Eden Project has announced expansion plans with a new plant nursery and education centre.
The educational and environmental charity wants to restore the 17th Century Restineas farmhouse, a former bakehouse and four barns surrounding it into a new educational centre and create the nursery around it.
Known as the Emergence Academy, the restored buildings 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.
David Harland, interim chief executive of the Eden Project, near St Austell, Cornwall, 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.”
Eden said it had 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.
Mr Harland said the investment was designed to support Eden’s ambition to grow its formal and informal educational programmes on the same site as its public education facility.
It comes as demand for the activities and the provision of more educational opportunities has been rising as numbers for Eden-based student programmes, residential courses and leisure learning have all increased steadily in the last five years.
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 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.
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.
Mr Harland added: “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.”