Legend has it that Croydon’s name is derived from the term ‘Crocus Valley’ because hundreds of years ago, it was an area where the Romans cultivated crocuses to give them a supply of fragrant saffron to use in their cooking. It’s also been said that saffron is worth more gram for gram than gold.
Modern day Croydon citizen Ally McKinlay, who presents a programme on local radio, had an idea to create a 21st Century pop-up saffron farm. Housed on the site of a demolished tower block in the centre of town and financed by a crowdfunding initiative, the plan is well underway behind appropriately purple-painted hoardings.
The local branch of the Women’s Institute kept the small army of volunteers, who are helping pot the corms and prepare the beds, refreshed with tea and cakes.
It should be about 10 weeks until the flowers appear and I’m hoping to return to follow the progress of the project.