Why saffron farming is blooming in unlikely places

BY OLIVIA MILTNER

Micheline Sylvestre is unlike most saffron farmers. She waits until later in the day, after all the dew is gone, to pick her flowers, while most of her peers pick theirs first thing in the morning. Last year, when it snowed early in the season, she picked 300 as she was shoveling with her dad. Two years ago, she was still finding them at Christmas. But she’s also different for a second reason.

Sylvestre isn’t from Iran, Afghanistan or Kashmir, the regions that for centuries have produced almost all of the world’s saffron. She lives in Lanaudière, Quebec, about 70 miles north of Montreal, and she’s been farming saffron for four years. Her farm, Emporium Safran, is one of a wave of new saffron farms blooming across North America, Europe and even down to New Zealand, where those who cultivate it are also nurturing a budding industry.

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