Raleigh harvests Dorothea Dix Park sunflowers for biofuel

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The colorful sunflowers that delighted thousands in Dorothea Dix Park are just a memory now.

The field is now filled with dried stalks and seeds now.

Those seeds have a role in the city's future, now that they're harvested for conversion to biofuel.

ABC11 rode with Raleigh city worker Michael Gregory as he piloted a huge harvester called the Gleaner through the dried sunflower remains Monday morning.

The seeds, gathered in a large bin located behind the cab where Gregory sat behind the wheel, are separated from the withered stalks.

They head next to another location in Raleigh where they'll be pressed and processed into fuel that will power machines the city uses for maintenance duties.

"We want to use the sunflowers as a renewable energy source in our public utilities area for biofuel," said Joey Vasca as he watched the harvesting process. "It's a great sustainable way that the city of Raleigh can plant this beautiful field for the public to enjoy, but also have sustainable energy options."

Vasca said converting the seeds to biofuel also benefits taxpayers.

"It absolutely does. Instead of us having to go out an buy different fuels that we need, we are able to reuse these beautiful sunflowers and the different materials in an efficient way and a sustainable way," he said.

Next spring the cycle continues, when machines powered by biofuel plant more seeds in the now dried out Dix Park sunflower field's soil.
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