Easter Sunday, 12 April 2009, saw Colin and I visiting the Eden Project. That weekend was our first in Cornwall, a landscape that, unexpectedly for us, showed the scars of one of its major exports, china clay (or kaolin, the main ingredient in kaolin and morphine tummy medicine). One of the china clay pits dotting the area had been transformed into the popular Eden Project, an attempt to join together popular interest in gardening with a focus on sustainability and ecological awareness, and housing two of the world’s largest greenhouses or biomes.Despite Nancy the Navigator’s best efforts, we arrived at 10 am, and were instantly impressed at how well organised the site is – fruit themed car parks, and regular shuttle buses to the main site. (You get a reduced fee entry if you arrive on foot or by car).
By agreeing to allow the organisation to claim back gift aid, we were able to have a years’ membership. And then we were off, zigzagging our way down into the main part of the ex-pit, with stunning views of the biomes and the outdoor space.
Did you know that daffodils contain a substance which can be used to treat Alzheimer’s? Do you know about the medicinal properties of other fairly everyday plants? The medicinal value of plants is just one of the themes on the outside space – anyone into herbs will be delighted. There is also a focus on crops, and traditional tulips and daffs in that outside space. Its also where you’ll meet WEEE man, who makes you confront all the electrical equipment that you’re destined to throw out in a lifetime. A vivid and original demonstration of our throwaway society.
And then to the biome –
The sustainability exhibits in the corewere innovative, but could have gone much further, for example exploring different energy sources in a much more balanced way; as it is sustainability is presented as very much a black and white (or should that be green and white?) choice, with no recognition of issues around security of supply, or the very very real everyday choices which a significant number of people have to make between energy efficiency and affordability. Perhaps they could use the site to host meetings or events by National Energy Action to raise awareness of this particular issue, and work with energy companies much more than they seem to be doing.
Those issues aside, the site provided a highly enjoyable and worthwhile day out. Worthwhile, not worthy, which a venue like this could spillover into.
A great day out, and one which should be even more stunning in the height of summer.