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Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 17:30

The Eden Project plans to restore disused farm buildings on the edge of its site in order to create a centre for educational programmes to be known as the Emergence Academy.

Eden’s ambition centres on the 17th Century Restineas Farmhouse and a cluster of buildings surrounding it and would also see a new plant nursery established nearby.

Managers have discussed the plans with the Eden Neighbours’ Forum and nearby town and parish councils and a formal application is due to be made to Cornwall Council.

Restineas Farm is on the north west of the Eden Project site and comprises the disused farmhouse, a former bakehouse and four barns.

The plan is to restore the buildings to their former glory, providing a sustainable future which reflects the site’s previous use as a working farm. 

Restineas would become a gathering place for training and research in the areas of regenerative agriculture and horticulture, energy, water and community participation. 

Surrounded by productive orchards and gardens as well as ancient woodland, the buildings would be refurbished to provide training and seminar rooms, a cookery facility and an artisan workshop space.

The investment is designed to support Eden’s ambition to grow its formal and informal educational programmes on the same site as its public education facility.

Demand for the activities and the provision of more educational opportunities is clear as numbers for Eden-based student programmes, residential courses and leisure learning have all increased steadily in the last five years.

Widening participation for learners in Cornwall and further afield and developing skills, knowledge and ultimately jobs in regenerative fields will bring benefits to the county.

David Harland, Interim Chief Executive of the Eden Project, said: “The Restineas Farm project is a central part of Eden’s 20-year anniversary plans.

“The ambition of Eden is to continue to provide impact and support to the regenerative economy of Cornwall and the South West.

“The new educational facility, named the Emergence Academy, the Home of Interconnected Thinking, will provide leadership and training to drive green jobs – energy, regenerative agriculture and the circular economy."

The project builds on existing investment in the £17million Eden Geothermal Energy Project and the ongoing growth of Eden Project Learning, a joint venture between Eden and Cornwall College first started in 2014.

Higher education students studying degrees at Eden are due to increase from 130 in 2021 to 180 next year in partnership with Cornwall College, as well as Plymouth and Falmouth Universities.  

The location of the buildings provides an opportunity to create  educational facilities for training and research in the areas of regenerative agriculture and horticulture and energy, benefiting through  close proximity to the Eden visitor site and from its association with innovation and sustainability.

Eden has already brought back to life one of the old milking barns, which is now used as a training base, and stabilised the other farm buildings.

It is planned that accompanying the project will be the creation of new plant nursery, including state-of-the art teaching and research space, a home for the National Wildflower Centre and seed bank and outdoor food-growing systems.