The sunflower farmer cultivating joy in Ellis County, Texas

In the heart of Ellis County, Texas, Scott Born found his love of sunflower farming growing.

Scott Born is a farmer with a deep-rooted passion for agriculture, and is sowing more than just crops. His 4,000-acre farm, situated just east of Ferris, Texas, not only yields wheat, corn, and cotton but also something that brings smiles to faces far and wide – sunflowers.

“For me, it’s not just about farming. It’s about the joy of watching sunflowers grow and sharing that joy with others,” Born said, reflecting on his unique farming journey.

Born’s connection to farming runs deep, stemming from his childhood, where both his grandparents were farmers. Yet, he initially took a different path, earning an electrical engineering degree from Texas Tech and embarking on a career in Dallas. However, his innate love for farming never faded.

“I always had an interest in farming,” Born said. “I would grow little garden-sized plots of wheat and milo as a kid.”

This persistent calling eventually led him to rent some land in Ellis County while still holding down his engineering job in Dallas.

For nine years, Born juggled his job and farming duties, working nights, and weekends, and using vacation days, to pursue his agricultural dreams. However, he soon realized that he had to make a choice. The allure of farming proved irresistible, and he took the leap into full-time farming. He hasn’t looked back since.

Today, he tends to an assortment of crops, including wheat, corn, cotton, and sunflowers. His sunflower journey began in 2013, initially growing them for the oilseed market. In recent years, Born switched to cultivating sunflowers for the birdseed market, where the seeds must be jet-black—a preference of consumers rather than the birds themselves.

Timing is crucial in sunflower farming. Typically planted in April, they burst into bloom in June, showcasing their vibrant yellow petals for about ten days. Despite their brief moment of glory, sunflowers are known for their heat tolerance and adaptability to drought conditions, making them a resilient choice for Ellis County’s climate.

Unlike some crops, sunflowers require careful planning and contracts with buyers to ensure a market for the harvest.

“You probably shouldn’t grow them unless you have a contract with somebody and a buyer set up to begin with,” Born advised.

Farming, according to Born, is often misunderstood.

“I think a lot of people are under the misconception that farming’s a lot easier and requires a lot less knowledge and thought than it really does,” he noted.

Looking ahead, Born doesn’t envision retirement. Instead, he hopes to continue working the land, providing for his community, and appreciating the simple joy of watching sunflowers bloom.

“My hope for the future of this farm is just that I can continue to operate it as long as God allows me to,” he says, a sentiment that encapsulates his enduring dedication to farming and the land he loves.

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