Sally who started and runs Norfolk Saffron is an Oxford trained botanist with a doctorate in plant pathology, she is helped in busy periods by her family and especially by her mother Jill who is the reason that saffron growing has returned to Norfolk.
Norfolk Saffron is based in the family smallholding in the pretty village of Burnham Norton on the north west Norfolk coast, the land has been in the family since 1935, but Sally only started growing Saffron there in 1997 after her mother gave her 20 saffron corms as a birthday present. By 2009 there was too much saffron being grown just for personal or indeed for use by the whole family and Sally decided to go into commercial production and with the help of RDPE funding the new business was born.
Norfolk Saffron continues the ages old practice of growing saffron on the north Norfolk coast, in the past much of the saffron grown and processed in this part of Norfolk was sent across to Holland via the small port of Wells next the Sea but this stopped many centuries ago.
Sally now sells her bottled saffron, two types of saffron flour and her saffron liquor at local farmers markets, large annual food and drink festivals, also some is sold in shops in north Norfolk and increasingly she is selling her saffron on line, she also has set up a small saffron museum in Burnham Norton.
Slow food Anglia is now planning an application to Slow Food International to get the saffron granted Presidia status from the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and we hope to start the process whicl attending the Salone del Gusto Terre Madre held in Turin in late September.
Aviva Leigh who originally introduced me to Sally from Norfolk Saffron is based near Norwich, she designs and makes contemporary textiles that celebrate artisan skills, using natural dyeing including saffron, hand weaving and also felt making. She currently has a studio in a beautiful old merchants house in the centre of Norwich and runs courses and workshops both in Norfolk and other parts of the UK.
Aviva is inspired by a ‘slow making’ ethos that embraces the use of sustainable and zero-waste processes and considers the provenance of all materials that she uses. She works mainly with natural dye stuffs, often grown locally, and is passionate about connecting personally with the process of creating colour, from sowing the seeds to processing the pigment and dyeing the fibres.
Last year Aviva opened a new workshop and studio in Happisburgh on the north Norfolk coast but also continues with some work in Norwich as well.