EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island’s very popular tulip farm is closed off to the public due to the pandemic, forcing the owners to do things a little differently this year.
In recent years, thousands of people from all over New England have come to tiptoe through the tulips and pick flowers at Wicked Tulips Farm.
Keriann Koeman, one of the farm’s owners, said they planted an extra two acres of bulbs in the fall, for an additional 200,000 tulip bulbs. In total, Koeman said, they planted just under one million bulbs on the Schartner Farm property.
For the past five years, Wicked Tulips has operated in Johnston, but they wanted to give the soil a break there.
Jeroen Koeman, Keriann’s husband and farm co-owner, said it was a challenge to plant on the new soil and it was a challenging planting season for them.
”We are still excited for this spring, but it just turned out very differently than expected,” Jeroen said.
Last year, in Johnston, the fields were crowded. This year, due to social-distancing mandates, the public is not allowed in the fields.
“We saw that happening pretty early on. We were kind of distraught, but after we got over that and started to think creatively, it just kind of came together. We are very creative, luckily, and came up with several different ideas,” Keriann said.
This year, Wicked Tulips will be offering a virtual experience, where people can watch videos of the tulip fields while listening to book readings, musical performances and even yoga.
“If we do yoga, we’re letting that one person in and film them and show them in our virtual experience,” Keriann said.
“With the virtual experience, we want people to feel the joy of walking between the tulips,” Jeroen added.
In an email sent to subscribers, Wicked Tulips said they’re looking for more talent, including dancers, singers and artists. They even offered Taylor Swift an opportunity to perform, “as long as she has properly quarantined in Rhode Island.”
Just like restaurants have been doing, Wicked Tulips will also be offering curbside pickup.
“You get to at least see the tulips from your car, and you’ll have to buy them online beforehand, and it will be by appointment only,” Keriann said.
The Koemans said they were receiving emails and phone calls from their “tulip friends and families” asking how they can help. Out of that, Keriann said, came the “Tulips for Love and Hope Campaign.”
“One of the things that they wanted is to buy bouquets to give to hospital workers, nursing homes, so we came up with this program where our customers could buy bouquets to be donated,” Keriann said.
Approval forms for delivery will be needed ahead of time, especially for nursing homes. Everyone handling the tulips will be wearing masks and gloves as a safety precaution.
“We want to spread the love and joy. That’s all we want to spread,” Keriann said.