Cornwall’s coast is the envy of the rest of the UK with golden sand beaches, surfing hotspots and its own particular brand of laid-back charm. This leading holiday destination is also home to the futuristic “biomes” (ginormous greenhouses) of the Eden Project, where conservation and sustainability are at the heart of this green attraction.
Naturally, we couldn’t miss a visit to this unique sanctuary for thousands of plants while we were in Cornwall. My husband and I wanted to simply run away from London’s manic pace and concrete density, and spending time at the Eden Project was one of the best choices we made.
This tropical garden is nestled in a huge crater, the size of 30 football fields. We get a glorious day in the sun, surrounded by lush greenery, and it’s a pleasure to simply walk around and explore at our own pace. The biomes are awe-inspiring in terms of architecture and the flora from around the world they’re home to.
The Rainforest Biome
The Rainforest Biome is the world’s largest greenhouse. Here, you can explore four of the world’s rainforest environments: Tropical Islands, Southeast Asia, West Africa and Tropical South America. Kids and adults alike will love this space – it even has its own canopy walkway where you can take a walk among the treetops on the Rope Bridge and there’s also the Cloud Bridge. And you’re going to find a waterfall here!
It’s humid in the biome but there are thoughtfully placed water fountains here. In fact, a lot of thought has gone into the planning of the Eden Project – whether it’s an African totem sculpture or the oil palm exhibit, there’s so much here that brings you closer to our relationship with plants.
What I particularly liked was that the project highlights the current urgent call for sustainable practices, without being preachy in the least. We tend to take a lot of what nature has to offer for granted, but this is a gentle reminder of how our lives are enriched with the natural diversity – and thus something so precious must be held on to with love and care.
The Mediterranean Biome
Think of the aromas and the sight of citrus, olives, vines and herbs – the second biome transports you effortlessly to the Mediterranean. There are aloes from Southern Africa, poppies from California and much more in the colorful display here.
Little notes in the biomes, among the displays and sculptures, tell you how the plants are used as medicine, food and biofuel.
The Green Ethos
The Eden Project is an educational charity and works on projects that bring communities together, conserve local wildlife and educate future generations. The revenue raised from ticket sales goes towards these projects.
Reducing energy use and carbon emissions is a strong part of their ethos. With 1,000,000 visitors each year, and around two million plants to care for, they also carefully monitor water usage by water harvesting while sourcing food locally. These are just a few of their green policies – in short, it’s a great example of how popular attractions around the world can minimise their carbon footprint.
The Eden Project is a lovely, family-friendly day out, and it’s firmly our belief at Ecophiles that it’s never too soon for kids to learn more about what sustains us. Meander through the walkways of the huge green space, take in a summer concert or a workshop or try the zipline for a rush! There’s much to do at this eco-attraction for a perfect, relaxed day.
Getting to the Eden Project
By car: Just outside St Austell on the south coast of mid Cornwall, Eden is well signposted from the A30 from Exeter and the A391/390 from Plymouth. Free parking and electric charging points available onsite. Postcode for satnavs: PL24 2SG
Car, bike and public transport: Take the eco-friendly option and you will get discounted entry to the Eden Project. By bus, Eden is a half-hour bus ride from St Austell railway station. Located a few miles from St Austell railway station, on the main line from London Paddington, the attraction is served by buses to Eden. You could also take the train to Luxulyan, Bugle or Par, for a more scenic journey or continue on foot or bike.
Find out more on the Eden Project website.