A historic farm property in the heart of Vankleek Hill will feature a sea of tulips next spring.
Mike Block and Sandra Bebbington-Block purchased the five-acre property on the village’s Main Street this past March. The site, which features a two-century-old stone farmhouse and barn, is well-known to residents of Vankleek Hill, having been the long-time residence of Don and Bev Mahon.
The Blocks will be applying to Champlain Township to have 2.5 acres of the property designated to allow them to grow tulips. The land will be open for agritourism in the spring, where visitors will be able to pick their own tulips and just enjoy the beautiful scenery.
“We’ll be planting in October and people will be picking in late April and early May of 2022,” says Mike, adding the plan is to add walking paths and benches through the rows of tulips.
The couple moved to Vankleek Hill from Saint-Lazare, as the location more suited to each of their jobs, as well as being closer to Sandra’s parents, who live in Alexandria. Sandra is employed with the federal government in Ottawa, while Mike works in the flower industry in Montreal.
The couple’s idea for their u-pick tulip project is based on a model from Holland, where there are hundreds of acres of tulips open to the public. Tulips are also commercially sold in Canada and are very popular in the spring.
“It’s so easy to pick a tulip – no tools required,” explains Sandra, noting that walking through fields of tulips is a healthy outdoor activity. “It gets people out; it’s fun; it’s outdoors; it’s family friendly, multi-sensory and so beautiful – there’s so many good things about it.”
“We want people to have this experience, so we are opening up our property for others to enjoy,” Mike adds.
After looking at several properties in the region – some as large as 30 acres – the couple was amazed to find a property right in Vankleek Hill, with enough land to start a small-scale tulip operation.
“That was a huge selling point for this property,” Sandra says. “Location-wise, it’s a gift.”
“Everything has just worked out beautifully. The entire community has been very supportive. We’ve gone around and introduced ourselves to neighbours and explained our plan and everyone has been very supportive and friendly.”