Pioneering Sunflower Oil

– FFF sunflowers at the Suikerterrein in Groningen. – Photo on the left by Stefan Helfferich, on the right by Yeva Swart.

We believe that for true sustainable change, it’s necessary and important to initiate dialogues and work with all those involved in creating a more biodiverse landscape. For that very reason education is one of the core values of FFF.
We particularly appreciate working together with educational programs like Terra MBO in Groningen, one of our long term collaborators. Students are curious, critical and insightful. They often have unique perspectives and there is a great joy to be found in sharing our knowledge with younger generations.

Last year with their help we grew the very first sunflowers for our sunflower oil in the North of Netherlands.
Our belief was, and is, that these sunflowers will serve as an important source of nectar and pollen for insects during the summer, until they finish blooming and are ready for oil pressing. What makes oil-sunflowers so fantastic for pollinators is the fact that– unlike their ornamental counterparts– they offer high amounts of pollen.

In the Netherlands the production of sun flower oil is non-existent; we were entering uncharted waters.
We approached small scale farmers outside the Netherlands, spoke with different seed cultivators and eventually chose a sunflower breed that would do well in Dutch circumstances and had a high oil content.
Then finally, when the soil was warm enough, we began sowing.

– Students at work. – Photo on the left by Terra MBO, photo on right by Stefan Helfferich.

For both the Terra- students and us, this process became a journey of learning, innovativeness and, of course, trial and error.
Early on we had decided to include different study programs from Terra, to emphasise the importance of circularity and interconnectedness of agriculture, biodiversity, flower cultivation and cosmetics.
We were pleased and hopeful to see that this project appealed to so many different students.

We ended the growing season with a day full of workshops. Our purpose was to engage students with the broad range of possibilities that flowers offer us and encourage them to broaden their horizons. Introducing them to Claudy Jongstra’s work on natural dyeing, the pressing of sunflower oil from sunflowers they harvested themselves and making their own perfumes from essential oils distilled from FFF cultivations, gave them this chance.

We would like to share that experience with you via this video. 

Created by Fedde Hoekstra.

We’re excited about collaborating with Terra this year again.

Special thanks to Sjoerd Pool, Stefan Helfferich, Christien Beukelaar, Claudy Jongstra, Yeva Swart, Robert van de Leur, Monic Jongstra, Annette Heuben, Luna Fay, and Dale Horeczy.