The most basic rule of proper tourism is to leave only footprints and take only pictures. But that rule was dreamed up well before anybody with a phone could snap a photo of an epic landscape, post it to Instagram, and have it result in thousands of photo-hunting tourists descending on the destination. Which leads us to the strange tale of Bogle Seeds, about an hour outside Toronto, and what the company owners thought would be a small way to boost income.
Bogle Seeds grows sunflowers and other plants and harvests them for their seeds, to make bird seed mixes. As that’s a niche part of the agricultural market, the farm’s owners decided to charge admission to their farm as a way to make extra money. Starting on July 20, you could wander in the fields and take selfies and photos for $7.50 a pop. It was a pretty good idea, as the fields make for a stunning vista.
Unfortunately, as the Globe And Mail explains, it got out of hand, fast:
The apocalypse arrived on Saturday, the 28th…By noon, the hordes were coming from all directions. People were parking as much as a kilometre away. The crowds started ignoring the overwhelmed farm staff, strolling into the fields without paying. Police told the Bogles that parents were crossing four lanes of traffic with strollers, people were getting in fender benders – one driver had his door ripped off by a passing car… The Bogles tried their best to ward off the trespassers. “We asked one guy to leave, and he said, ‘Make me’ and wanted to fight,” Brad says.
The Bogles quickly became trapped between tourists, some of whom are still showing up and ignoring the signs; local police, who found themselves with an unexpected public safety hazard on what’s usually a quiet country road; and their neighbors, who were infuriated at the chaos. The Bogles have done their best to be polite but firm, as they’ve posted signs and even doubled down with warnings on their website:
Yes, that’s a scrolling banner. To make matters worse, sunflowers have fragile lower leaves that, if damaged, leave the plants more susceptible to drought and sickness. The Bogles won’t know just how many flowers were injured, or the impacts on their crops, until they begin harvesting in the fall.
Much like the ongoing ecological disaster that is animal selfies, more and more travelers are reporting that Instagram-obsessed photographers are ruining some of the world’s most beautiful places. It’s fairly clear we need a new set of rules, that we need to be more mindful of both the environment we’re visiting and those visiting it with us, and we need to hold ourselves and others to this higher standard when it comes to the social contract.
Otherwise, we may be at risk of losing far more than just a sunflower farm.
(via the Globe And Mail)