PRESTON, Conn. (WTNH) – Half a million dollars is being given out to 33 farms around the state. The grants are aimed at strengthening the economic viability of Connecticut farmers and agricultural cooperatives.
Though not a grant recipient, one Connecticut farm is blossoming because of agro-tourism.
Gorgeous yellow, pink, purple, and white tulips paint the Preston plot of land. In two years’ time, Wicked Tulips has become an economic generator and amplifier for agro-tourism.
“We actually, during the week, we have a little low number, but [that] might have to do with high gas prices, et cetera. But overall, we are very happy to be here,” said Jeroen Koeman, Wicket Tulips.
The farmers left Holland and moved to the states, bringing their love for tulips to Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“Yeah, we’ve doubled. We doubled our acreage from last year to this year, so there are 600,000 flowers here, and so it’s much, much bigger,” said Kerriann Koeman, Wicked Tulips.
“We talk a lot about how agriculture requires innovators and entrepreneurs, and so finding a way for farmers to do something a little different. This was an old dairy farm,” said Brian Hurlburt, Commissioner of Agriculture.
The current owners are renting the land to Wicked Tulips. Here’s where agro-tourism comes in. People come as far away as two hours. Once they are done hanging around the tulips, they eat out at the local restaurants.
“We’re employing about 50 people a day and it feels good,” Kerriann said.
The family business has taken root in Milan, Italy, and Texas. The tulip farm in eastern Connecticut is said to be the largest in New England.
The first 10 tulips are free, after that it’s one dollar a bud. Every consumer dollar keeps the farm alive.