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Create your own slice of Freaky Nature at home

May 29, 2011
Author: Hannah


As part of our Freaky Nature with Poo! season, we introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of plants – and tell you everything there is to know about poo.

If you can’t make it to Eden’s Freaky Nature with Poo! event this week, or have visited and loved the exhibits so much, why not explore Freaky Nature at home?

We’ve put together a freaky collection of things to help kids explore the weird and wonderful world of plants and, er, indulge their curiosity on poo. These are available at Eden and also in our online shop. Just click on the titles to read more about them.

Weird and wonderful plant kits
Grow your very own fly-eating sundew plant, square-shaped tomatoes, or sensitive mimosa – which closes its leaves when you gently touch it. These kits contain all you need to get started. 

Freaky Nature keyring
See nature up close with this magnifying keyring. Whip it out in the garden to see plants and bugs in detail.

Resurrection plant
Bring a plant back from the dead with this easy-to-grow kit. When you water it, the plant will come to life and settle down in your home.

A book packed full of poos
The Story of the Little Mole tells the tale of a plucky little hero who sets out to find who has left their ‘business’ on his head. His highly entertaining and informative search reveals an important but often neglected side of life.

Bug safari kit
Discover the amazing world of mini beasts right outside your door using this bug collecting kit, which includes tongs, lens, magnifying pot, tweezers, brush and bug guide book.

Grow your own monsters book
Create a death-trap for flies, a cabbage that turns into a walking stick, a living space rocket, or a cucumber with a secret weapon… This book explains how to grow nine exotic monster plants.

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Local businesses cut money and carbon thanks to Eden training

May 27, 2011
Author: Hannah

We’ve collected together some really inspiring stories from the Cornish businesses who’ve taken part in Eden’s sustainability course since it began in September.

Over 100 individuals, from middle management to shop floor operators, in sectors as diverse as toy manufacturing and catering, have been through Green Foundation – and every single one of them has told us that their business has benefited.

Dominic Boothroyd from the National Lobster Hatchery, who completed the 10-day programme in April, says he’s already enjoying lower water and energy bills thanks to a few really simple changes in office habits. He says ‘Green Foundation has given me the opportunity to see how simple changes within the business can make our businesses more environmentally sustainable, while at the same time reducing on-going costs.’

Jo Major, of toy manufacturers Worlds Apart, says she’s come away with the contacts she needs to start introducing changes like green IT solutions and low-energy lighting. ‘Meeting other people from different organisations and establishing links with those who could provide further advice has been invaluable,’ she says. ‘Green Foundation was fantastic and the enthusiasm that Eden portrayed during those 10 days really gave it a buzz,’ she adds.

The course is held in Eden’s ‘living classroom’, where participants get to go behind the scenes and see how Eden staff have found practical solutions to sustainability issues themselves. Green Foundation also includes a business exchange with a like-minded company in the county, which gives participants the chance to network and collaborate.

Bude Meat’s Co-director Steve Mobbs, for example, has joined together with a fellow Green Foundation participant to set up an online retail outlet to market local meat and vegetables alongside his regular business. He tells us: ‘Without the impetus of Green Foundation, I don’t think I’d have gained the extra enthusiasm. It has had a very positive effect on not just myself and the business, but also the local businesses I source from.’

There are still free places on the European Social Fund financed Green Foundation programme, for individuals from small- to medium-sized enterprises in Cornwall. Find out why you should join, on the Green Foundation website. Or call 01726 818597 to claim your free place.

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Business, Climate change, Cornwall, Green Foundation, Sustainability
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Raising the bog standards in Eden’s loos

May 26, 2011
Author: Hannah


As part of our Freaky Nature with Poo! season, we introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of plants – and tell you everything there is to know about poo.

 

While we’re on the subject of toilets, for our Freaky Nature with Poo! season, we thought we’d share the secrets behind Eden’s hundreds of environmentally friendly loos.

1. They’re rainwater harvesting
Our 245 toilets and urinals are flushed using rain and ground water that has run off the roofs of the Biomes and collected in the bottom of our site, a former china clay pit.

So why does that matter in such a rainy country, you might ask. It matters because conventional lavatories draw on mains water which has been cleaned to drinking water standards; an energy-intensive operation.

Instead, our water undergoes a much simpler cleaning process before it’s pumped to the washrooms. So while it’s not up to drinking water cleanliness, and is tinged slightly brown, no one drinks out of toilets anyway!

2. They’re cleaned using very few chemicals
Our housekeeping team has worked hard to reduce the number of chemicals they use when keeping them clean. Some chemicals in cleaning products can kill life in rivers, streams and oceans by causing dense algal blooms that suffocate other species – so the team has chosen the most biodegradable cleaning products available. They’re also not tested on animals.

One of their favourite cleaning products is based on citrus peel, which is a natural degreasing ingredient. The team is also trialling durable and washable micro fibre cloths, which should reduce chemical use by 80%, by trapping bacteria within the fibres.

3. We’ve got state-of-the-art hand dryers
We’ve got several Dyson Airblades, a hand dryer which uses around 80% less energy than other hand dryers. The machine dries hands in 10 seconds by releasing pressurised air, travelling at more than 400 miles an hour, through an aperture the width of an eyelash.

We also provide Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) handtowels. That basically means the FSC has certified that the paper is produced from well-managed forests.

4. Our soap is palm oil-free
We’ve chosen a soap that doesn’t contain ingredients from the oil palm, whose cultivation has been linked to deforestation in the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. This is in line with our policy to buy no more new products that contain palm oil, and to work with our suppliers to investigate alternatives and reconfigure recipes and production methods.

5. Even the bin bags are recycled
Would you believe it, but the bags started out as agricultural materials like bale wrap and crop covers? Some of them have been designed to biodegrade within 18 months.

p.s. We’re dead chuffed that our toilets have won us a much coveted Loo of the Year Award before, and they’ve retained their ‘gold standard’ for the last seven years. Make sure you come and use them when you visit!

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Eden celebrates power of plants at Chelsea Flower Show

May 25, 2011
Author: Hannah

The Eden team has been busy helping put together a show stand at the Chelsea Flower Show, in London, which has just been awarded a silver medal.

The WorldSkills plot, which features two brides clothed in eco wedding dresses, amidst a riot of gorgeous flowers, showcases the power of plants and what can be achieved when they’re combined with skills and human ingenuity.

So they called on us to help bring this alive for visitors with the kind of facts, figures and stories that we’re known for here at our own educational gardens.

Visitors to the show stand can explore the garden and its touch screens to find out the innovative ways humans use and cultivate plants, ranging from bamboo in China and cotton in India to flax from Canada and even fabrics made from wood pulp.

The two wedding dresses on display were created from bamboo and silk by dressmaker Julie Dutton, while the planting scheme was designed by TV presenter and garden designer Chris Beardshaw, a recent panellist on Gardeners’ Question Time in our Mediterranean Biome earlier this year.

The garden display combines bamboo with more traditional cottage garden plants used for dyes (such as marigolds and foxgloves), wedding bouquets (including peonies and roses) and scented fabrics (rosemary and lavender).

The global vocational membership association WorldSkills International has created the stand to help promote this October’s WorldSkills event, a sort of skills Olympics during which teams of young people battle it out to be the best at their chosen skills, from landscape gardening to robotics.

At Chelsea WorldSkills is offering people the chance to try their hand at a few plant- and wedding-related skills there and then, including making jewellery, creating corsages and using fresh flowers in hairstyles.

But the link between Eden and WorldSkills goes further than just plants, explains Eden’s Howard Jones. The two organisations are also about ‘getting people involved, inspiring the thoughts and deeds of people, changing entrenched attitudes; encouraging enterprise, innovation and skills to promote balance and achievement across society’.

Howard leads Eden’s work on equipping people, particularly those who’ve been marginalised from society, with the skills they need to get ahead in life. Through programmes like Growing for Life, which started off as a horticulture session in Dartmoor prison, Eden has celebrated some fantastic successes with these groups, including winning two silver medals at the Chelsea Flower Show together.

Visit the stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from 24-28 May 2011.

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Badly Drawn Boy and Seth Lakeman announced as new acts for Eden Sessions

May 25, 2011
Author: Hannah

Acclaimed singer-songwriters Badly Drawn Boy and Seth Lakeman are coming to Eden to perform at this summer’s one-day Sessions.

Badly Drawn Boy, otherwise known as Damon Gough, will be playing in the picturesque Mediterranean Biome on June 30, before the evening headliner The Flaming Lips take to the main stage.

He’ll be joined on the Biotik stage by other acts, including Liam Frost and The Travelling Band, who have teamed up to support the charity Manchester Aid to Kosovo, which Eden has worked with on an urban peace park.

Dartmoor folk phenomenon Seth Lakeman will play on June 23, before Primal Scream headline the evening on the main stage with their Screamadelica Live show.

The Biotik stage in the Mediterranean Biome (right, where the Boxettes played in 2010) will offer live music from noon on each Sessions day, giving the series of gigs a proper festival feel.

Last year, extra daytime activities included massage therapy in the Med Biome, break dancing and a 1920s flapper dancing performance.

The best thing is that each Sessions ticket gives you free entry into Eden during the whole day of the concert, plus the day after!

Check out the full line-up, get a taster of performers’ music and buy tickets.

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Eden Sessions, Music

Cornish community allotment creates traditional African keyhole garden

May 24, 2011
Author: Hannah

Families just down the road from Eden, in the village of Penwithick, have created a special garden based on a traditional African design (right).

During an open day at the Penwithick Community Allotment, residents pitched in to create the communal garden, in which a raised circular bed is built around a central compost pit. The idea is that everyone who tends to the garden contributes to the compost pit, which in turn benefits the plants.

The keyhole garden was such a hit that it prompted one of the residents to donate a large amount of chicken manure, which is giving the newly planted peas, spring onions, sprouting broccoli and salad leaves, a flying start.

Residents were invited along as part of the Eden Project’s Seeds, Soup and Sarnies programme, which encourages people to grow, cook, eat and share produce with their families and the local community.

Claire Harris, who helped to organise the open day, said: ‘The community allotment is a fantastic opportunity for the families in Penwithick to experience the adventure of growing and the pride of eating their very own fruit and veg.’

The Seeds, Soup and Sarnies group (below) meets every Thursday morning from 10am to 12 noon in the Penwithick Community Centre and start off with a cup of tea and a chat about their growing and cooking successes. When the weather is fine, the group garden in the community allotment. Contact Cornwall Family Learning on 01872 327520 if you’d like to join in.

Or why not use these instructions to create your own African keyhole garden?

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Introducing… the plant that climbs and climbs

May 24, 2011
Author: Hannah


As part of our Freaky Nature season, we introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of plants – poisonous ones, spiky ones, carnivorous ones and even exploding plants.

Today’s freaky specimen: Calico flower
(Aristolochia littoralis)

The deep-coloured, trumpet-like flowers of this Brazilian vine emit a smell of rotting flesh to attract the flies that pollinate it. The Calico flower is also a rampant climber, with its heart-shaped leaves and slender woody stems twining in tight coils around other plants. Thanks to its flat, winged seeds, which are carried in the wind like little parachutes, the plant can spread very, very quickly…

Come and find it in our Rainforest Biome if you dare.

Meet the other freaky plants in our series.

 

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Introducing…the plant that gets on with ants

May 23, 2011
Author: Tom


As part of our Freaky Nature season, we introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of plants – poisonous ones, spiky ones, carnivorous ones and even exploding plants.

Today’s freaky specimen: Ant Plant
(Myrmecodia)

The Myrmecophytes (Ant Plants) tend to be epiphytes – plants that grows above ground level and often use another plant for support. The tunnels in the knobbly base of these plants provide a home for ants. But this is not a one-way relationship: the ten’ants’ help their landlord by providing valuable nutrients for the plant from their deposited waste inside the plant and by protecting the plant from being eaten by pests and grazers.

There is a catch for the plant as sometimes the presence of the ants put off pollinating insects; to overcome this the plant pollinates itself. Symbiosis with small print!

The Ant Plant grows in the Rainforest Biome at Eden.

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Introducing… the plant that looks like a stone

May 23, 2011
Author: Hannah


As part of our Freaky Nature season, we introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of plants – poisonous ones, spiky ones, carnivorous ones and even exploding plants.

Today’s freaky specimen: Pebble plant (Lithops)

This fascinating little specimen is commonly known as ‘pebble plant’ or ‘living stone’ in its native southern Africa. Its scientific name is derived from the Ancient Greek words lithos, meaning ‘stone’, and ops, meaning ‘face’.

The plant’s leaves are mostly buried below the surface of the soil, but it puts on a tremendous show with its bright yellow flowers. See if you can spot one in the Mediterranean Biome.

Meet the other freaky plants in our series.

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Don’t get caught out on the beach: sign up for sewage warnings

May 20, 2011
Author: Hannah


As part of our Freaky Nature with Poo! season, we introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of plants – and tell you everything there is to know about poo.

Visitors to our Freaky Nature with Poo! exhibit at the end of the month will get to take part in our flush game, where they experience what happens when you pull the chain and see where everything all goes.

It might sound like just a bit of fun for the kids, but it’s actually been put together with the help of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS – right), the grassroots movement founded by surfers who were literally ‘sick of getting sick’ after going in the sea.

This month the environmental pressure group has just launched a useful online map and texting service that lets people know, in real-time, when raw sewage is being released near beaches. There are around 8,000 coastline sewer overflows which occasionally do just this, and a further 14,000 sited near inland watercourses. 

This way, the beach-going public can avoid any short-term pollution incidents from these overflows on their favourite beach or surf spot.

Thanks to participation by South West Water, Southern Water and Welsh Water, the map covers about 50 beaches in the South West – and SAS says that a map covering the whole of Britain is… in the pipeline!

Check out the map or sign up for the text sewage alert service.

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