/Sunflowers grow for a good cause
Easton Clement stands with the sunflowers he grew this year, their height delighting the five-year-old gardener. /Submitted photo

Sunflowers grow for a good cause

Easton Clement grew sunflowers this year, documenting their growth with photos, before selling them roadside with some proceeds benefitting the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy. /Submitted photo

By Sue Tiffin

Back in April when Easton Clement, then in junior kindergarten, was learning at home, his teachers Jessica Foulds and Amber Card taught his class about growing seeds and watching plants grow. That lesson grew into a passion for gardening and a loving donation of $120 to the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy for five-year-old Easton.

“One of the activities for online school was a seed journal,” said Easton’s mom, Amanda. “Other than our daffodils in the gardens, nothing was growing. When I decided to plant a veggie garden, I asked what he wanted to grow and his first thing was sunflowers. So we started them inside in an egg carton so he could see them growing.”

Easton and Amanda experimented with the flowers, trying to grow a few in sand, and planting the rest in their garden.
“We got them out in the garden and they grew to be 11 feet tall,” said Amanda. “There’s probably close to 100 blooms on these five plants, so I keep cutting them, bringing them in the house because they’re so pretty.”
Amanda said the growth of the plants was remarkable, and as they grew, she began capturing the changes in the plants with photos of Easton in front of them.
“We kept documenting every week because they just seemed to grow so huge,” said Amanda. “Our grandmother last year planted [a different variety] and each stalk had one flower on the top, and it was a really big sunflower. These ones grew really huge but there’s actually only five sunflowers growing – five plants in the garden and each plant has probably 30 blooms on it. We couldn’t believe how many actual flowers grew on one plant. It was kind of remarkable how they grew so big.”

Toward the end of summer, Amanda asked Easton if he might want to sell some of the flowers, donating some of the money earned to a cause of his choice. After some research, Easton – who loves animals – chose the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy.
“Since he’s so into turtles, reptiles and animals in general, rehabilitating animals, he liked that idea,” said Amanda.

At the end of August, Easton sold sunflowers for $3 each, with $1 from those sales going toward the charity. Family and friends – even someone passing by on a motorcycle –  stopped by at his roadside stall set up on grandparents Kirk and Carolyn Bull’s property, with many people donating a few extra dollars toward his efforts, resulting in a $120 donation to the conservancy.

“We’ve had fun with it,” said Amanda. “He’s enjoying going out and doing things in the garden with me, so it’s been good. It was a good learning experience to learn to give away a little bit instead of keeping it all for himself, and he’s definitely enjoying watching these things grow – so am I.”