News

Team pulls together in uncertain times

January 29, 2013
Author: admin

Every year in January Eden closes for two-days for internal training and development. It’s an important time where all the different teams get together and spend time with each other, sharing plans, developing ideas and working on new projects. This year was to be no different and the planned closure was put in the diary for 28 and 29 January.

However, as anyone who has read the news about Eden this week will know, 2013 was to take a very different tone when Tim started the first day with the announcement that our team would have to be cut by up to 70 people.

As a result of fewer visitors coming to Cornwall in 2012, due to a combination of the Olympics, poor summer and autumn weather and the lasting effects of the recession, we are faced with reducing our annual costs by £2 million.

Admirably, the team took the news with a galvanising spirit. Despite the torrid weather conditions and the gloomy news that had been delivered, rather than all heading home, everyone decided to roll up their sleeves and set about doing a full spring clean of the site. The Eden team wanted to work together and take the opportunity to make the site look spick and span for the visitors on 30 January.

At the end of the spring clean Gaynor Coley, CEO, Enterprise said: ‘It is this Eden spirit that reminds me how resilient as a team we are at Eden. Despite everything that gets thrown at us, we always find a way to work together to turn things around. The economic climate across the UK does look dire but we’re determined, and extremely confident, that the radical restructure we have planned will make us even more resilient for the future – ensuring Eden is here in 5, 10 and 100 years from now.’

 

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Seven foods to help fight those January blues

January 28, 2013
Author: admin

If you’re finding the long, dark January days a bit of a struggle, why not throw a few superfoods into your diet to get that boost you need? We’ve rounded up seven energy-boosting, detoxifying, tasty foods to feed your body and mind this winter.

1. Green leafy vegetables

Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre, green leafy vegetables are the greatest of all superfoods. You can eat these in abundance. Try growing your own at home, so it couldn’t be fresher. Forget food miles – you can’t help but feel very smug when you can harvest your own salad from your doorstep. Spinach, kale and lettuce will grow easily in pots or raised veg tables, which are handy for growing in small gardens and patios.

2. Orange fruit and vegetables

Orange foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and orange peppers are naturally high in sugars, so these are great if you have a sweet tooth. They’re also rich in vitamins and antioxidants, making them specifically beneficial for eye health and your immune system. Plus, they really brighten up a dish.

3. Sprouted seeds

Sprouted seeds full of nutrients, and if you grow them yourself you can eat them freshly picked. Seeds are incredibly easy to sprout and take only a few days. Read our quick guide on how to sprout seeds.

4. Garlic

This delicious bulb has been celebrated for its reputed health benefits for hundreds of years. A rich source of sulphur, garlic is naturally antibacterial, so many people eat it to ward off colds. Try sticking a whole bulb into our garlic roaster and popping it in the oven. It turns the garlic sweet, sticky and caramelised, which is ideal for making gravy or smushing into a sandwich.

5. Good oils

Our salad dressings are made using Cornish rapeseed oil because it’s low in unsaturated fat, but rich in all those good omega oils – important for keeping your skin supple and your arteries flowing. Choose from beetroot, spicy harissa, or mustard dressing.

6. Nettle tea

A nettle infusion is considered by many to be one of the healthiest teas you can brew. It’s naturally high in zinc, silica, vitamin C and iron, so sipping away on a hot mug of nettle tea is an easy way to get more goodness into your body. Alternate with green tea, or fennel tea for a bit of variation.

7. Red wine and dark chocolate

Surely one of the best breakthroughs of the century was discovering that a little bit of dark chocolate and red wine can actually be beneficial for the body! Among other things, they’re both high in antioxidants, helping to destroy those nasty free radicals. Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol, which studies suggest can help maintain a healthy heart. Cheers!

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The apple man: an interview with Cornish Orchards’ Andy Atkinson

January 25, 2013
Author: Hannah

We talked to Eden Project supplier Andy Atkinson, managing director of Cornish Orchards, to find out how he’s created a thriving – and sustainable – drinks business in just over a decade.

Today, Duloe-based Cornish Orchards is growing a business supplying the likes of Sharp’s Brewery, the Eden Project, and even clients in Australia. They have a 26-strong team and make 30 product lines. So how did Andy Atkinson start out?

Andy Atkinson, Managing Director of Cornish Orchards

From cows to apples
Andy had worked as a dairy farmer for some 35 years before he turned to orchards. When milk prices started to fall in the 90s he began to look for inspiration elsewhere – and got involved in a Cornwall Council project helping farmers revive traditional orchards on their land.

As he took his first few batches of apple juice to local farmers’ markets he could see the potential of freshly pressed apple juice in a county with a thriving summer tourist industry.

Andy jokes that people might think him ‘nuts’ for trying to start a business around apple juice, when supermarkets are already selling cartons of apple juice for 76p a litre. But he says the difference is in the taste. Just one sip and you can tell this stuff is a million miles away from that mass-produced caramelised ‘juice’.

Bottles of Cornish Orchards cider

Navigating the sustainability labyrinth
Andy has a pragmatic yet determined approach to cutting the company’s environmental impact. He’s spent hours scanning the lines of his accounts and looking into simple ways to improve processes which will also save money.

‘Sometimes these lie in really small technical details,’ he says – such as investing in a very flat, shiny floor in their warehouse. ‘A simple change like this means that the forklift truck tyres don’t wear down and constantly need replacing,’ he explains.

One thing he’s clearly proud of is that the only waste produced at the site is apple pomace – which is fed to local cows and pigs – and water, which passes through the wetlands filtering system they’ve established in the field.

It isn’t always easy making the right decisions though, he admits. ‘For example, we’re now exporting our drinks out to Europe and Australia. Do we go for the one-way kegs which can be recycled out in France? Or is it less wasteful to use steel kegs with a 30-year life span? But they have a heavy environmental footprint and need to be sent back…’

Turning carbon emissions into a positive
Andy laughs that he’s ‘always thought it bizarre that we have to buy carbon dioxide in bottles to add the fizz to our juice, while our fermentation process is slowly releasing CO2 all the time. There must be a better way!’ He knows of one big drinks company experimenting with this – and is really keen to do the same when this technology comes to market.

Apples in water

Learning from the past
Visit the Cornish Orchards site – a small outfit based in a handful of converted barns and purpose-built warehouses – and you’ll be amazed by a small, snaking river of red apples.

This is the ingenious water-based apple-handling system that Andy introduced as a way of moving fruit around the farm, meaning they rely less on forklift trucks. It’s modelled on an age-old set-up in Normandy, which he learnt about on a trip there to research traditional cider making methods.

The way it works is that water is pumped into the apple handling bay using a low-energy pump, which then carries the apples along the small river all the way to the press.

Andy says: ‘We’ve found it extremely simple to manage, that it provides a better environment for staff to work in, means less wear and tear on the ground from truck tyres, and has reduced our diesel consumption.’

Getting the community involved
A combination of a fast-growing business and slow-growing raw products (orchards can take up to 10 years to produce fruit) means that Andy has taken an unusual approach to apple sourcing from the outset; community growing.

The first ever batch of Cornish Orchards juice, made in 1999, contained juice from apples grown in orchards across Cornwall. Last year the company launched a community growing scheme inviting individuals to sell unwanted apples from the trees in their gardens. ‘We’ve had trailer loads, carfuls and even people bringing them in in buckets!’ he says.

Cornish Orchards has also worked with farmers in the counties to encourage them to introduce orchards onto their land, to help supply the business. It’s not only good for biodiversity, but is helping bring back a traditional South West industry.

So when you’re enjoying a mouthful of Cornish Orchards’ crisp apple juice or spicy mulled cider, savour the thought of apple trees blossoming across the county and an ancient Cornish landscape coming back to life.

Watch a video about Cornish Orchards.

You can buy Cornish Orchards’ lovely juices and ciders on the Eden Project webshop.

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The search for the perfect coffee

January 23, 2013
Author: admin

Visitors tell us one of the most memorable parts of visiting Eden is seeing the coffee plantation in our rainforest Biome. That’s why we’re keen to source the best possible coffee to sell in our shops.

You can buy fairly traded coffee in a lot of places, so we wanted this to be the perfect balance between being fairly traded, ethical, sustainable, and utterly delicious. After all, it could be the coffee you rely on to chase away those morning blues.

Our fussy buyers sampled hundreds of cups before they could confidently put the first bag of coffee on the shelves with our name on it.

And finally they tasted this coffee:

Smooth, delicious, balanced, irresistible.

It’s an undercover coffee

Our coffee is ‘shade-grown’, under the rainforest canopy — just like it is here at Eden. This has loads of environmental benefits because it attracts and protects a diverse range of plants, insects and birds, meaning the crop is naturally fertilised and there’s less need for pesticides. It also conserves water, as the moisture doesn’t dry out as quickly as when coffee is grown under the scorching sun.

Experienced growers

The family behind the coffee have been producing speciality beans like these on their land since 1908. So if there’s one thing Dr Urrutia and his family understands, it’s the coffee bean.

Ludicruously ethical

Dr Urrutia and his family also share our beliefs in working closely with the community. To help people in rural areas, they set up a not-for-profit organisation called Monte Sion Nuevo Amanecer (which translates from Spanish as The Mountain of New Dawn) to serve the community of 400 people.

Aside from giving 10% of profit to their community fund, they also dedicate plenty of time to looking after local people. For example, they also:

  • Distribute healthy food, plus vitamin and protein supplements, out to those who need it most
  • Offer workers free medical assistance
  • Build durable houses for workers, which feature running water, solar panels for electricity and a stove for cooking food
  • Provide clothing, footwear and essentials for cold weather
  • Co-ordinate education programmes to be available for everyone, including literacy programmes and spiritual lectures

And what about the taste?

1. El Salvador coffee £3.50

This smooth, light- to medium-bodied coffee is perfect for use in a cafetière, filter machine or jug. El Salvador is known for its small specialist coffee farms, which produce balanced coffee with real depth.

 

2. Espresso coffee £3.50

This coffee from Central America and Indonesia has a good acidity which develops into a full bold flavour. Its spicy and syrupy notes and pleasant finish make this the perfect bean for a strong, short shot.

 

3. Guatemalan coffee £3.50

Shade-grown on the slopes between two volcanoes, this coffee is sought after by coffee connoisseurs. The volcanic earth is full of minerals, which give the coffee an unusual aroma. The farmers leave these coffee beans to slowly ripen late into the year, which produces an intensely rich flavour.

4. Honduras la tigra coffee £3.50

Home to monkeys, parrots and exotic butterflies, Honduras also produces some of the world’s best coffee. Ours is sourced from the national park — a place rich in local flora and fauna. It has a lovely chocolatey flavour, is quite fruity and has a really fresh after taste.

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Outdoor learning teacher training sows seeds in schools across the country

January 22, 2013
Author: Hannah

Teachers always tell us that they leave our teacher training days fired up with all sorts of outdoor learning ideas to take home and try with their own classes across the country. So we decided it was time to catch up with them and find out just what exciting things they’ve been up to since their day with the Eden Education team…

Colourful creations

The colour palette exercise – which invites kids to find as many different coloured natural items outside as they can and pop them on a sticky piece of card – is a real favourite with teachers and practitioners.

Fabiana Mello, who came on a training session at London’s Southbank Centre to get ideas for her an early years club in Southwark, created her own interpretation of the activity. Children in her group, along with their mums parents and carers, collected coloured leaves to decorate a huge cardboard tree that’s now hanging on the community centre wall.

Colour palette exercises

Rachel De Thample added an extra twist in her weekly outdoor learning sessions for young children, which takes place in a London park.

Having brought back lots of interesting ‘treasures’ from around the park’s ‘edible garden’, the children worked with their parents to come up with a poetic line relating to one of the colours they’d found. These were then strung together to make a group poem.

The Autumn Rainbow in Westow Park

Yellow is mellow like a banana
Yummy banana yellow
Rushy yellow yellow leaf left out in the winter
Orange sand fire
Looks like fire think of paint
Colour of sunshine
Red like berries and James the Red Engine and this label and tomatoes
Red as a Robin’s chest
Nature’s blood: green
Green as a freshly sprouted leaf
Green glossy slimy frog
Grey like squirrel squiggling

Outdoor maths

Reception teacher Kate Hawker, from London’s Oasis Academy Johanna, tells us that she now teaches ones maths lesson entirely outside each week, since taking part in our Creative Outdoor Learning session. She’s also added our ‘washing line of numbers’ to the space.

This is a simple activity that’s great for maths; all you do is invite children to draw something they’ve seen in the garden on a luggage tag, hang it on a washing line, then keep a tally of how many they can see.

Washing line maths exercise

Speaking of maths, nursery teacher Jill Forster, who came along to get ideas for Lambeth’s’ Crown Lane Primary School, did some ‘sums’ for us and told us that ‘Powerful numbers spring to mind: just two trainers from the Eden Project sow seeds of ideas far and wide, so that in just one class, in just one school, 52 children reap the rewards. I’m not a maths teacher, but this sounds like good economic sense to me!’

Unusual play spaces

Cornwall’s Trythall Community Primary School, which has sent all its teachers and teaching assistants on an Eden training day to bring back inspiration for their recently transformed outdoor space, was awarded ‘outstanding’ for learning outside the classroom by Ofsted.

Created with the help of pupils and the community, their school grounds include a pond which headteacher Matt Strevens describes as ‘designed to get the children in, not keep them out’ and has proved a perfect space for school performances.

Outdoor learning at Trythall School

Wild play

Some schools have really taken on board Eden’s ‘wild play’ philosophy.

Outdoor learning teacher Helen Blackburn tells us that she took reception children at St Breock School to a local beach for a ‘water challenge’ – an activity that gets kids learners working together to improvise a type of assault course for water to travel around.

Martin Besford got his ‘Little Explorers outdoor pre-school’ doing the same at the Highway Farm Activity Centre.

And Sara Oliver, from Cornwall’s Marazion School, says that her Foundation Stage children now go to ‘Beach School’ every week, where they held a teddy bears’ picnic and made ‘sandy snowman’.

Wild play and water play

If you’d like to get inspiration and practical ideas for your own class or learning group, why not come along to one of our training days?

As well as offering training days around the country, we can come to your school to help develop your school grounds, guide you through introducing outdoor learning, or creating a school garden. Visit our website for more information.

With thanks to Cassie Liversidge for her lovely photos.

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Five unusual conifers for your garden

January 21, 2013
Author: Hannah


Conifers aren’t all about leylandii, says Eden gardener Jamie McCormack. Read his ideas for five unusual conifers to plant in your garden – then join him to learn more about this ancient species on our one-day conifer course in March 2013.

So what is a conifer?
Ask yourself that question and ‘leylandia’ will probably pop up in your head. But there are actually around 550 species of conifer, which all have very different leaves and shapes – ranging from the ginkgo tree’s heart-shaped leaves to the Scots pine’s needles.

Conifer really means ‘cone-bearer’; all conifers have cones. Did you know that cones are essentially ‘naked seeds’? They’re seeds which aren’t contained within an ovary (ie not inside a fruit, such as an apple).

Eden gardener Jamie McCormack with a monkey puzzle tree

Where do they grow?
Conifers grow on every continent across the globe except for Antarctica – so you can even find them up in the Arctic Circle. Conifers such as pines, spruces and firs have adapted to grow in the far north, with leaves in the form of hard, little needles that can endure cold, dry conditions.

Amazing conifer facts

  • Some conifer species are older than dinosaurs! They were some of the first land plants to appear, after mosses and ferns, but long before grasses and flowers (these didn’t evolve until insects and pollinators appeared). Some date back to the Mesozoic era, 300 million years ago.
  • The oldest living conifer tree is 4,800 years old. It’s a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longavea) in the Arizona desert.
  • The tallest living conifer tree is 380ft high; a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in California.
  • The largest living conifer tree weighs 1,900 tonnes. It’s a giant redwood (Sequiodendron giganteum), also in California.

Five conifers for your garden

 

Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’)

A distinct and beautiful weeping, blue cedar that will really turn heads. It can be left to sprawl as ground cover, used to gracefully fall down a slope or wall, or even be trained upright to form a spooky, blue, weeping beauty. Try it in your small garden.

 

Podocarpus salignusWillow-leaf podocarp (Podocarpus salignus)

This beautiful, soft-needled tree will make a striking, evergreen feature in a medium or large garden. A fast grower in the South West, it is tolerant of most conditions apart from cold winter winds, as it hails from the threatened temperate rainforests of Chile.

 

Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba ‘Saratoga’)

Ginkgo biloba ‘Saratoga’

With female ginkgos’ fruit having such an unpleasant smell (described as a mix of rancid butter and vomit) you’ll be pleased to hear that this cultivar is a non-fruiting male. In autumn the Saratoga has a buttery colour and will make a good addition to your small or medium-sized garden.

Now a much-loved – and slightly unusual sight – in streets, parks and gardens, the maidenhair tree once formed whole forests across Europe and North America around. That was before the dinosaurs, some 200 million years ago!

 

Metasequioa glyptostroboides, Dawn redwoodDawn redwood (Metasequioa glyptostroboides)

The ancient Dawn redwood is one of the finest of all living things. Known only as a fossil until its discovery in China in the 1940s, it has been delighting gardeners ever since. Tolerant of wet, boggy conditions, this large tree has a fine pyramidal form, good autumn colour and attractive bark.

 

Pinus sylvestris ‘Watereri’, Scots pineScots pine (Pinus sylvestris ‘Watereri’)

Plant this fine, slower growing form of our beloved Scots pine to remind you of the bonnie Highlands. The Watereri boasts the special characteristics of its parent species, with warming red bark, attractive needles and a solid form. It will form a small tree eventually, but is in no rush.

 

Conifer course at Eden Project

Eden gardener Jamie McCormack amongst foliage at the Eden Project

Join Jamie on a one-day conifer course at the Eden Project on 26 March 2013. The day offers a great introduction to this fascinating, varied and primitive group of trees.

You’ll learn about their form, growth and care, their place in the garden and wider landscape, as well as their commercial importance for timber, resin and paper.

A guided walk through Eden’s gardens and Biomes will also give you the opportunity to identify many species, both native and exotic.

Book a place on the course.

With thanks to the following for their lovely photos: Liné1, Stephen Hayden Photography, Mark Bolin, Matt N Charlotte, Nova.

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Wondering what to get for Valentine’s Day?

January 18, 2013
Author: admin

Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year where you can go all out on spoiling your loved one. After all, there’s nothing wrong with making your partner feel like one in a million.

Our buyers have given you a helping hand by picking out their top five favourite gift ideas for Valentine’s Day that are sure to leave you with masses of Brownie points.


The weekend hamper, £42.50

Surprise your Valentine with this picnic hamper jam-packed with foodie treats. It contains speciality coffee, Cornish chilli sauce, handmade dark chilli chocolate, ale and walnut chutney, Cornish Pilsner (made with Eden Project thyme!), a bag of lemon olives, a bone china mug aaaand a little book of balls! A perfect Valentine’s gift for sports fans, who like nothing more than settling down to a relaxing weekend of sport on the telly.


Wine and chocolate gift bag, £18.50

Chocolates and wine are a sure-fire way to melt anyone’s heart. This gift set contains handmade Cornish chocolate buttons paired with a bottle of organic white wine. If this match made in heaven doesn’t deserve canoodles, nothing does.


Gardening gift bag, £22.50

Here’s a lovely gift for a green-fingered Valentine. Our buyers have teamed a love bomb full of forget-me-not seeds with floral gardening gloves, milk chocolate, a luxurious gardeners’ hand scrub and a geranium hand cream that smells divine. It comes all wrapped up in a jute bag, tied with a red ribbon.


Chilli gift bag, £14.50

Spice things up with this gift bag of hot stuff. Our jute bag contains chocolate with a wicked bite, a smooth chilli drinking chocolate that’ll warm anyone’s heart and a cheeky bottle of Cornish chilli sauce.


Time out gift bag, £24.50

If you’re looking for great ideas for Valentine’s Day evening, we’ve got it all wrapped up. A beautiful bird gift bag comes with a bottle of organic rosé, strawberry cheesecake popcorn, rosehip moisturiser and a rose, freesia and geranium bath soak complete with rose petals. Simply run your partner an aromatic bath, pour a crisp glass of wine and they’ll be purring all evening.

Our official popcorn tester has also given his seal of approval.

 

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Experiential learning for staff engagement

January 14, 2013
Author: Hannah


Sue Hill, Learning Director on Eden Project’s business leadership programme, explains how creating experiential learning opportunities for staff is a vital part of employee engagement. Read her tips on how to make this happen where you work.

What is experiential learning and why bother?

At Eden we like to describe it as learning about how to do things, not just about things.

Experiential learning often involves multisensory activities which take the participant out of their normal frame of context to engage them emotionally and personally. They are more likely to understand and remember what they’ve learnt, as well as contribute to others’ learning.

When we first set up the Eden Project as a public visitor attraction it was essentially an experiment in how people learn.

We found that, no matter how beautifully we created our exhibits and made our points about social and environmental issues, the bit that stood out for the public was when they’d contributed to the story in some way, for example by planting a bulb or contributing a recipe to a book.

Business delegate making a hand print on a globe

What’s it got to do with business?

It’s a great way to engage employees, because the activities involve hearts, hands and minds, giving them a memorable and stimulating experience that will enrich and change the way they approach their daily work.

Organisations use experiential learning for:

  • Helping employees ‘get’ sustainability by inviting them to reconnect with the issues on a visceral level.
  • Engaging staff in the purpose of the organisation.
  • Generating innovative ideas for a sustainability strategy, for example.
  • Motivating individuals in their roles, by demonstrating that their opinions matter and their sphere of influence is greater than they may have imagined.
  • Reconnecting staff with each other, through group work and breaking down hierarchies.

Experiential learning can include:

  • Group exercises – often visual or physical activities
  • Away days where staff can ‘take off their professional hats’
  • Unusual spaces that stimulate fresh thinking
  • Pair work, either within the company or beyond, to help staff see with fresh eyes
Business delegates outside at the Eden Project, Cornwall

 

How to introduce experiential learning into your organisation

Some of these activities and ideas will be useful as a way of incorporating experiential learning techniques into your business as a one-off, for example through an away day. You may find they also help you introduce more of a culture of learning into your organisation, where staff are engaged in the business purpose as well as able to contribute new ideas.

1. Surprise people
Whatever the occasion, make sure people are jolted out of thinking ‘oh, it’s just another day with a flipchart’.

This could involve putting in a little bit of effort to dress the space. The Eden team is a great fan of creating interesting places to hold conversations, whether it’s for our staff away day or for an external community planning event – where bunting, photos, maps, props (and of course tea and cake) all invite people to respond in a new way to this unusual environment. Music works too.

If you don’t have the luxury of transforming the room, why not invite people to bring in an object as a provocation? In one of our facilitated sessions for local businesses a lady brought in pots of jam to represent her conserve making company and another guy came along with a massive chainsaw because he was in the arboriculture business. Objects can make a big impact – and of course we didn’t forget the jam because we all got to taste it!

Eden staff members with a cocoa pod, inside the Rainforest Biome, Eden Project, Cornwall

2. Take off your professional hats
It’s important that people are present as human beings, not ‘on behalf of the company’, so that they’re ready to engage all their senses and emotions.

Physical games are a good way of drawing people out of themselves, because it changes the energy in the room. Our ‘sphere of influence’ ice breaker – designed for departmental sessions – gets the group using strands of wool to make a physical connection to people they already work with, and also to people they’d like to work with.

This simple prop helps people visualise their own sphere of influence, recognising its extent and also understanding that it is possible to reach out and work with others to make a difference. They’re encouraged to take their intentions forward after the session in the form of a pledge.

We use ‘play’ activities like this one, or group work such as storytelling and fire making, to get people working together quickly. Helping individuals laugh also starts to open them up to new experiences.

Participants taking part in a sphere of influence activity with pieces of wool at the Eden Project, Cornwall

3. Enable collective learning
Learning with others, in a group and out loud, can be much more effective than ‘private study’. That’s why we love using our ‘coffee exercise’ as an introduction to sustainability.

It basically gets people working in small groups to map the social, economic and environmental impacts of the cup of coffee that they’ve just enjoyed during the break. The teams use big felt tip pens to draw everything that has gone into it – the coffee beans, the sugar, the hot water, the milk, the cup… – where these have come from, and how they were produced.

Whether people have already focussed on these issues before or are completely new to them, we’ve seen mixed groups genuinely learning from each other, unpacking all sorts of stories behind the coffee, such as waste, carbon, peak oil etc. The side competition for the funniest drawing of a cow goes down well too!

Boots UK, which took part in one of our leadership programmes, has found this exercise really useful as a starting point for looking at the footprint of some of their products.

Participants drawing the journey of a cup of coffee on a table

4. Don’t just tell; invite exploration
Whether you’re using a professional facilitator for your session or are running it yourself, make sure that you’re creating a learning experience for people which allows them to find things out for themselves, rather than simply telling them something. It’s this process of discovery and comprehension which helps people remember and access their learning afterwards.

Even if the main aim of the activity is to help people engage more fully with the business purpose, simply telling people what that is will not be as effective as allowing them to explore it and contribute.

For example, while Eden’s leadership programmes aim to send business participants away with fresh ideas on how to instigate change and tackle sustainability back in their place of work, we avoid trying to tell people the answers. Instead, we focus on enabling participants to become problem solvers themselves, by working alongside other business participants in collaborative exercises.

Sometimes exercises you set up might not appear to have a visible outcome, but remember that you can’t plan ‘teachable moments’; you need to accept some messiness in the process!

Staff delegates drawing on a large piece of paper

5. Consolidate the experience
There is nothing worse than sending an employee on a course to tick a box – for example to become a ‘sustainability champion’ – if you aren’t going to help them consolidate the experience. Coming back to an office where senior managers are not engaged in the process too can be a lonely, uphill struggle.

Why not think about schemes which buddy employees up with colleagues or external contacts? Other ways to help people consolidate their learning include giving them a platform to share it, such as a staff blog, or having open lines of communication for staff to put forward their views throughout the year.

Table with pledges written on

On our Green Foundation programme we’ve helped participants continue their journey by pairing them up on a business exchange. Armed with their learning from the programme, these ‘critical friends’ visit each other’s place of work for a day and help them see their own practice through a new pair of eyes. We encourage them to get excited about exploring sustainability, like a CSI investigator!

Find out more about taking part in Eden’s business leadership programme – either at the Eden Project or in your own place of work – on our Green Foundation website. We can arrange bespoke business experiential learning sessions for individuals, teams and departments.

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Organise a seed exchange with friends and neighbours

January 9, 2013
Author: Hannah

Swapping seeds with friends and other gardeners in your neighbourhood is a great way to increase the variety of what you grow, as well as a good opportunity to exchange gardening tips.

January is the best time of year to arrange a seed exchange, when you’re gearing up to grow plants for the year ahead. Cold winter days are also when people are in need of a nice get-together.

Hand holding a pod of beans over a basket

Why organise a seed exchange?

  1. Save money. When you buy a packet of seeds there are always more than you need, but if you exchange these with other people, for different seeds, you get twice the range of seeds from your original investment.
  2. Grow new plants. You’ll pick up ideas to grow new plants and vegetables which you might not have thought of before.
  3. Get growing tips. It’s not just about exchanging seeds but about meeting other growers in the community and swapping ideas and advice on how to look after those plants, or even how to cook them.
  4. Fundraise for a project. You could organise the seed exchange so that each person makes a small donation for the seeds that they take.

Tips on organising the seed exchange

  1. Have gardening advice to hand. It’s useful to have someone there who knows a bit about growing. Or, you can simply gather as many gardening books as you can and spread them out on a table. That way, you can all gather round with a cuppa and look through the books yourselves
  2. Label your seeds. If you want the event to be fairly informal, simply place all seeds on a table with labels available to write on. Luggage tags are fun and cheap for this. At this sort of seed exchange people don’t need to bring seeds to be allowed to take some away. Or you may choose to give people a token in exchange for each different type of seeds they bring along. These are then their ‘currency’ for the seed exchange, ensuring a fair swap for all.
  3. Don’t forget the refreshments. Other essentials are a supply of tea and coffee. Costs for these are easily recovered, even when only charging 25p per cup. Biscuits and cakes are great too and encourage people to stay and chat for longer – and a great way to swap recipes too.
  4. Create publicity. Don’t be shy in telling people about your event. Posters in the local shops and schools reach a lot of people, and remember those other groups too such as WI, scouts and Brownies. Your local press and radio will have free community event slots, and you can always write your own press release to invite, including a happy photo. The local press likes a good photo opportunity, so will usually turn up.
  5. Donate leftover seeds. There are often plenty of seeds left over at the end of the exchange. Local schools or youth groups are only too pleased to be offered these as donations.

Learn how to harvest your own seeds with these video tips from the team.

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Community, Gardening

Have you tried this exotic beer before?

January 7, 2013
Author: admin

At Eden we’re fascinated by the many varieties of bananas, the inner workings of a mango, and we have more coconut palms than you can shake your maracas at. So it makes perfect sense for us to source beer made from these delicious exotic fruits.

They’re surprisingly light and refreshing. Imagine a blonde beer with a subtle exotic twang to enjoy with spicy food, fish, – or while imagining you’re lying on a hammock in sunny Africa.

Behold

All of these beers are organic and gluten free. Not only are they Fairtrade, but it’s the carefully sourced ingredients that sets these beers aside. Who would have thought that drinking a bottle of beer would do so much good for the world?

They’re made by a company called Mongozo, which means ‘to your health!’ in the language of the Chokwe people of Africa.

Mango beer

Slowly fermented out of organic quinoa and fresh mangoes, this beer tastes sweet, honeyed and, well… like fresh mangoes. It’s a winner served at a party – all beer lovers will want to try this.

Coconut beer

Enjoy this coconut beer with your favourite Caribbean dish or a nice hot curry. Use this beer in cooking to make a coconut tempura batter for prawns or white fish and serve with a hot, spicy dipping sauce – delicious!

Banana beer

Mongozo Banana Beer has the sweet flavour and yellow colour of ripe bananas and is best served chilled in a straight glass with the sediment.Also makes a great dessert beer as an alternative to wine.

Banana Beer is the traditional beer of the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania; over there it’s known as ‘mbege’.

This set of three costs £7.50 and is available on our webshop here. We can send them to someone else for you as a lovely exotic gift.

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