Good news – we're to host a new green building centre, where specialists, manufacturers, academics and the public come together to improve sustainable construction within Cornwall and beyond.
The centre, known as The Green Build Cornwall Foundation, is to be run by Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust (CSBT) and will be housed within a cutting-edge green building itself (see below for a photo of Eden's sustainable Core building).
Its design and exact location within Eden is yet to be decided, but the space has a clear aim: to facilitate collaboration and catalyse exciting innovations within the green building industry in the county.
Paul Bright, CEO of CSBT, explains that green building suppliers will be able to bring in innovations, products and experiments to be trialed and monitored and shared with the public. He describes it as an ‘open book, open door set up’.
He says: ‘It’s going to be an experimental test-bed of everything that’s best in Cornwall. Bring your talents, bring your materials and bring your expertise… There’s a business ethic behind this… We want people to understand that the sum of the parts is greater than the parts.’
The centre will also establish academic partnerships, with a view to it being used for training, awareness raising and the sharing of best practice.
Gaynor Coley, Eden’s Managing Director, said at the launch: ‘The great thing about Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust is that they want everyday housing in Cornwall to be more sustainable, to be more energy-efficient and actually to be a more pleasant place to live. And that’s absolutely spot on in terms of Eden’s mission.’
Gardeners from the Eden Project will be showing people how to make the most of their gardens, whatever shape or size, in a series of one-hour courses in Truro, Cornwall, from January through to March.
There will be seven Gardening in the City sessions in all, covering a range of essential gardening skills, such as the golden rules of composting, growing plants from cuttings and how to grow the ingredients for a curry on a windowsill.
Don Murray, Chair of Horticulture at the Eden Project, says: ‘We’re lucky enough to have a vast amount of space to work with at the Eden Project, but you don’t need a lot of room to make an urban garden that works for you.
‘The courses that we're offering at Truro Community Library are fun and will help to give people practical skills along with handy tips and advice on sustainable gardening.’
The library's Crea Brooks adds: 'As part of the continued development of Truro Community Library, we're working towards the completion of a Community Garden, which has been built upon the ideas of the public and will be maintained by volunteers.
'Working with Eden on these courses gives local people the opportunity to learn how to develop their own garden, even within the confined space that a city garden often provides, and will also help generate the enthusiasm and skills needed to maintain the Library Garden.'
The first course starts on 13 January 2012. Sessions cost just £8.50, and you can get more information and book a place on our website.
Why can’t some people stand Brussels sprouts, yet others seem to quite enjoy them? That’s the question that young scientists at the Eden Project are to investigate in schools workshops, by testing their DNA for a special gene.
The A-level students will be conducting experiments as part of a national programme by the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) and supported by the Wellcome Trust, which aims to give young people hands-on experience with DNA.
They’ll be exploring the fact that sprouts contain a chemical which tastes bitter to people who have a variation of a certain gene. Those with a mutation on that gene don’t taste the bitterness. Around half of the world’s population have the mutation, which scientists consider beneficial, since people with it are more likely to enjoy eating sprouts, which are high in vitamin C and iron.
Students in school workshops at Eden will extract their own DNA with a cheek swab and amplify it using Polymerase Chain Reaction (a process that makes many copies of a small piece of DNA giving enough to test for the gene). They will see how evolution works at first hand, with practical experience of DNA techniques used in hospitals, forensic services and research laboratories.
These Hands-on DNA workshops are being run by 15 science and discovery centres and museums across the UK, each acting as a specialist hub for schools in their region.
John Ellison, Head of Education Strategy at Eden Project, said: “We are excited to work with Cornwall Learning, Cornwall College and our national partners to offer this DNA technology resource. It can give South West students hands-on experience of cutting edge bioscience techniques in the inspiring setting of the Eden Project.”
School workshops and teacher training
There are still some spaces left at Eden for A-Level and technician students 16-years-old and over on A Question of Taste workshops running March 5 to 9. Eden is currently fully booked for Hands-on DNA Key Stage 4 workshops in Science Week. Bookings can be made through email@example.com or 01726 811913 for further bookings after March 2012.
Teachers and technicians can also book with Cornwall Learning for a professional development placement day, on 13 January 13, 2012, which covers both workshops (A Question of Taste and Hands on DNA).
We’ve already shown you how to make a star and a Christmas tree decoration out of paper; now for an intricate spiral that looks lovely on the tree, in the window, or hung over the table for a festive occasion. It's a nice easy thing to make with children on Christmas Eve.
For those of you really into origami, you'll spot that this is in fact a kirigami decoration, because it involves cutting the paper. However you choose to call it, have fun experimenting with different colours and sizes.
You will need:
- A square of thin, coloured card
- A pair of scissors
- Double-sided tape, or a stapler
- A hole puncher
- A piece of thread
How to make your decoration
- Fold your square of paper in half to form a triangle.
- Then fold that triangle in half again to form a smaller triangle (figure 1).
- Holding the triangle in one hand, use the scissors to cut a series of incisions into the triangle (through all the layers of folded paper) in parallel with the longest side. With each one, cut as far as you can before you reach the opposite edge of the triangle, but stop just before you get to it, leaving a solid seam all the way along that fold (figure 2). You can vary the space between each parallel cut to get a pretty effect.
- Open up your piece of card into a square and it will look like a spider’s web pattern of cuts (figure 3). Place it so the incisions run like sideways arrows, left to right, and the solid ‘seam’ runs top to bottom.
- Take hold of the two outermost corners, on the left and right, and bring them together to meet. Use double-sided tape to stick them to each other (a stapler works too, but the finished decoration isn’t quite as beautiful).
- Then do the same with the next two corners in, but bring them together to meet on the opposite side of the card (figure 4).
- Continue to do this until all the corners are paired up with each other, on alternate sides of the card, until you reach the core of the card (figure 5).
- To hang your decoration, use a hole puncher to make a hole in the very top piece of solid card and tie some thread through it.
No Christmas day would be complete without crackers – and the shared groan around the table when the terrible jokes are read out.
Apparently crackers haven’t always been about bad puns and one-liners. The first Christmas crackers, in the mid-1800s, included a hand-written love motto. Later on they included verse by famous poets such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, as well as humorous rhymes and couplets from the top writers of the day.
But in true homage to the one-liners and puns, here are the team’s favourite Christmas jokes. We’ve even managed to find some garden-related ones for you. Have a read and let us know your favourite Christmas jokes!
- Why does Santa have three gardens?
So he can 'ho ho ho'
- What did Father Christmas say to his wife when he looked out of the window?
Looks like reindeer
- What did Adam say on the day before Christmas?
It's Christmas, Eve
- What happens if you eat too many Christmas decorations?
You get tinsel-itis.
- What do English teachers call Santa's little helpers?
- Why is a foot a good Christmas present?
It makes a great stocking filler
- How does King Wenceslas like his pizza?
Deep and crisp and even
- How does an Eskimo fix his house?
Igloos it together
- What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
- What kind of music do elves like best?
It’s easy to underestimate the humble bamboo as just panda food. But in fact many people rely on it around the world. It's such a versatile material, providing scaffolding, clothing, tools, paper, chopsticks, bikes, toys, food and drink, to name just a few.
Bamboo is actually a type of grass – one of the fastest growing on the planet. It can easily grow four feet in a single day without the need for pesticides, irrigation or fertiliser; a farmer's delight. It also acts as a wonderful air purifier by emitting up to three times more oxygen than a tree of the same size.
At Eden, we want to showcase the important link between people and nature, so we don’t just grow bamboo, we’ve even built a house out of it in our rainforest Biome. Check out this video of Martin explaining how Eden have harnessed the power of Bamboo. There are plenty of bamboo products for sale in our webshop, too, so you can incorporate it into your life as well.
Here are our top five bamboo products:
Despite being incredibly robust, bamboo produces luxuriously soft fabric, which is exactly what we want in a cuddly teddy bear. These bears are stuffed with recycled materials too, so they’re totally eco-friendly. With embroidered eyes and a cloth nose, any child will love this toy.
We have a vast bamboo kitchenware section, featuring chopping boards, spoons, bowls and more. Unlike plastic chopping boards, where knife grooves can harbour bacteria, bamboo's natural antibacterial properties mean it neutralises bacteria left on the wood - just what you want in a chopping board.
Our bamboo toys are coated in brightly coloured non-toxic paint, so they’re both safe and fun for little ones. These durable toys can be happily passed down siblings for years and will always be a favourite in the toy box.
These tall nesting baskets are hand woven in rural villages in Vietnam to supplement farmers’ low income. They’re made out out of bamboo fibres and deceptively strong. They come in a variety of colours to brighten up your home, whilst also brightening up farmers’ lives.
Bamboo baby utensils and bowls are a great eco friendly alternative to plastics. These are durable, lightweight, and robust – a good combination in a baby’s determined hands. They’ll even biodegrade when you don’t need them any more. This solid bowl is made of one hollow bamboo stem.
If there is a sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to plastic or metal, why use anything else?
It's almost Christmas, so in our final competition of the Advent calendar, we're giving away an Eden Project annual pass, allowing one lucky person to free entry to visit us for a whole year.
They'll get to come back and see our plants change throughout the seasons, visit for special events like our February chocolate festival, our summer play sessions and our winter evenings.
To be in with a chance of winning the annual pass, please fill in our online form by 31 December 2011.
Prize draw terms and conditions
- The prize offered is: an annual pass to the Eden Project, allowing one person free entry for one year. The annual pass excludes ticketed events.
- Entry is free. One entry per household. Automated entries will not be accepted.
- The first name drawn at random after the closing date will receive the prize as detailed above.
- The prize is non-refundable, non-transferable and subject to availability. No alternative prize will be offered and there is no cash alternative.
- The draw is not open to employees of The Eden Project, their families, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the prize draw.
- All entries must be received by midnight on 31 December 2011. The winner will be notified by email after the closing date.
- By entering this competition you are giving the Eden Project permission to contact you at a future date. You can subscribe from this service at any time.
- Prize draw open to all UK residents. Entrants must be over 16 years of age.
Christmas time lends the perfect occasion to raise a glass with friends and family. But have you ever wondered what's behind the ancient ritual of clinking glasses, and why drinking traditions differ around the world?
It's said that the tradition started as a gesture to prove that the contents had not been poisoned. If the host is happy for the drink to slosh from one glass into another, then it is deemed safe.
Every country has some sort of drinking tradition – usually dozens, whether it’s toasting health, life, or simply proposing to knock it ‘down the hatch’.
Here are a few drinking traditions from around the world as a handy guide.
Toasts in Scandinavia are famous for being musical, with drinking and songs lasting the whole evening. It's customary for guests to write witty songs about the occasion, adapting a familiar tune with their own lyrics. Thereafter, all guests are encouraged to stand up and sing a celebratory song at some point throughout the event.
In Ukraine they say ‘budmo!’ which translates into ‘we’ll live forever!’ and everyone else gives a throaty ‘hey!’ This ‘hey’ is repeated two or three times before anyone actually drinks.
For special occasions, a bottle of ‘bai jiu’ lovingly known as firewater is placed on the table. This strong spirit has little flavour, but delivers a powerful kick to the throat. Throughout the meal, it's customary to pick up your shot glass of bai jiu, raise your glass to someone else at the table, and say ‘gan bei’ followed by the name of the person you want to drink with. This is a request to ‘drink the glass dry’ together.
As a sign of respect, it's important to drink the whole contents of the glass while looking at the person you are drinking with. If you don’t want to drink, it’s a good idea to turn your glass upside down and explain that 'your doctor will not allow you to drink'.
The Japanese see drinking as a way to unwind from a long day in business. It's frowned upon to pour your own drinks, you must only pour drinks for the people around you. This makes a celebration a more sociable event. Here, you may say 'banzai!' as a toast, which means 'may you live a thousand years'.
Around the world
Cornish: 'Sowena!' (Cheers)
England: 'Cheers!' (Good wishes)
Wales: 'Iechyd da!' (Good health)
Germany: 'Prost!' (May it be good)
Romania: 'Noroc!' (Good luck)
Philippines: 'Mabuhay!' (Long life)
Turkey: 'Şerefe!' (To honour)
Croatia: 'živjeli!' (To life)
Poland: 'Na Zdrowie!' (Bless you)
Try making this lovely warming winter dish, using this recipe from Eden’s chefs. Or if you’re vegetarian, you might like our vegetarian Spanish stew recipe instead.
These amounts make four to six hearty portions.
- 1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 500g diced beef
- 400g diced potato
- 200g diced onions
- 150g diced parsnip
- 400g diced carrots
- 1 litre beef stock
- Salt and pepper to season
- Heat a large sauce pan and add the vegetable oil.
- Add the diced beef and cook until browned on all sides.
- Add the vegetables, the beef stock and salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil and simmer gently for one and a half to two hours.
- Taste and add more seasoning if required.
Try this dish at the Eden Project – find out what you can eat, and where, on our food page.
Here's a great way to spice up frosty winter walks with kids: a game of winter walk bingo. Follow the steps below and your youngsters will love being outdoors trying to spot the wintry plants, animals and other things - we've included a variety so that whether your walk is in a town or the countryside, your children should be able to rack up a score.
How to play winter walk bingo
1. Gather at least two young 'bingoers' to play the game.
2. Print out as many bingo cards as you need. There are two bingo cards on each A4 sheet.
3. Set off on your walk.
4. The first player to spot one of the things on the card will get the points shown for that item. That player then ticks the box for that item. The other players should put a cross in the box for that item to remind them they don't need to look for it again.
5. Tot up the points when you return home.
PS: If you do spot Father Christmas or Jack Frost, let us know!