The Eden project is one of the top attractions in Cornwall. Since it opened in 17 March 2001 it has contributed £2 billion to the local economy and received 20 m visitors! Impressive numbers! It is a great story as it was built on an old china clay pit which was a huge crater and blot on the landscape (see Eden Project’s photo below). Tim Smit had a vision to transform it to produce a showcase for the world’s most important plants. It went from being drawn on a pub napkin to completion in just two years.

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Now dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World by some, the Eden Project is a dramatic global garden housed in tropical biomes. See Eden Project’s picture above. Apparently the biomes came about because a member of the design team noticed that bubbles in washing up have great stability on uneven ground! Rainforest Biome is the world’s largest greenhouse. The Eden Project was recognised by the British Travel Awards as the Best UK Leisure Attraction for 5 years running from 2011. We must try and visit it this year!

The Eden project is an educational charity and it is looking at the interaction with us and the living world exploring how we can work towards a better future. It is fast-becoming a unique resource for education and knowledge towards a sustainable future. It is great to read this.

They reduce their water usage in a variety of ways, ranging from taps that turn themselves off through to using harvested rain and ground water to irrigate our plants. About two-thirds of our water needs are provided from water we collect on site.

They are currently working with Plymouth University to examine how to make its man-made soil sustainable in future. 83,000-tonne top soil, which is 1m (3ft) deep and made from a mix of local waste products from the china clay pit, has never been replaced as it would not be viable logistically or financially. Apparently most glass houses change their soil every five years to remove pests and diseases. Researchers from Plymouth University are now analysing the soil biology. The research was about how to manage the soil going forward and make it as resilient as possible including from climate change. They said their discoveries could help to protect top soils elsewhere from the effects of climate change.

In Cornwall Today January edition, I was surprised to read that the Eden Project is planning to expand outside Cornwall and has revealed its vision for Eden Project North in Morecambe Lancashire which is to build a seaside resort for the 21st Century! Their partners Lancaster University, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council are seeking funding. Central to the vision is a series of pavilions inspired by mussels which would house lidos, gardens, performance areas, observatories etc. Their plan is to connect “people with the natural environment of Morecambe Bay and help the regeneration of the area socially, economically and environmentally”. I love the idea of the mussel shaped pavilions. It will be interesting to follow the progress of this project.

The Eden Project are also partnering with like minded organisations to establish collaborative Eden projects across the globe including China to help deliver social and ecological benefits. Fascinating.

Back in Cornwall, a couple of interesting events are being held this year at the Eden Project: the World Pastry Championships on 2 March And Kylie Minogue concerts on July 2 and 3rd! Other concerts are planned and the pop stars are to be announced. See the website

An interesting fact is that the Eden Project was used as a filming location for the 2002 James Bond film, Die Another Day (starring Pierce Brosnan).

Many of you will have heard about the soldiers faces drawn in the sand of 32 beaches around the UK on Sunday 11 November as part of Pages of the Sea, Danny Boyle’s Armistice Day commission marking the 100th anniversary of the ending of the war. I did not realise the Eden Project, with support from The Lost Gardens of Heligan, led the ones at Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, East Looe Beach, Perranporth Beach and Saunton Sands in Devon.  There was also an event at Porthcurno Beach near Land’s End where the National Trust took the lead. The soldiers whose faces were on these beaches were Archie Jewell at Perranporth, Captain Edward Teddy Hain at Portmeor, St Ives, Captain Kenneth Walton Grigson at East Looe and Lieutenant Richard Charles Graves Sawle at Porthcurno. Very poignant that they were actual soldiers’ faces. The large scale portraits were designed by sand artists Sand in Your Eye and drawn below the high tide line, allowing them to be washed away as the sea came back in, offering a moment for everyone to say a collective goodbye.  A brilliant and fantastic idea. Photo from Cornwallalive website.

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