Argyle Australian Saffron
In 2016, Angela and Brendan Argyle left their corporate jobs in Sydney and moved to Orange in Central West NSW. With a lifelong ambition to get back to their country roots, and a passion for amazing produce, Orange seemed like the perfect location. In 2018, they hand planted their first 2500 saffron corms which yielded around 10 grams of saffron and Argyle Australian Saffron was established.
We interview Angela Argyle from Australian Argyle Saffron to learn more about the world’s most expensive spice and the reasons behind her decision to start a saffron farm in Orange.
Interview with Angela Argyle, a local saffron farmer in Orange
Why the tree change to Orange?
Brendon and I both grew up in regional towns, so once we started a family, we always wanted to raise our children in a similar environment. With our business backgrounds, we always wanted to start a business also, and saw huge opportunity in regional areas to do this.
We looked at many regional towns, but Orange appealed for lots of reasons. Great wineries, food, arts, the proximity to Sydney to family and friends, as well a being a growing area from a cultural and diversity perspective with great core services.
Why did you choose to farm saffron?
A few things:
• Apart from the initial investment into the corms, basically everything else is manual so there were minimal startup costs for equipment or plant
• The climate is perfect for saffron in Orange, which likes 4 distinct seasons
• Saffron lasts basically indefinitely if stored correctly, so we figured even if we didn’t sell any early on it wouldn’t spoil in storage.
• Saffron self multiplies, usually 4-6 times over a couple of years. So, once you have invested initially, your stock just keeps increasing.
• Saffron has many health benefits which are now being proven under clinical trial, like ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Macular Degeneration and Depression. So, we knew there would be increasing demand as these come to fruition.
• Saffron is light to freight!
What has surprised you about the industry?
Good question! I guess I was surprised about how little many people know about saffron, like what to do with it, … but then again, I didn’t know much either at the start! BUT I am more surprised and delighted about how interested people become once we explain it’s uses, and how fast the demand has grown even since we started!
Is it a labour of love?
It is, there is no doubt that unless you love all that growing saffron entails, you wouldn’t be a saffron farmer. Probably contrary to what most would believe, you don’t make huge money out of saffron despite its price point, you must grow and pick A LOT to make a commercial living from it. Luckily, we absolutely love every backbreaking minute of it!
What is your biggest achievement to date?
In 2021, we were nominated for the prestigious Harvey Norman Delicious Produce Awards. We were thrilled to be recognised for our quality Australian grown saffron and received a gold medal in the finals.
What is your favourite saffron recipe?
I really love basic saffron and coconut rice with a mid-week curry. But if you want to go fancier, a saffron basque cheesecake is unbeatable, as is saffron steeped in gin with tonic and a slice of orange!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Farming saffron on a much bigger scale, and as my full time “job”. Now we both still work full time, but with the increase in demand we are scaling up in 2022 and we hope to be able to both give up our day jobs by 2025.
What are your top 3 things to do in Orange? (Child free!)
• A loooong afternoon tasting at any one of our amazing wineries, De Salis is my personal favourite.
• Dinner at Charred
• A wander around some of the fabulous local shops, like The Sonic, Mary and Tex, the list goes on!
Country Food Trails offer seasonal tours to the Argyle Australian Saffron farm. You’ll visit the saffron farm when it’s in full flower and meet Angela and Brendan. It’s a unique, hand-on experience to learn about farming saffron. You’ll pick the flowers, strip, and dry the precious stigmas. While the saffron is drying, you’ll enjoy delicious saffron tea and lamingtons.
There is plenty of time to ask questions and Angela and Brendan are very generous in sharing their knowledge. Here’s a few quotes from guests who joined the Saffron Trail tour in April 2021.
“I was fortunate to tour with Nicole at Country Food Trails to Argyle Saffron Farm at Lidster. What a great experience, we went early on a crisp Autumn morning and our hosts Angela and Brendon could not have been more accommodating. We were able to pick our own saffron and while doing that it was apparent what it labour intensive process it is for saffron producers and completely understandable why it is quite expensive. We were then treated to some delicious saffron tea and lamingtons. Angela and Brendon then demonstrated their drying process and each of us was able to take home the saffron we’d picked. Would thoroughly recommend the Argyle Saffron tour with the lovely Nicole at Country Food Trails.” Bev Williams, Google Review
“A big thank you for organising our trip to Angela’s saffron farm, what a treat! We really loved meeting the person behind the product – to meet with Angela and hear the story behind her farm and the passion she has for her work was just wonderful. From picking the saffron flowers, watching the drying process, sipping the saffron tea, and listening to Angela talk about the production of the saffron, we were able to glean a tremendous insight into what goes on to produce those little specks of gold and why they are so special. Thanks so much Nicole for this unique, immersive and fascinating tour.” Tracy O’hearn, Google Review
At the end of the tour, you’ll go home with freshly picked saffron and inspiration to try new recipes.
Saffron only flowers for a couple of weeks a year so sign up to our seasonal newsletter to ensure you don’t miss this exclusive opportunity. We anticipate tours will run in April 2022. Tours sold out in 2021 and newsletter subscribers will have first opportunity to join.