The pop-up farm on the site of what was once Taberner House is appealing for more public donations, ahead of a visit by competition judges from the Royal Horticultural Society.
With plans to build housing alongside Queen’s Gardens delayed last year, the council allowed one of its employees, Ally McKinlay, to create a pop-up saffron farm, harvesting the precious spice from crocuses grown there last autumn.
Further delays in the much-needed home building has this year seen McKinlay given licence to create a Bee Haven on the central Croydon site, just a few yards away from the busy Croydon Flyover junction with the town’s six-lane urban motorway.
Now, with a visit from the RHS’s competition judges just a fortnight away, McKinlay is making an appeal for public help.
“A boost in blooms could make all the difference as slugs have claimed many a seedling and the soggy weather looks set to continue,” McKinlay said.
“The No1 plant we’re after is marjoram, as the bees love it when it goes to flower. Lavender would also be great, as it has a link to Croydon heritage and is starting to bloom at this time. Lots of people have these plants in their gardens. If they’re willing to chop off a chunk and stick it in a large pots we’d be very happy to receive it.”
The urban farm is being judged as part of the RHS’s “It’s your neighbourhood” campaign.
McKinlay has other gardening tasks lined up for this Sunday, June 19, between noon and 7pm. Any volunteers wishing to help that have not been to the farm will require a safety induction and must confirm in advance when they plan to arrive.
“We’d love people to come and have a look at the space but there are restrictions on how many are allowed in at any one time. It’s really important that visitors stick to the paths and don’t run about. At the same time, Queens Gardens is looking great and there’s plenty of space there for kids to tear about whilst people get stuck in on the farm.”
Croydon Saffron Central has been experimenting with local heritage plants.
Having successfully harvested 20,000 crocus sativus corms last year, they are growing woad, which has a link to Waddon, lavender and the Shirley poppy which was developed by Reverend William Wilks in 1880. All the plants are popular with bees, creating a model of local heritage supporting the global need for pollinators.
McKinlay is seeking donations of large plant pots and soil, such as John Innis No3 and multi-purpose compost.
For more details, see CroydonSaffronCentral.org
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