The sun shone on Croydon’s “Central Park” yesterday, as volunteers came together on the Taberner House building site for the #BigPotUp to plant 21,000 crocus corms.
Photo-journalist LEE TOWNSEND was there to capture the day exclusively for Inside Croydon
Croydon takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon “Croh Denu”, meaning “crocus valley”, and the Saffron Central project is calling on that ancient heritage to revive a precious crop which is thought to have first brought the Romans to the area.
The volunteers were needed to pot up 21,000 Crocus Sativus corms in the centre of Croydon to ensure an autumn harvest of their precious crop of saffron spice crop – which is worth its weight in gold, and then some.
The project has been crowd-funded with more than £4,000 raised in less than a week, organised on a voluntary basis by council employee Ally McKinley to pay for the crocus corms – they are most definitely not “bulbs” – soil and other materials.
The site of the former Croydon Council offices will be home to a pop-up saffron farm for the remainder of the year.
The council has given McKinley permission to utilise the Taberner House site for the duration of the project, which will be completed before building works start early next year.
Despite all his meticulous organisation, McKinley still belatedly discovered a short-fall between number of corms and number of flower pots to pot them into, a conundrum that some quick-witted thinking has helped to resolve over the weekend.
The project aims to scatter a little bit of saffron colour, and wealth, all around Croydon.
The community came together, with groups such as the Croydon Women’s Institute, known as the “Croydon Crocuses”, providing some refreshments including cake, while the 2nd Selsdon and Addington Scout group erected a marquee to provide shelter and shade.
Once harvested, the money raised will pay to continue the scheme, while the corms will be distributed to 24 new, mini-saffron farms to be run by the community in each ward in the borough.
“This is a great opportunity to raise an awareness of how Croydon got its name for communities in all parts of the borough,” McKinley said.
“The idea was for people from community gardens, groups and schools come and help recreate the Crocus Valley in Queen’s Gardens by potting corms which will then be placed in the Taberner House site to bask in the sunshine.”
And indeed the Indian Summer sun did shine.
Within a few weeks, the crocuses should flower, ready to give up their saffron as a crop.
McKinley will be outlining later this week how you can volunteer to help at Saffron Central for the #BigSaffronPick.
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