TAHOKA, Texas – A family-owned farm in Tahoka specializes in growing the most expensive spice in the world, saffron.
In the last three years, Meraki Meadows has grown saffron, a spice that could sell for a minimum of $9,000 a pound.
Karl McDonald came across the idea to grow saffron during the COVID-19 pandemic. McDonald and his family quickly found that the West Texas climate was a perfect fit for the Crocus flower and ordered 20,000 Crocus Sativus bulbs from the Netherlands.
“He ordered 20,000 bulbs and we had no idea what saffron was but he ordered the bulbs and then that Labor Day after COVID we started planting it, and it has just grown from there,” said Brazos Beck, a family member and a part of Meraki Meadows.
But it’s not the exquisite flavor that makes the spice expensive; it’s the labor. The process of tending to these delicate flowers is required to be done by hand.
“It’s definitely hard, and it takes lots of time. Just for a month, it’s a lot of work. After it grows you get to pick and this starts the hands-on experience, the picking and the processing. That’s the most time-consuming part,” said Kaden McDonald, a family member and a part of Meraki Meadows.
The family was able to reduce the planting time from 3 weeks to 42 hours by engineering a mechanism on the back of a tractor that allows them to plant several bulbs as it goes.
For a family of 10, in just a span of two days, they have hand-picked and processed over 2,000 flowers.
“There’s so many flowers, I mean, we have to pick just about every day so that they don’t get wilted and get bad. Then once we pick them, we take them in here and get to separate them out piece by piece — like you tear the red part off and that’s the part that it’s actually used for,” said Beck.
Meraki Meadows is the only commercial saffron farm in Texas. The family business hopes it can supply the luxurious spice across the country.
“That’s one of my favorite things about saffron. It just makes us all come together and spend a lot of time with each other, share a lot of stories, but I mean, the goal is to just survive this year and plant more and go to the next,” said Andrea McDonald, a family member a part of Meraki Meadows.
You can visit Meraki Meadows’ website here for more information.