to relief agencies. We prayed. We displayed the Ukrainian flag–and its colors, blue and yellow–proudly.
And we planted sunflowers. The national flower of Ukraine has been part of the country’s culture for centuries. Sunflower seeds are among the nation’s major exports. Together, Ukraine and Russia are the world’s greatest exporters of sunflower seeds and oil.
Ironically, the two countries have much in common–economically, historically, culturally, linguistically–except peace. Yet sunflowers are a symbol of peace, in the world and between the two countries.
This year, it seems sunflowers are everywhere, especially in Vermont. Early this spring, Vermont Plants Sunflowers for Ukraine urged its neighbors to plant them. Soon I added their packets to the ones I bought at the garden store.
Today, with the flowers in full bloom, information desks run by the Vermont Agency of Transportation sport small signs telling visitors how the agency is joining in the effort. WCAX out of Burlington tells the story here.
Next year perhaps peace will return to Ukraine. Perhaps there will be no need to plant these seeds of protest.
But as a symbol of joy, hope, and beauty, the sunflower will have a home in my garden for years to come.