Saffron is a high-value crop so producing it in a maximally efficient way (vertical farming) intrigues those looking to make money in this industry.
But unfortunately it’s far too labor intensive for the kind of operations successful vertical farmers want to create. But that hasn’t stopped people’s curiosity. An overview of the process of growing hydroponic saffron (what I called “purple gold” back then) is still our most searched article on the site. And the AP recently (edit: to be honest, I have a whole back log of posts I need to get out, so it’s not really that recent. Things at the farm have been rocking and I’m working hard to get back on track here) did their own version of the story that you can check out here.
Briefly, there are efforts in the United States to research this crop as a potential income source but it’s still held back by the amount of labor it takes to process it. The article doesn’t mention the labor issue, but it does mention another hurdle: there really isn’t a market for it. And not because people don’t want it, but because people don’t grow it so wholesale purchasers don’t even look to buy it.
The AP story also quotes someone calling it “red gold,” but I still like purple better…