As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, images of sunflowers have sprouted up across the world as a display of solidarity for Ukraine.
West Coast Seeds, a popular B.C.-based seed company, is donating sales of sunflower seeds to help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
The campaign is called ‘Sunflowers of Support’ and asks that people purchase and sow seeds of support. West Coast Seeds notes that this only applies to seed packages sold through their website.
The funds donated will go towards preparedness, relief efforts, long-term recovery, resiliency and other humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and surrounding countries, the Red Cross says.
This is similar to a campaign that West Coast Seeds ran during the beginning of the pandemic.
The seed company partnered with Dr. Bonnie Henry and We are the Northern, a Chilliwack-based marketing studio, to create a pollinator blend of cosmos flowers. Proceeds from the seed packet sales went to Food Banks Canada and a total of $225,000 was raised.
The Sunflower (sunyashniki in Ukrainian) has long been a symbol of peace for Ukraine.
In the summer of 1996, sunflowers were planted by officials at the Pervomaysk missile base in southern Ukraine to mark the removal of nuclear weapons from the country, according to an article in The Washington Post.
A 1993 encyclopedia of Ukraine states that the sunflower represents the principal oil plant in the Ukrainian economy and Ukrainian agriculture.
According to the book, ‘Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History’, sunflower oil is now the world’s fourth most popular oil (after soy, palm and rapeseed), with Argentina, Russia and Ukraine the three largest producers.
The book explains that the sunflower, “started cultivated life among the North American Indians, was taken to Europe and hybridized in Russia, and then found its way back to the States in the seed sacks of Mennonite farmers escaping Soviet pogroms.”
Sunflower seeds have also been known as a popular snack in Ukraine.
“In addition to the commercial variety, the ornamental sunflower in the villages and countryside of Ukraine has made it an unofficial national symbol,” reads the encyclopedia. “It appears as such on the cover of the Encyclopedia of Ukraine.”
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