The Eden project in Cornwall
preaches hope, education and dreams for a better world from beneath bubbles that mushroom out of the earth. Funded by millennium lottery grants, “the world’s largest greenhouse” threw open its bubbles in 2001 and never looked back.
The first exhibit is the “outdoor biome” – a technically excellent array of flowerbeds that sway with colour and discuss the complexities of hybrid plants. I found it hard to concentrate, though. I wanted to get inside those domes: the temperate and tropical worlds.
As I entered the Eden Project’s temperate biome, a sense of peace and ease washed over me. Surrounded by Mediterranean warmth, olive groves and citrus trees, I rubbed cotton between my fingers and read about perfume production. I followed the travel history of the tomato and read about the biological curiosity of South Africa’s unique Cape gardens.
The tropical biome,
however, snapped me back to reality, focusing more on the injustices of the present than romantic ideas about the past. Here, the Eden Project flung me into the humid, sticky sauna of the tropical world, complete with towering palms and a half hour climb to reach a waterfall. Between shacks assembled from coca-cola cans, plastic containers and old tarpaulin, the Eden Project tells the stories of bananas, sugar, coffee and bamboo. And their related politics of cash crops, slavery and subsidies.
Is a day in the Eden Project better than visiting the Mediterranean, South Africa or the tropical rainforests? No, of course not. But it does bring some of those experiences alive – and of course it can be done in a cheap weekend break.
Tips for Visiting the Eden Project
Food here can be very expensive – consider bringing your lunch with you.
Try to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Eden Project Admission Prices – it’s possible to get a discount by booking online and by walking or cycling to the complex instead of driving.