Last year's flood was a catastrophe for the residents of High River. Not only were many left homeless but the soil in the community was damaged by chemicals and toxins that were deposited. A new plan is underway to plant sunflowers to help purify the damaged soil.
Every mailbox in High River will be receiving sunflowers seeds to help with soil purification. These plants use a process called phytoremediation to draw in the toxic waste. The waste travels away from the soil and goes directly into the plant. After the sunflowers have completed their mission, they must be thrown away since they will be toxic. Of course, the seeds from the flowers must not be consumed.
This is the same method that was used following hurricane Katrina in 2005. In New Orleans, the soil was damaged and residents were growing sunflowers as a remediation treatment. Once the sunflowers have absorbed the chemicals and toxins that were left behind in the soil, they will keep these wastes inside the flower. The toxins aren't able to leach out following the absorption.
While most species of plants aren't able to absorb the heavy metals and toxins found in the ground following a flood, sunflowers have this special magic. Due to their rapid growth and large biomass, they are able to grow by isolating the waste and chemicals that are absorbed.
The High River United Church is organizing this project and so far it has surpassed the 4,000 seed packets required to fill up all the mailboxes in the town of High River. Approximately 18,000 packets of sunflower seeds have been collected so far. As a result, other communities that have been affected by the flood will also receive packets of sunflower seeds in the mail.
If you have any worries about the soil quality in your yard or garden, you may want to consider planting sunflowers seeds as well. Not only do they purify the soil naturally but they are beautiful yellow flowers that are sure to put a smile on your face.