A hive of horticultural activity is expected in The Queen’s Gardens on Saturday (19) when volunteers from across the borough are expected to help with the planting of 21,000 crocuses.
The project is the brainchild of Croydon Radio presenter Ally McKinlay who is keen to see Croydon get back to its roots by organising the pop-up saffron farm in the town that takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon Croh Denu – which means Crocus Valley.
Ally hopes his scheme will raise awareness of – and a taste for – local heritage across the borough’s 24 wards.
Dubbed Croydon Saffron Central, the project will welcome volunteers between 10am and 5pm to help plant the Crocus Sativus corms – from which the flowering plant grows – in plant pots and 10 tonnes of soil.
The project generated a whirlwind of interest in August as it raised £4,275 through 107 people in just six days using the crowdfunding platform Spacehive. Donations have paid for the corms, soil, gravel and scaffold boards.
Ally said: “This is a great opportunity to raise awareness, for communities in all parts of the borough, of how Croydon got its name. The idea is that people from community gardens, groups and schools come to help recreate the Crocus Valley in The Queen’s Gardens by potting corms.
“The pots will then be placed in the adjacent Taberner House site to bask in the sunshine. When the saffron has been harvested, the volunteers will be able to take the plants back to their respective wards and develop their own local saffron farms.”
“This is a great scheme for which Ally should be given full credit, and sits happily alongside Croydon’s status as a Food Flagship Borough.
“It’s getting local people involved in a healthy pursuit that will, in addition to giving them a link back to Croydon’s rich history, see them taking crocuses back to their communities and – who knows? – lead to the creation of saffron farms across the borough.
“Also, it’s putting the currently dormant Taberner House site to productive use before work starts on the exciting housing and commercial development, scheduled to begin next year.”
Anybody keen to contribute to Croydon Saffron Central should contact Ally McKinlay at Croydon Radio, on Twitter @BadgerJellyfish or via the Facebook page Made In Croydon.