In the lush and fecund Willamette Valley soil, within two greenhouses backing up to an ancient temporal rainforest running for hundreds of miles in all directions, Oregon native Tanya Golden has built and launched her own saffron farm.
Yes. I said saffron; at $5,000 per kg, it’s the most expensive spice on earth.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus,” and its high retail value is maintained on world markets because of labor-intensive harvesting methods, which require some 200,000 saffron stigmas to be hand-picked from 70,000 crocus flowers for each 1 pound (0.45 kg) of saffron product – work traditionally performed by women.
A great example of what Anti-Fragile Playbook co-author Ruth Glendinning refers to as “women’s work” – the high-value labor that’s typically devalued, demeaned, and ignored.
While it’s believed that saffron originated in Iran, researchers may have been domesticated in or near Greece during the Bronze Age.
Saffron’s recorded history is attested in a 7th-century BC Assyrian botanical treatise, and has been traded and used for thousands of years. Its use in food, medicine, and art remain central to Iran’s culture; one of the oldest and richest continuous civilizations on earth.
Interesting aside: Tanya boasts deep roots in skateboard culture, and has been featured in books, articles, and videos due to her participation in the Burnside skateboard park; a 30-year experiment in semi-autonomous self-governance, cited by author Keith Hamm as heralding “the second coming of the skatepark,” and discussed in prior Anti-Fragile Playbook podcast episodes.
Several years ago, a fellow skateboarder contacted Tanya if there was anything she might want from Israel. He was in the region building a community skateboard park. High-quality concrete skateboard parks are a high-prestige global export from America’s Pacific Northwest, built by craftsmen and women who have cut their teeth for 30 years building and maintaining the Burnside skatepark; a depth of experience and skill found nowhere else on earth.
A natural healer deeply in touch with her own family’s indigenous traditions, a girl taught by her grandmothers why it’s proper to walk with reverence while barefoot at the feet of 200-foot trees, in open communion with the forest’s ageless voices, foraging with reverence for berries and mushrooms, Tanya recognized an opportunity to pursue a vision which had restlessly eaten at her imagination:
How to inspire a community to collaborate on a solution that benefits all, beginning with the women.
As Tanya says with great poignancy: “just how hard to I have to work to have the right to say no?”
Tanya’s vision pairs indigenous and vulnerable women with a female mentor to learn valuable skills and crafts, in time graduating to become part of the matronage to extend the benefit to others, thus allowing her to transition her business into a 501(c)(3), using the community activation app by 214 Alpha.
She aspires to sponsor a self-sufficient, self-governing community for indigenous and vulnerable women, inspiring threads of cross-cultural pollination and support.
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