‘World’s largest’ urban pop-up saffron farm to bring Croydon history to life
Croydon town centre promises to have a colourful November as thousands of saffron flowers are set to burst into full bloom at Croydon Saffron Central.
On the site of Taberner House, Croydon Council’s former HQ, an urban pop-up saffron farm, said to be the world’s largest, saw the first blooming of 17,000 crocus corms over the weekend of October 22 to 23.
After a successful harvest last year, 100 volunteers have been busy lifting crocus sativus corms (the saffron crocus) from 10,000 pots before splitting and replanting them into 17,000 pots.
The origin of the town’s name is thought to be the Anglo-Saxon croh denu, meaning crocus valley, as the area has historic links with cultivation of the plant and its valuable harvest, saffron.
Croydon Saffron Central is a £4,300 Spacehive crowd funded project, launched in September 2015.
Ally McKinlay, project creator, said the blooming of the flowers promised to be a ‘great spectacle’.
He said: “We’ve given away thousands of smaller corms that will have their blooms in future years.
“Last year’s harvesters counted around 11,000 flowers, which produced 33,000 stigmas. When dried this collectively weighed 58 grams.
“It’s quite nerve-racking to see how the corms will perform this year, and I’m not sure they’re all big enough to bloom.
“All being well, it will make for a great spectacle before the site turns its focus to being redeveloped for residential apartments.”
More than 100 volunteers have been busy at the siteCouncillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said the history of the town has quite literally been brought to life.
He said: “The Croydon Saffron Central project really caught the public imagination last year and we’re glad to see it getting off to a blooming good start for its second harvest.
“Ally is to be commended for the dedication and hard work that he’s put into the project, all for the good of Croydon’s many and varied communities.
“In addition to contributing thousands of crocus corms to community groups and individuals across the borough, he’s brought an important aspect of our borough’s history to life for many who were previously completely unaware that, in centuries past, Croydon was literally saffron central – on a global scale.”
If you are interested in helping Ally and the team as a volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.