Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Eden Project

In August we at Sorazora managed to take a quick break between events in our busy festival season and headed on down to Cornwall for a flying visit. We only had a couple of days before driving back to Devon for our next event. With limited time and many things on our must-see list, we knew we could only scrape the surface of what's on offer in beautiful Cornwall.

The first port of call was the Eden Project near St. Austell. This was an attraction I had heard people talk about, but knew little about. At Sorazora we are passionate about all aspects of the environment and rely on plants for our natural fibre clothing and also for our natural dye techniques. This was the deciding factor that put the Eden Project at the top of our must-see list whilst in Cornwall.

These large connecting domes (called Biomes) were built in a 160 year old disused clay mine to mark the year 2000. The conservatories are not only the biggest, but also home to the worlds' largest captive rainforest. The Eden Project is a unique organisation as it is not just a tourist attraction, but also an educational charity and social enterprise.

There are many ongoing conservation research projects both local and global with key issues such as tackling waste, sustainable construction and ethical buying. The project plays a large role in  environmental education and has a lot to capture the attention and imagination of both school groups and general visitors.

I was amazed to see a tropical rainforest of such a size here in the UK and totally blown away by the engineering feat behind it all. How do you even begin to develop a conservatory that will house around a million plants from nearly 4000 species?

The plants and trees in the tropical Biome require not just humidity, heat and lots of water, but also a rich and organic soil that can hold all the water needed for such rapid growth. The Project did not want to deprive anyone of soil, so they made 83,000 tonnes by collecting minerals from local mine waste, sand and clay from clay works and combining it all with composted bark for the organic matter.

The humidity is quite something and I imagine many a native from these shores would not feel comfortable spending too long in the tropical biome. The humidity is all automated by misters that maintain 90% humidity at night and around 60% during the day. Rainwater draining into the disused quarry provides almost half of the project's water needs.

If you are ever in the area, I strongly recommend that you allow a few hours to check out this amazing place. For a whole wealth of information about The Eden Project, please click on the following link which will take you to the official website.