Images and text are ©Chris Wormald 2016 and not to be used without written permission.
Like many Cornish people, I became curious enough in the Millennium year to drive just past St. Austell to view a project that had attracted the attention of the local press. With a number of others, I took a trip on a land train that drove though a wasteland to view an enormous hole in the ground.
The “Clay Country” is another area of Cornwall, despoiled by generations of industrialists eager to snatch whatever lay below the Cornish fields that they could sell to enrich themselves. Hence a huge area is dotted with the holes and the spoil heaps they have left after they have made their money and moved on to despoil somewhere else.
From the train, we gazed into the deep hole and saw huge machines levelling and adjusting the grey earth and rocks far below and wondered what was going on.
In six months the machines had taken and distributed 1.8 million tonnes of earth and made the sides of the hole safe and filled in the deepest parts with earth taken from the top. The ingenious people “round the back” had created 83,000 tonnes of growing medium (garden soil) from various minerals, sand, composed bark and other composts to make the long lived organic matter for plants to grow in the two biomes (the largest greenhouses in the world) that they were constructing down in the hole.
And yes – there is now a fifteen year old rain-forest in Cornwall as well as a slice of Mediterranean style climate, both contained and growing merrily inside structures made of 1000s of plastic bubbles contained in steel frames anchored to the ground with giant tent pegs.
I took several groups of photography students to Eden when it was young and I was still teaching in a Cornish FE college. I was impressed then, but now more than a decade later on a visit in January 2016, I am amazed at how the rainforest has grown and how genuine and established the Mediterranean biome has become. The area of garden outside and the other buildings constructed around the site are very interesting and varied. I can’t wait for another visit in Spring and another in Summer.
I stayed at the new YHA complex of converted shipping containers on site. My two nights in a “Snoozebox” were very comfortable but the days were not long enough. I will stay three nights next time and take 3 days to explore, what has become a very large site.
Eden is a wonderful educational experience, by no means just for children. It highlights the destruction and exploitation we are wreaking on our planet and how we can change our behaviour to stop doing it.
Eden has been created by far-sighted people who really care for our world and every living thing that inhabits it, from microscopic things living in the soil, to every insect and animal walking on the planet including us, every one of us, walking every continent rich or poor. Let us stop exploiting our planet and each other, learn to love and really value what we have. Eden, I love you, you are brilliant and I shall be back.