Jennifer and John Halfinger have had a family tradition of planting daffodil bulbs around their home for the last 22 years. Now, the longtime farmers who have grown everything from pumpkins to strawberries and flowers and greenhouse plants are hoping to start a new springtime tradition, one that will bring people from far and wide to their Higganum farm.
In 2017, the couple bought a 12-acre property on Jacoby Road, formerly Winmar Farm, long dormant and quite overgrown, just a few miles down the road from their main operation, Halfinger Farms on Candlewood Hill Road. After spending two years clearing the land, they planted 8,000 daffodil bulbs in fall 2019, opening to the public the following spring. After a low-key first season due to the pandemic, the farm is ready to burst forth for a second season, this time with over 30,000 bulbs. The farm is one of the few pick-your-own daffodil farms in the country and the only one in Connecticut. “Daffodil picking at this farm represents a new venture for us and a whole new passion,” says Jennifer, who, along with John, has been farming the land for more than 25 years. “It’s a really peaceful place, it’s just about being in the daffodils and losing yourself that way.”
William Wordsworth was so inspired by a field of daffodils that he wrote his most famous poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, about them. Jennifer found her own inspiration in the poem’s last two lines — And then my heart with pleasure fills, / And dances with the daffodils. Alternately dubbing their new venture Dancing Daffodils, or more officially, Halfinger Farms on Winmar (in homage to the previous owners), the Halfingers focus on early-blooming and mid-season blooming varieties, resulting in a season that runs from mid-March through early May.
Although they opened the farm for its inaugural season last March, shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown, they had a good first year and are anticipating an even better second season. “It’s like we have been given a gift … so many people have been uplifted by the farm already,” Jennifer says.
Classic yellow trumpet-style daffodils are prolific at the farm, but there are about 20 varieties, from white and yellow, and centers range in color from salmon to yellow to orange. Besides trumpets, there are cup-shaped daffodils, while Jennifer’s favorite is the split-corona variety with an open face. “They look like origami; they’re just beautiful,” she says.
People can pick daffodils at 55 cents a stem; decorative gift wrapping is offered for a small fee. Sanitization stations and water are available, but due to COVID, clippers are not provided. While people can easily pluck a stem by hand, visitors may bring their own clippers and a container. “We recommend bringing them home dry and clipping off half an inch off the stem when you get home before putting them into fresh water,” she says. “You can even pick swollen buds that haven’t opened yet. Once you bring them inside a warm house, they open very quickly.”
The Halfingers hope to keep hand-planting new bulbs every year, with a total of about 45,000 bulbs ready for picking next spring. “This is the beginning of something new,” John says. “We really want this to become a spring ritual for families, a destination to come to, year after year.”
489 Candlewood Hill Road, Higganum
Open Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; no appointment necessary