Sunday, 1 May 2011

Eden Project, Cornwall

Last week was our third visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall. We saw the site soon after it opened, again about five year’s ago, and returned during its 10th anniversary year. It’s probably my favourite visitor attraction in the UK and, not surprisingly, ecology and food plants are central to its vision.

There was major flooding over the winter, which destroyed the stage and ice rink area and inundated the low-lying restaurant between the biomes. Typically, rather than see this is an unmitigated disaster, Tim Smit and his team saw it as an opportunity to establish the bakery that they had always wanted, and put it at the heart of the project. It was back to basics – with long functional wooden refectory tables across the hall; along two of them apprentice bakers work to make loaves, pizza, croissants, and other food for sale. The Eden Bakery is a distinct feature, and the minimalism suits the place.

Restaurants and cafes in other parts of the site continue in the more traditional manner, while a stall sells tasty Tuscan Bean Stew and Catalan Fish Stew in the Mediterranean area.

You can see some of the food being grown in the GrowZone, a demonstration allotment that has expanded in recent years.

There was drama as we were walking around the Rainforest Biome. We heard a very loud cracking noise, and branches of a tree started to fall onto the path. On being informed of this, the staff went quickly into action; understandable as the tree in question was toxic - apparently being used for poison-tipped darts. The hot air balloon was launched within the biome, drastic pruning was undertaken, and the area reopened promptly.

The new rainforest lookout gives spectacular views down onto the trees. It’s very hot up there!

To help celebrate the Eden Project’s tenth anniversary, Cardiff-based NoFit State Circus will be performing a new show there in August.

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