Wicked Tulips Flower Farm Opens Once Again for Spring Picking
The tulip farm, opening April 23 at a new location in Exeter, runs just a few short weeks in spring.
Rows of vibrant purples, yellows as bright as the sun and reds as deep as a summer sunset contrast against a blue spring sky. For a moment in time, we imagine: This is what heaven on Earth must look like. Young children in floral dresses and muck boots with woven baskets in hand meander a field of blooms. Moms take photos while wrangling in their toddlers from snapping the delicate flora in half.
Couples tiptoe among the tulips, their arms full of bunches large enough to create several beautiful bouquets for family and friends or their own kitchen table. Volunteers in matching T-shirts give directions to families and individual pickers alike, each person smiling at the joy before them. And sometimes, you’ll even bump into husband and wife duo and owners of the tulip field, Keriann and Jeroen Koeman, chatting with visitors and checking in on the knee-high rows.
Jeroen, a third-generation Dutch farmer from a small town in Holland, left his family’s tulip farming business in 2006 to come to the United States. He began working as a head grower for a variety of tulip farms in Washington and Virginia. While there, Jeroen met Keriann and their love, plus an idea for a business venture together, blossomed. And try as he might to leave, Jeroen found himself back among the flowers — this time, half a world away.
Their business sprouted from Keriann’s green lifestyle and Jeroen’s entrepreneurial spirit as an organic bulb company called EcoTulips. According to Keriann, her husband was a bit overzealous with ordering the organic bulbs from Holland and many of them did not sell. Although Keriann panicked, Jeroen went back to his roots and decided they would create a u-pick tulip field. Because Dutch tulip businesses are over-saturated, he saw the opportunity to grow his own here in the United States.
“It turned out to be a great success and people loved it,” says Keriann. “We had a few thousand visitors that first year at our tulip field in Virginia and at that point it just became an addition to our bulb business.”
After six years in the middle of the Eastern seaboard, the Koemans decided to move to New England not only to be closer to Keriann’s Massachusetts-based family, but because Rhode Island’s climate also happens to be perfect for growing tulips.
When the Koemans opened Wicked Tulips Flower Farm (once EcoTulips) in Johnston six years ago, they knew they had found the right state for their flowers. They launched the business at Snake Den Farm in Johnston and, in 2021, opened a new location on Hog House Hill Road in Exeter.
Last year, amid the pandemic, Wicked Tulips operated as curbside pickup only. But, this year, the Koemans invite visitors to their Exeter farm — as well as an additional farm in Preston, Connecticut — for u-pick events. Guests are asked to bring their own buckets or baskets for their fresh-picked tulips, wear face masks at all times and socially distance. All tickets must be purchased in advance on the website. At this time, food and picnics are not allowed. The farm plans to host yoga events, and curbside pickup is still available.
The picking season only lasts few short weeks depending on Mother Nature but is a year-long commitment for the Koemans. Every October, the Wicked Tulips team uses a tractor and a planting machine to get the u-pick bulbs in the ground before the soil freezes. The process takes three to four weeks, contingent on the weather and soil conditions.
Their motto is: Do one thing and do it well. Sharing their love for nature and providing people the opportunity to wander among their little slice of happiness? They’re the cream of the crop.
Wicked Tulips Flower Farm is open April 23 and 24 and April 26-May 2, weather dependent, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults (includes ten u-pick tulips; additional stems are $1 each) and $3 for children. Tickets are nonrefundable but are transferable. 400 Hog House Hill Rd., Exeter, wickedtulips.com
Editor’s note: This story was updated from a previous version published in April of 2019.