University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM Researchers to Lead March 9 Workshop on Growing Saffron in Vermont

Saffron grown by UVM researchers
Photo: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist '09

The University of Vermont scientists who grew saffron in a research station in northern Vermont, capturing extensive media attention with their success, will lead a workshop on March 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gardener’s Supply in Burlington on how to grow the spice in northern climates and take it to market.

Registration is required for the event. Space is limited.

At a retail price of $5,000 per pound, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. The UVM researchers, Margaret Skinner and Arash Ghalehgolab, both of UVM’s Entomology Research Laboratory, conducted their research in a greenhouse-like high tunnel in St. Albans, Vermont during two separate growing seasons, in 2015 and 2016. 

The high tunnel environment produced yields that were three to four times greater than in the traditional saffron-growing areas of Iran and Spain.

Speakers at the workshop will include:

  • Ghalehgolab, a post-doctoral student at UVM, who has many years of experience growing saffron in Iran. He was an instrumental part of the university’s saffron research over the last two years. 
  • Hans Rotteveel of Roco Saffron, the Netherlands. Roco Saffron is one of the world’s largest producers of saffron corms. The fourth-generation family business has been cultivating and distributing flower bulbs and saffron corms since 1882.
  • Peter Johnson of the Amish-Mennonite Center of Sustainable Agriculture in Wenham, Mass. The center has been growing saffron outdoors in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maine for a number of years.
  • Susan Liechty, past president of the Herb Society of America. Liechty grows saffron at her home in Ohio and promotes its production nationally.

To conduct further research and to disseminate the results of their past work, Skinner and Ghalehgolab have formed the North American Center for Saffron Research and Development with other saffon experts. The workshop is first outreach project of the group.  

For more information on the workshop, see this website or contact Margaret Skinner at 802-656-5440 or mskinner@uvm.edu.