PRATTVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - There’s a secret hiding among the sunflowers at the home of a central Alabama family, but to see it you’ll have to look down with the same view as the intense Alabama summer sun.
Thankfully, homeowner Laura Brown has no problem telling you all about it, if you ask. And it’s actually helping her raise money for a good cause.
Brown has several passions in life: Family, football, and a focus on raising money to support cancer research. She’s celebrating all three on about 40 acres of earth she’s loved her whole life.
“In the early 1980s, my family moved out here,” she recalled. “This property and house is home to me, and there is no place like home.”
In her formative years, Brown suffered the death of her father. She was just 12. At 25, she lost her mother. With their passing, the land they owned was split among the surviving family.
“Luckily we were able to take care of it,” Brown said. Then, three years ago, she and her husband realized one of her dreams. They bought up all of the property from her siblings and set about reinventing her childhood home for her own family.
“The ability to raise my children out here in my childhood home has always been a dream of mine because we are continuing to create wonderful memories and I am able to share my childhood with my children,” she said.
As her own children bloom in the dirt where she came of age, another tradition started by her father and continued by her husband helped spark something that’s all their own.
“My husband decided to plant sunflowers and corn in the field, but the sole purpose was for bird hunting,” Brown said. “My father started bird hunts out here when I was growing up, so I guess my husband is carrying on that tradition.”
It’s hard to hide sunflowers. People are drawn to those mesmerizing big, yellow petals.
“It drew so much attention and people started pulling over to look,” she stated, “so then we came up with the name Sunflowers Fighting Cancer.”
So annually, the Browns plant their sunflowers for people to enjoy, asking only for a donation that goes to the American Cancer Society and Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. They’ve raised more than $1,000 for each of the last three years.
Sunflowers bloom from the middle of summer through early fall and can pop out of the ground boasting several colors.
“We are huge Auburn fans, just as both our parents were,” Brown said. “Because my husband loves to challenge himself to do more, he made a goal to try to make an “AU” in the field by using red/orange sunflowers. Well, he made it happen so we had to share it with others.”
Looking down on the patch from above, you’ll find the outline of the Auburn University logo among the thousands of flowers.
“Creating more wonderful memories while sharing my childhood memories with my family and children is so special to me because it helps me keep my parents in my heart and memory, she said, repeating that phrase again, "there just really is no place like home.”
“We want to share beauty, happiness, and all the love that this property has with our friends and community.”
If you’d like to see the sunflowers, you can visit while the flowers are still in bloom. The address is 1653 Hwy 14 West in Prattville.