Today it is mostly grown in Persia, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Greece although there are several other places that produce it.
There is not a lot of it grown in the USA and is extremely expensive to buy at retail, about $20 a gram. The University of Vermont is spearheading an effort to produce saffron in the United States.
A couple of years ago, we tried to plant and grow some in the Community Garden section of the Desert Botanical Garden. The first year, of the 40-50 corms, which look like but are different from bulbs, our effort did not produce any flowers. We think we planted them too early before the heat before the heat of the summer waned. The second year, from the same corms, we produced about a gram of dried saffron from the beautiful flowers that grew.
There are only a couple of people we know who are trying to grow it in the Sonoran Desert; however, we have proven that it will grow here. It can be a significant cash crop as a plot about 10 square meters can produce about $3000 worth of stamens. Don’t hold us to that number.
We have a benefactor who will provide healthy corms to interested parties at no cost while supplies last. Suggested means for planting will be added to the packets. If these pilot projects are successful, there will be opportunities to attempt to bring saffron up to scale.
If you are interested in growing saffron and participate in this endeavor, please email Jerry Estruth atand put Saffron in the subject line.
If we’re successful, we can market it as
Genuine Sonoran Desert Saffron.
photo source: http://www.bioflora.com
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David Hill, Coordinator of the On-Site Community Garden at Desert Botanical Garden and founding member of Community Gardeners of Maricopa County, has been named to serve on the national Board of Directors of the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA). David will be representing the West region of the ACGA.