A stunning crop of sunflowers growing in Trispen near Truro are attracting light-fingered visitors - but the village is protecting its own.

The fields of more than 275,000 sunflowers are destined to be made into high quality cooking oil but they are being threatened by people picking them.

Jack Baines, founder of Hard Pressed Cornwall, said: "The sunflowers are obviously an attractive thing that people want a piece of.

"But we need these flowers by September in order to be able to make the oil - and to be able to grow them again next year."

Last week a neighbour told Jack that they had seen two girls walking through the field collecting flowers, and that they had warned them off.

Following this, Hard Pressed Cornwall installed CCTV cameras and locked gates.

To explain the changes, the company posted on its Facebook page:

"THIS IS NOT A NATURAL PHENOMENON! This is a man made, and still very active food production project! We need all the sunflowers we can, to harvest the seed in late September.

"Myself, Nick and his family, have spent 6 months, countless hours and thousands of pounds to bring this sunflower project to life here in Cornwall. The aim was to do something special, not only for agriculture and food production but for the local area."

Read more: Field of 275,000 sunflowers opens to visitors - but you'll have to be quick

The response to this post from the local community was fantastic, said Jack.

"We've had an amazing community response. The whole of Trispen is keeping an eye out! They've really stepped up, the locals have been great."

Somerset County Gazette:

Jack Baines. Picture: Kathy White

Acknowledging that 19 acres of sunflowers is an extraordinary sight, Jack and his team are inviting the public to visit the sunflowers this weekend.

"It would be very selfish to keep this spectacle behind closed gates.

"We hoped it wouldn't come to that, but we've had a great response from the community.

"The response has been way bigger then we expected."

There is so much interest from people wanting to see the sunflowers that Jack and the team are implementing a booking system for the open weekend.

People wishing to see the sunflowers for themselves are asked to visit hardpressedcornwall.co.uk or its Facebook page and book a slot.

There are seven slots a day. Each is 45 minutes long and run from 10am - 5.30pm on Friday, July 7, Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9.

While the finishing times have been extended, the car parking is limited to 30 spaces. In addition to Covid-19 safety guidelines, there are also concerns about increasing traffic through Trispen during the weekend.

The open weekend will help raise funds for Sowenna, Cornwall’s mental health unit for young people.