Whidbey Island residents no longer have to drive to Mount Vernon to get an “Instagram-worthy” photo in a colorful field of tulips. In addition to ice cream, jams, honey, and other local products, the K&R Farm Stand north of Frostad Road now also sells fresh-cut tulips from its nearby field.
Kelli Short and Ray Sullivan are both life-long Whidbey farmers, but they hadn’t grown flowers before.
“We just wanted to add something new,” Sullivan said.
Short and Sullivan also raise Angus cattle on land adjacent to the farm stand, but didn’t take over the stand until last year. Both their families had farmed with the previous owners and its proximity to their current operation made it a logical purchase.
“It was right in our backyard,” said Sullivan.
Short and Sullivan have been in business together for 14 years, which is also the amount of time they have been a couple, although they met much earlier. As children, Short participated in horse 4-H and Sullivan cow 4-H, which led to them meeting at a fair when they were around 8 years old. Years later, they started a boarding facility for quarter horses and cattle and that was the beginning of K&R Farms.
“Our farm operation seems to get more detailed each and every year,” said Sullivan.
Plans for next year include doubling the size of the tulip field, they said. K&R Farm Stand offers u-pick strawberries and raspberries, cucumbers, zucchini, garlic, squash and pickled products made from the produce. The produce isn’t usually ready to be sold until June, but tulips’ early bloom allows the stand to open earlier. And it’s always a good time to sell ice cream.
“What better way to spend a sunny day than have your ice cream and walk through the tulip fields,” said Short.
Seven fresh-cut flowers are $5 at the stand and a number of different varieties are available: dynasty pink, negrita, apeldorn, golden apeldorn, ile de France and pink impression.
Short and Sullivan, aware of the field’s photo opportunity potential, also created a nearby display with tractors used on the farm in the 50s. Katie Houck, 17, an employee who has described Sullivan and Short as her second parents, planted the approximately 25,000 bulbs by hand. She said she spent around seven hours a day for two weeks putting in the flowers in early November, enduring rain and snow.
“It’s cool to see them come in,” Houck said. “… Worth the bruised knees.”