Angela Argyle from Argyle Australian Saffron has shared with us her journey of growing saffron with her husband after moving to the Central West in 2016. Saffron wasn’t necessarily part of the dream in the beginning, though a having a passion for amazing produce and the discovery of learning the Orange climate was perfect growing conditions for what is sometimes referred to as ‘Good as Gold’ felt like the perfect business to start after their tree-change.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My name is Angela Argyle, I am 42 and I live in Nashdale with my husband Brendon and our two girls Poppy (4) and Saffron (2). I grew up on a Beef and wheat farm just outside Tamworth, studied Visual Arts at Uni (I still paint), and have spent most of my career (and continue to do so as my “day job”) in Financial Services. Brendon is a kiwi, and has spent most of his career in charity fundraising, and he now heads up sales for The Orange App here in Orange.
Where did you choose to live in the Central West region?
It took us a long time to choose, but the key drivers were it is easily drivable to Sydney to see family and friends, has great education and medical facilities and resources, and is a culturally diverse and developing town. We also liked the growing food, wine and arts scene and saw a lot of potential for growing a business here.
Did you have an epiphany to move and start this business?
Not to move. Although I loved all 20 years of living in Sydney, my country upbringing has always coursed strongly through my veins and I always swore once I had kids I would go regional. In regards to the business, we originally moved out here to start a fruit pickers accommodation business, but after some horrendous experiences with councils backflipping on us and costing us unmentionable money, we had to pivot fast and come up with a new plan. I always had it in my head that we wanted to farm something boutique, and then one day we saw a saffron farmer on Landline, and it piqued my interest, so much so, that the next day I called the farmer directly to find out more. We have not looked back from that day, it changed our lives.
How large is your saffron farm? Are you increasing the volume of saffron you produce each year?
Our property is on 10 acres, however at the moment the saffron only takes up around 2 acres of this. Saffron multiplies in the ground, so each year we get 2-3 times the harvest as the previous year. Having said that, we are still selling out in a matter of months each year, so we will be expanding our crop substantially in 2022,
Why is the process of locally grown saffron higher quality than imported saffron?
The importation of saffron into Australia is unregulated, so unfortunately some of the time you are not actually buying saffron, but a dyed substitute which obviously does not hold flavour or any of the other benefits of saffron. The quality of saffron itself comes down to lots of variables, but soil, harvest processes, and how each farm dries the saffron are big factors. In Australia we tend to be a lot more focused on the quality of the end product, and so for example, we trim the stigmas carefully so you only get the most potent and active part of the stigma called the Negin. In our production, we actually use a different drying process to anyone else in Australia, and very unique to the world where we introduce humidity when we are drying. This has been proven to instantly lock in maximum colour, flavour and aroma by coating the red stigmas as they dry. The general feedback is that our saffron is much more potent than others, and therefore you use less per dish!
Are you planning to run workshops or tours so people can experience saffron farming?
Yes!! For the first time this year, likely around mid April, we are offering tours through Country Food Trails, to come and pick, strip and dry your own saffron. Tickets will be quite limited, so if you want to come and experience saffron farming first hand, register on our website for first access to tickets!
Tell us a fun fact?
Saffron is great for PMS, libido, and lots of other amazing health benefits! We are releasing a saffron facial oil in a few months time!
Where can families find your saffron when out and about in the Central West? To buy and to enjoy on a menu?
Straight from our website, and we deliver locally the next day!
We are also used by a couple of restaurants, Charred and Lolli Redini in Orange are regular users!
Would you like to share one of your personal special recipes?
Sure, my favourite is Saffron and rosewater lamingtons which you can find recipe here.