A fourth generation bulb farmer from Holland, Jan met his wife Ritva in her home country of Finland. They immigrated together to the U.S. in 1973, moving to the fertile Skagit Valley to work on Jan’s uncle’s bulb farm. In 1982, Jan and Ritva started their own company, Choice Bulb Farms. For many years they have shipped bulbs and blooms to floral buyers across the country.
Known for a wide array of unusual and gorgeous specialty bulb crops, Choice Bulb has weathered the ups and downs of the floral industry over the past thirty years. While they continue to ship products around the country, they have also built a loyal following of customers at the University District and Ballard Farmers Markets in the Seattle area. One of the first seasonal field growers to appear at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in spring, Jan’s heirloom knowledge of the bulb industry brings an important dimension to the market and he is known for generously sharing information with other growers and customers alike. Although Choice Bulb sells mainly through the SWGMC Front Desk, customers lucky enough to encounter Jan in person rarely slip away without some gem of philosophical wisdom. “For me, its more than just a business,” he explains. “It is really important that the person who enjoys the flowers I grow does so for a week or even 10 days.”
“We like to think we do a responsible job of leaving the soil we farm in at least as good of shape as we find it in,” says Jan. “We try to grow to the best of our ability those crops that fit best in the climate and soils where we farm. Thus we try to make a living with minimal input from outside resources such as fertilizers, pesticides and hired labor.”