Keriann and Jeroen Koeman are "tuliping."
PHOTOS BY JEN FARIELLO
When Jeroen Koeman says he's the Tulip Man, the Madison County
resident is just stating a fact. He comes from a line of tulip
growers in Holland, where six of his father's eight brothers grow
the alluring flowers that caused an economic collapse in
the 17th century.
"I know everything about tulips," says Koeman. Not that he
didn't try to escape his tulip destiny. "My brother said he was
going to do tulips. I was going to do something else."
Yet he left Holland to take a job as head grower for a tulip
farm in Washington state and later served as a grower in
Waynesboro. And when, in Charlottesville, he met Keriann, who would
become his wife, plans to return to the Netherlands were dropped.
The couple started EcoTulips, which in 2009 began
importing organic bulbs to sell as fundraisers for schools and
"I felt confident I could sell 200,000," says Koeman. "I didn't,
and that's why I planted 40,000 bulbs."
The excess inventory became a pick-your-own organic tulip
festival last spring, the only such event in the country, and
part of a learning curve for the now 29-year-old Jeroen Koeman
(pronounced yuh-roon koo-man).
Last fall, he planted another 60,000 organic bulbs and this
year's festival visitors can, for $1-$2 a stem, pick Lalibelia,
Rambo, and Silver Dollar–- mo...