Charlottesville Breaking News
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 other groups.
"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...
While the Charlottesville City Market continues to search for new and better location, the folks at Elks Lodge 389, located off Stony Point Road near Darden Towe Park, may have beat them to it.
According to Lodge member Kathy Hicks, 11 vendors, many of whom also set up at the City Market, have already reserved spaces for a Tuesday (3-7pm) and Saturday (8am-1pm) Farmer's Market that will open in May, providing an alternative to the cramped locations on Water Street and Meade Avenue.
"The Meade Park location is just horrible," says Hicks. "Someone is going to get hurt down there."
As Hicks points out, there's plenty of parking for vendors and market-goers in the Lodge parking lot, and there's easy access to the large grassy area along Stony Point Road, which also provides great exposure. Hicks hopes to operate on roughly the same scale as the City Market.
Hicks says she has nine more spaces available. Payment follows an honor system, with vendors handing over 6 percent of their sales or $5, whichever is higher. For $25, vendors will also get a parking space. If you're interested in reserving a space, give Hicks a call at 434-974-1950