Growing farms through agrotourism; grant to strengthen

PRESTON, Conn. (WTNH) – Half a million dollars is being distributed to 33 farms across the state. The grants are intended to strengthen the economic viability of Connecticut farmers and agricultural cooperatives.

Although not a grant recipient, a Connecticut farm is thriving thanks to agritourism.

Gorgeous yellow, pink, purple and white tulips paint the grounds of Preston. In two years, Wicked Tulips has become an economic generator and amplifier for agrotourism.

“We actually, during the week, we have a little low number, but [that] could 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 United States, bringing their love for tulips to Rhode Island and Connecticut.

“Yeah, we doubled. We doubled our acreage from last year to this year, so there are 600,000 blooms here, and so it’s much, much bigger,” said Kerriann Koeman, Wicked Tulips.

“We talk a lot about how agriculture needs innovators and entrepreneurs, and so finding a way for farmers to do something a little different. It was a former dairy farm,” said Agriculture Commissioner Brian Hurlburt.

The current owners lease the land to Wicked Tulips. This is where agritourism comes in. People come until two o’clock. Once they are done hanging around the tulips, they eat at local restaurants.

“We employ 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 a dollar per bud. Every dollar of consumption keeps the farm alive.

About Bobby F. Lopez

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