The town centre promises to be a colourful place in November as thousands of the flowers that gave the town its name burst into full bloom at Croydon Saffron Central.
On the site of Taberner House, Croydon Council’s former HQ, the world’s largest urban pop-up saffron farm saw the blooming of the first of 17,000 crocus corms over the weekend, with the remainder expected to flower over coming weeks.
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, the £4.3K Spacehive crowdfunded project, launched in September 2015, and was granted an extension to stay on site, enabling a second harvest of the world’s most expensive spice.
Project creator, Ally McKinlay, said that some 100 volunteers have been busily lifting Crocus sativus corms – the saffron crocus – from 10,000 pots, and splitting and replanting them into 17,000 pots.
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.”
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
“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.”
Ally is currently recruiting volunteers to help with the harvest when the flowers are ready. Anybody interested in lending a hand should email firstname.lastname@example.org