The Eden Project

Saturday, July 4, 2009

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the places I visited in Cornwall was the Eden Project. Cornwall used to have a lot of open-pit mining of white china clay, which left some scars on the landscape. The Eden Project, started in 2001, fills one of these old pits with a one-of-a-kind collection of plant life scattered around outside and, most impressively, in two sets of gigantic "biomes", which look like geodesic soap bubbles clinging to the side of the valley.

The Biomes

Inside the larger set of bubbles they're recreated rain forest conditions from a few different areas of the globe, including some I will visit (like Malaysia). Walking in there was like walking into a wall of water - the temperature wasn't that hot, but the humidity was about 90%, so we weren't half way through before our shirts were sticking to our backs. If all of Asia is like that, I may just elect to come back to England for a bit. (For those in Saskatoon - think of the Mendel Art Gallery Conservatory, multiplied by a thousand.)

Yes, that's a waterfall, inside the bubble.

Besides the plants, they also had little vignettes set up that showed how people live in the various areas, with bamboo huts, and emergency shelters and such. And they spend a lot of time trying to educate visitors about environmental issues, food politics and sustainability. For instance, I honestly had no idea this is what pineapples look like when they're growing. ( And don't try and tell me you did...)

It's like they're growing out of little tufts of tall grass. Honestly, if I thought about it at all I thought they grew on trees like coconuts.

The other biome had a much more temperate Mediterranean set-up, so we had a look around there too. We also had a wander around outside, though it was a really odd sensation after being in the biomes. I kept having to remind myself that we actually really were outside, because the biomes are so big and well-designed.

It was also interesting to learn a bit more about the Eden Project, which isn't just about chucking a load of plants into an old clay pit. They're all super enviro-friendly, and community-minded and such. They've got solar power, and rain water recycling, and a little tractor train running on bio-diesel that's used to ferry around the lazy and infirm.

The propaganda that comes in the guide to the place is filled with high-minded talk:

"Eden is about spectacle, education, the application of science and social change... Burning underneath all this is a passion to bring together the batallions of business with the forces of social responsibilty to forge a new social contract capable of harnessing the power and expertise of the former to the needs of the latter."

Err.. what ever. I just has a nice time looking at the plants, and marveling at the engineering of the biomes, and looking pensive at the highly meaningful seed/pinecone/egg sculpture thingy in the middle of one of the newer buildings.

Me, and the seed

And that was my day at the Eden Project. The next time you're in Cornwall, check it out. And have a pasty.


Chris said...

That looks so cool...I had never heard of it, but def on my list of things to see now. I thought pineapples grow on trees too!! Haha

Karen said...

OK, some of us HAVE actually seen how pineapples grow. ;-) But, it is interesting to see for the first time for sure.

Sounds like a super interesting place.

Phonella said...

Witty and informative -- just the kind of posts you specialize in!

Loved the shot of you and the seed.

Oh, and I didn't have a clue about how pineapples grew.

Anonymous said...

Do you miss me? :)

Cool pictures.


Anonymous said...

Love the bubbles. Who knew pinapples grow in grass..not me. Great postings..very informative and interesting.Sounds like you're having the time of your life.

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