Yaphank Bulb Farm

The Yaphank Bulb Farm
In 1924 the United States placed an embargo on bulbs coming from Holland. Shipments had been bringing in unwanted “pests” that were harmful to American agriculture.
Shortly afterwards, Dutch bulb growers began to migrate to America, and settled on Long Island where land was cheap and the close to the best markets. Suffolk became recognized as a bulb center.
In 1926 Frederick Rynveld purchased 325 acres from Charles E. Walters of Yaphank. This property enlarged his operation as Rynveld also owned bulb farms in Jacksonville Florida and Hicksville, Long Island. Cornelius Zyerveld who came to America in 1923 was chosen to manage the Yaphank farm.
The farm consisted of 80 cleared acres on the north side of Main Street, running to the Yaphank Cemetery Line. At any one time the farm employed up to 40 men.
The main output was bulbs and over 200 varieties were grown including: Tulips, Daffodils, Gladioli, Lilies and Snowdrops. 
All of the buildings and barns were located on a two acre tract. This also included three large greenhouses, which were used for forced blooms before the weather permitted outside planting. One building housed a large water vat, boiler pumps and tanks. This building was where the bulbs were sterilized. 
Before bulbs were replanted each year they were sterilized in order to kill the eggs of flies that were capable of killing the bulbs. This was done by immersing the bulbs in water at 110 degrees for 3 hours. As many as 50,000 bulbs could be placed in a vat at one time.
When the Tulips were planted outdoors they were mulched with hay, which was removed when the warm weather arrived. Four hundred bales of hay were stored at the farm for this process.
Beginning in January the greenhouses ran night and day as they began to prepare for the Easter trade. In 1936, the farm had sold over 100,000 Hyacinth plants by April. The plants were sold in many states and as far away as California. The biggest purchasers of plants were; R.H. Macy, B. Altman, Abraham and Strauss and P.W. Woolworths.
Cut flowers were shipped every day, but the largest part of the business was bulbs.
Frederick Rynveld noted “The average person will buy a flowering plant which he sees in the store for 10 or 25cents, when he would not buy cut flowers or go to a greenhouse to buy a plant.” 
Local residents were treated each spring to a landscape of vibrant colors as they passed the farm.
Cornelius Zyerfeld left the farm around 1940 and moved to Patchogue where he opened up a floral shop, that he operated for thirty years. 
In 1942, Mary Walters, widow of Charles E. Walters put an ad in the paper announcing that she was selling the bulb farm property at auction.

The Bulb farm.
House lived in by Cornelius Zyerveld, called the bulb house.
Crop dusting
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