DENVER (KDVR) — Wildflowers are blooming, and while it’s not quite corn maze season, August and September bring the peak blooming season for sunflowers.
Near Denver International Airport, fields of seemingly endless sunflowers have been growing since spring, waiting to be admired before they are harvested in September.
But why would one of the world’s busiest airports use its land for farming crops like sunflowers? DIA spokesperson Stephanie Figueroa told FOX31 it’s “in the airport’s best interest to find the highest and best use of our property while supporting our primary mission as an airport.”
According to DIA, a high non-aeronautical revenue helps to lower operating costs for the airport and airline partners. That’s why some land belonging to DIA is leased to businesses like car rental companies and farmers.
Farmers rent land from DIA and use it to rotate multiple crops, including sorghum, corn, winter wheat, sunflowers and more.
The farmers use a technique called dry farming, which means they do not irrigate. But with so much rain falling in Colorado this year, Figueroa said those crops are thriving.
The sunflower fields, located around the airport on acres south or north of the terminal complex, are part of a long history of farming on that land. Before the city of Denver annexed the land to build an airport there, it was used primarily for agriculture.
“Many of the farmers who now manage airport lands were farming here before the airport was built,” Figueroa said in an email.
The farms also cut out some maintenance costs for the airport.
“The farmers also provide a valuable service in controlling the spread of noxious weeds and keeping onsite wildlife to a minimum as part of their land management,” Figueroa said.
The general public can take in views of the sunflowers from a distance. The airport’s perimeter is fenced, and there are trespassing notices in the appropriate areas, Figueroa said. The fields are owned by the airport and the general public is not allowed on airport property.
Figueroa also noted that many of the back roads and bridges in the area are impassable as some were washed out amid heavy rains, so visitors should expect a detour or two.