The story behind our baobab smoothies

July 30, 2011
Author: Hannah

Harvest festival header

If you’re in need of some refreshment in the steamy Rainforest Biome this summer, try one of our unusual baobab smoothies.

They’re made from the pods that grow on Africa’s iconic baobab trees – the ones with the stout trunks and spreading canopies.

The trees in our Biome are only tiny, so the fruit in these smoothies come from communities in Southern Africa, who are harvesting the pods to increase their income.

Working in partnership with charity PhytoTrade Africa, families on the continent are harvesting the abundant fruits to help them pay for family healthcare, children’s education and household necessities.

Because they’re earning money from baobab they have an incentive to protect the trees – which is good news for baobab woodlands and the biodiversity that they support.

Traditionally, African people eat the leaves of the baobab, which can be pounded to make a relish. They also use the fibrous bark to make ropes, baskets and fishing nets. But PhytoTrade Africa is encouraging the commercial production of goods which come from the fruit and seeds only, so that the trees aren’t harmed by a large demand for their bark or leaves.

The fruits are large ovoid pods with a woody shell and a velvety yellow-green coating. Inside you can see large, oil-rich seeds, powder and fibres. It’s this powder that goes into the smoothies – and also into the Victoria Sponge cake we sell in several of our cafes.

Drop by our baobab smoothie stall in the Rainforest Biome and you’ll see some of the fruits on display.

Harvest festival footer

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How to make your own juggling balls

July 29, 2011
Author: Guest

Recycle unwanted pieces of fabric to create and customise your own juggling balls!

Stuff you need:

  • Material – cotton is best because it doesn’t stretch. Use an old item of clothing or bedding – the more colourful the better!
  • Cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine – if you don’t have access to one you can always do it by hand.
  • Pearl barley – you can purchase this for most grocery stores; it’s usually in the same area as the dried beans.
  • Needle and thread


How to make your juggling balls:

Step 1. Take the cardboard and a ruler and draw out a triangle with each side measuring four inches. Cut the triangle out to create a template.

Step 2. Lay out your fabric.

Step 3. Using your cardboard template, mark and cut out 12 equal fabric triangles.

Step 4. Gather the triangles into groups of four – be creative and mix different coloured fabrics together.

Step 5. Sew each set together – using one as a base and three as each side of the triangle – make sure to leave a side open to add the pearl barley.

Step 6. Fill the bags with equal amounts of the pearl barley and sew the last open side together to create a sealed bag.

Tip: Make sure the bags are kept dry, as the contents will swell!

Now, get juggling!

If you don't know how to juggle, you can learn with our video...

Blog by Rebecca Mitchell

With thanks to Jean Cunliffe

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Circus, How to, Play
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Eden Project's 10 tips for gardeners in August

July 28, 2011
Author: Tom

1. Keep watering and feeding your plants throughout this typically hot and dry month.

2. If you go on holiday, ask a friend to keep up the watering, feeding, deadheading, and harvesting in your garden. You could even repay them with produce from your garden. If you can’t find anyone to help out, you could invest in an automatic watering system.

3. When your courgettes start fruiting make sure you keep harvesting them. That way you’ll get young, tender courgettes rather than giant marrows.

4. Pick off cabbage white caterpillars from your cabbages and other brassicas. You can prevent the butterflies from laying their eggs in the first place by covering your plants with a fine mesh.

5. Plant out brassicas, such as kale and sprouts, now and they’ll be ready in the winter. Planting them deeply promotes strong growth.

6. There’s still time to sow quick-growing veg, such as spinach. You can sow the seeds quite thickly and then pull out the thinner shoots. This is a great way of using up spare patches in your garden.

7. Prevent slug and snail damage to your plants by using wildlife-friendly slug pellets, which won’t harm other visitors to your garden. You could also try using a vegetable table, to get your plants up off the ground and out of harm's way.

8. Harvest your herbs, such as coriander, dill and basil, and use them in your cooking.

9. Sow seeds for biennial plants that will flower next year, such as foxgloves and forget-me-nots.

10. Enjoy your garden! Make the most of the good weather to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

With thanks to Catherine Cutler

Gardening, Horticulture, Potting shed, Shop
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Make your own board game

July 26, 2011
Author: admin

As part of our Festival of Play season, we’re offering loads of ideas for games and activities on the themes of outdoor play and circus fun to keep your kids occupied this summer.

Here’s a great rainy day activity. We’ve designed a simple board game based on the Eden site. All you need to do is print it out, colour it in, make some counters (perhaps use coins or mini figures) and get hold of a dice.

Download the board game (PDF)

Blank version

We’ve also made a blank version of the game so that you can use your imagination to create your own ‘action squares’ in the game – instructions that will mean that players have to miss a turn, or jump forward two squares, for instance.

Download the blank board game (PDF)

Your own personalised game

Filling in the blank Eden game will help you get your creative juices going for the real fun of creating your own board game. Start with a blank sheet of paper and make a board that features your kids’ favourite natural places, such as the park, your local woods, or a beach that you’ve visited on holiday. Personalising the game will really help to get your kids excited about creating and playing it. If you’re particularly proud of your personalised game, why not tell us about it on this blog, or post a picture on our Facebook Wall?

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Enfleurage: how to extract perfume from plants

July 24, 2011
Author: Tom

Lisa Cronin, one of our Pollinators, has been explaining the method of enfleurage to visitors to Eden. This simple process captures the fragrance of a flower.

The tradition of creating perfume dates back thousands of years, and typically uses distillation to extract scents from flowers. The process of enfleurage (meaning 'to saturate flowers') was invented in the early 19th century in the area of Grasse in the south of France, and uses vegetable fat to absorb the smell of the most delicate flowers.

Lisa says: 'Originally the process was used to extract the scent from the delicate flower of jasmine, which would take around 65 changes of flowers every 24 hours: hence the often high expense of a quality jasmine-scented oil.'

Today for this demonstration, Lisa uses the wonderfully scented Burmese honeysuckle, grown in the Mediterranean Biome at the Eden Project:

Step 1. Construct an enfleurage chassis – this construction consists of two wooden frames both filled with glass that fit tight together. (Glass or china both work as plastic absorbs smells too much) Lisa tells us how you can create a chassis easily at home, ' by using a china bowl and plate as a lid'. In 19th-century France, silicone would not have been available, but to keep the chassis fairly airtight it is a good idea to use it!

Step 2. Find a good-quality vegetable fat and spread a layer over one pane of glass to about half a centimetre thick.

Step 3. Take the scented flower you have chosen to use (in this case Burmese honeysuckle is used but pretty much any honeysuckle would have a similar effect) and lay the flowers over the layer of fat. Be careful not to press the flower into the fat as the best scent comes from the lighter fragrance found in the air. With the Burmese honeysuckle used in this example the darker, more intense coloured flowers have the stronger smell.

Step 4. Lay the other part of the enfleurage chassis over the one containing the flowers and seal tight. Leave for about two days out of the sun at room temperature.

Step 5. After two days open the chassis and remove the flowers and repeat the process with freshly picked flowers. To get a good, strong-scented layer of fat, the process of renewing the flowers has to be done around four times.

Step 6. The fat should now have absorbed a good strong scent of the honeysuckle and can now be used to create a perfume. Now remove the flowers and scrape the fat into a bowl.

Step 7. In order to make a liquid form of the scent, ie a perfume, the fat needs to be mixed with alcohol. Ideally the stronger the alcohol the better, but vodka will work as it is without a scent of its own. Mix the fat with the vodka (or alcohol) to create a pomade with a smooth syrup-like texture.

Step 8. In order to remove the fat from the alcohol, it can be put into a container and frozen until the fat stays hard and the alcohol remains in liquid formation. The liquid removed can be bottled and used as perfume.

Tip: Alternatively you can create a solid perfume by simply removing the fat once it has been through the enfleurage process and sealed in a container to maintain the floral smell.

Skincare products in the Eden Shop

The new handmade skincare products in our online shop are made in Cornwall. Created using some of the most popular plants and flowers grown at Eden this organic range includes:

Blog by Rebecca Mitchell
Photos by Rosie Symonds

How to, Materials

NoFit State Circus's emerging stars

July 22, 2011
Author: Tom

NoFit State Circus will be performing Labyrinth exclusively at Eden this summer, and, like Eden, they are dedicated to supporting and encouraging new talent. Their apprentice scheme enables emerging performers to train intensively and individually with their professional artists, and then feature in the shows. This is based on the belief that there is no way better way to develop one's creativity and performance skills than performing to a live audience.

Kate-Inez ,  Zara and Blaze, profiled below, are just three examples of emerging stars on NoFit State apprenticeships who will be performing in the Labyrinth show at Eden this summer.

Kate-Inez Kieran profile

Birthplace: Cork, Ireland

Circus background: attended Circomedia in Bristol and trained at the Jonglier Katakomben in Berlin. She has spent the past year doing an apprenticeship with NoFit State.

Specialist performance skills: cloudswing, aerial hoop and corde lisse.

Most memorable performance: riding a triceratops in the parade at Trash City, Glastonbury Festival in 2009, with her sister in front of thousands.

Why she's looking forward to performing at Eden: 'getting to perform in such a spectacular space with such inspirational people'.

Zara Macbeth profile

Birthplace: Nailsworth, Gloucestershire

Circus background: she has always loved climbing and swinging on things and she decided she wanted to be an aerialist at the age of 10 when she saw a circus for the first time. She did a two-year BTEC in performance at Circomedia in Bristol and is now doing a year-long apprenticeship with NoFit State.

Specialist performance skills: swinging trapeze, rope and silks.

Most memorable performances: at the opening of Colston Hall in Bristol, in the Parklife show with NoFit State, and at her grandad's 80th birthday party.

Why she's looking forward to performing at Eden: 'I love circus and I love plants and I am very excited at the two things are going to be in the same place!'

Blaze Tarsha profile

Birthplace: Birmingham but grew up in Bath

Circus background: 'I was 14 when my mum ran away with the circus. She turned up one day at school to tell me and my teacher that I was leaving to go and tour with NoFit State circus. I was sad to leave school and my friends behind. However, NoFit State changed my aspirations, and I was told by one of the performers that there was a performance/circus college called Circomedia. I then completed my GCSEs and went on to achieve a Triple Distinction in Circus and Performance Arts. I stayed at Circomedia to do a Foundation Degree, which I finished this summer.

Specialist performance skills: aerial, mainly hoop, and physical theatre.

Most memorable performance: Performing Aerial hoop in an ensemble for Bristol’s Colston hall re-launch, in which we performed for thousands and had our very own live orchestra.

Why she’s looking forward to performing at Eden: 'I'm very excited about performing in Eden in such a beautiful atmosphere and I feel very privileged to be apart of such a huge and spectacular production.'

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Latest circus news: aerial hoop video, and the Creative Director explains Labyrinth

July 20, 2011
Author: Tom

Watch Shaena Brandel, one of the stars of this summer's Labyrinth show at Eden, practise her aerial hoop routine – with no safety ropes or crash mats! The haunting music comes courtesy of NoFit State Circus's own band.

Photo by Steve TannerCreative Director explores Labyrinth

Firenza Guidi, Creative Director of Labyrinth, talks us through the concept and inspiration behind the show, and what it’s like to work at Eden.

‘For a start, for me, every human being is a labyrinth, and we work from the macro picture into the micro, so Eden is also a labyrinth where you want to get lost, as in the subtitle [for the show] “Losing yourself is the key to the game”.

‘Then there’s the idea of each performer being a labyrinth, where we can dig down into the human desire and psyche, past, present and future, and actually use quite a lot that belongs to the real life of the performers, which I always like to do.

‘A parallel inspiration is Jorge Luis Borges [an Argentinian writer] and his Labyrinths short stories. I always say people will not come to an adaptation of Borges’ stories, but it’s a creative impulse, it’s a way of getting a lot of different departments going, from lighting to performers to design to costumes.

‘The final idea is that of the labyrinth as a place that is at once comforting and non-comforting. A place that you want to get lost in and a place where, in the heart of the labyrinth, you might find the minotaur, the monster within.

‘The labyrinth is not only a floor pattern, it’s not only a garden, it’s not only hedges but, for the performers, it’s how they can work with the creative impulse and create a labyrinth on a Chinese pole [a vertical pole] or a tightwire, for example.

‘Working at Eden is like having a massive model or a toy – an endless resource in the sense that it’s changing on a daily basis. Although there is a vision and a structure, there is also flexibility; there are also meteorological conditions, and even the growing of plants that might change on a weekly basis…It’s a constant inspiration.’

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Tactile map of Eden created for people with visual impairments

July 19, 2011
Author: Hannah

Today saw the unveiling of a beautiful wooden scale model of Eden Project that allows people with visual impairments to experience the site’s famous landscape and architecture.

Complete with Biomes and planting schemes, the map is the handiwork of Lauren Milton, who created it on her model-making course at The Arts University College of Bournemouth.

Lauren was looking for a final year project that would allow her to experiment with environmentally friendly materials, rather than the usual chemical-based resin used for models. She decided to make the map, more than one metre long, entirely out of wood offcuts, including beech, mahogany, ash, cedar and oak, whose textured bark forms a chunky surround.

Lauren (below, far right) also opted for Eden because she relished the challenge of creating the site's huge variety of shapes and textures. ‘The Biomes were really difficult,’ she admits. ‘I’ve certainly learnt all about geodesic structures!’

These were created using a digitally automated mill, which gouged out the shapes accurately following the dimensions provided by a computer-based model. Many of the other elements, however, were shaped by hand and assembled onto the base. Finally, the model was covered in beeswax, for a smooth finish.

Tactile maps are widely used as a way-finding mechanism for people with visual impairments, explains the Sensory Trust’s Stuart Spurring (below, left), who came to today’s unveiling.

But this one goes beyond a simple map with raised sections, to offer ‘a whole experience and context of the place’, he says. ‘With its different textures and beautiful appearance it also offers sighted visitors a perspective of Eden that they wouldn’t normally get.’

Thanks to Lauren’s work on the Eden tactile map, she has now been commissioned to create something similar for the National Trust’s Stourhead house and garden, in Wiltshire.

Come and have a good feel of the new Eden model in the Visitor Centre, where it has been installed for easy viewing from wheelchair height.


How to make your own mini circus costumes

July 19, 2011
Author: Tom

Run away with the circus with these funny costumes. Become an amazing acrobat, a super strongman or a comical clown. You could then let your imagination run riot and design your own costumes!

Stuff you need

  • a picture of your face (or someone else’s face)
  • a colour printer to print off the templates (PDF) and the picture of yourself
  • card to mount the templates on
  • glue
  • scissors

How to create your person template and clothes

Step 1.  Click here to download the templates (PDF).

Step 2.  Print them off.

Step 3.  Print off the picture of your face (or someone else’s).

Step 4.  Stick every template onto a piece of card and cut them out.

Step 5.  Stick the picture of your face onto the person template.

Step 6.  Attach your chosen outfit to the person template by folding down the tabs on the clothes.

Tip: You can make your circus character stand up by attaching a pencil to the back with some tape and sticking the pencil in a lump of Blu-tack.

Safe play tip: Take extra care when using scissors!

Blog by Rebecca Mitchell

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Circus, How to, Play
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Circus parade in St Austell town centre

July 18, 2011
Author: Tom

Breath-taking balancing acts, surreal dance routines and a man spinning in a giant wheel thrilled  hundreds of spectators as NoFit State Circus came to St Austell town centre on Saturday (16 July).

The spectacular show, attended by about 500 people in White River Place’s Aylmer Square, was the finale of a colourful parade led by the contemporary circus company who are staging Labyrinth at the Eden Project later this month.

Earlier in the day the performers got people in the town centre to have a go at  juggling, diablo and hula-hooping with free circus skills workshops. They were joined by Indian-style bhangra drumming group the Dhol Foundation who led percussion lessons and provided music for the parade.

The event was part of St Austell Live hosted by the Eden Project and part of Cornwall Council’s Eco-communities Programme of Development.

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