The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant with large flowers. It is native to North America and is an important food crop worldwide. Some background on how to grow them and care for them is found here. Briefly, sunflowers can tolerate both light and heavy soil, and will grow best when they have plenty of organic matter and some fertilizer. They need watering during dry weather. Other than some basic care methods, sunflowers don't require much intervention while growing.
- food: kernels can be eaten raw or used in baking or cooking. Also excellent feed for birds and wildlife.
- cut flower for the floral industry.
- The stems can be turned into paper (processing requires lye and equipment for pulp making) and clothing
- stems can also simply be burned for energy (see ash)
- sunflower oil from pressed seeds
- the oil can be turned into biodiesel
- press cake can be fed to pigs and chickens
- stems and leaves into fodder (perhaps as silage)
- also see Jerusalem Artichoke, which is a type of sunflower but somewhat different uses (no oil, but lots of sugars)
Open Source Hardware Needs
- soil preparation, bringing fertilizer to the field
- seed press to extract the oil (see page Vegetable Oil Production and Appropedia page Small Scale Vegetable Oil Extraction )