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Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project and founder of 'The Big Lunch' answers your questions

(32 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Jul-10 17:23:41

Chief Executive and co-founder of The Eden Project, Tim Smit, is joining us for a Q and A this week. The Eden Project opened in 2000 in St Austell, Cornwall and has since seen more than 11 million people visit the site, which was once a sterile pit and now a cradle of life containing world class horticulture and startling architecture. Tim also 'discovered' and restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan and is the author of many books on both Heligan and Eden and is a regular broadcaster and contributor to many publications on environmental issues.
This week Tim is helping to launch 'The Big Lunch 2010', which is taking place across the country on Sunday 18th July. The Big Lunch is a one-day get together with your neighbours . It can be anything from a simple lunch to a full-blown street party with DJs and a home cooked feast. For more information on what's going on in your area and how you can join in, visit The Big Lunch Send your questions to Tim from today until Friday 16th and you will be entered into a draw to win a family (2 adults and 2 kids) tickets to visit The Eden Project over the Summer hols.

Batteryhuman Tue 13-Jul-10 18:56:03

Good choice of guest. He is a man I hugely admire for the way he has made good things happen, and I love Heligan and the Eden project and the "big Lunch" is a great idea. now I just have to think of a question..... I'll be back.

deepdarkwood Tue 13-Jul-10 21:33:31

I heart Tim Smit.

My question is ... I'm helping co-organise our street's (low key) Big Lunch for the second time this year ... but we've not had much time to publicise it, and so far, only people I know are coming (last year we had a 50%50% mix of new vs old mates) - what can I do (quickly) to inspire people to come along on Sunday?

GraceK Tue 13-Jul-10 23:23:56

Am a bit confused by this 'Big Lunch' thing with reference to Eden itself. I am aware they are trying to get the rest of the country involved but can't find anything on the website to explain what will actually be happening at Eden itself on 18th July. We are supposed to meeting my cousins there that day & I'd like to know if it's going be a) more packed than usual and b) what different things might be going on there.

Mermaidspam Wed 14-Jul-10 11:27:18

We'll be visiting the Eden project in a fortnight when we're on holiday in Cornwall.

My question is - Do you still serve Pimms that we can sit and drink on the lawn? grin

onebatmother Wed 14-Jul-10 11:29:09

Hello Tim

I'm in awe of your achievements. What on EARTH made you think that any of this could possibly be done. Was there a lightbulb moment?

nowit Wed 14-Jul-10 20:06:24

Hi Tim,

We live in a street where nobody really speaks to each other, the community spirit is really low and the prospect of talking to my neighbours for the first time (in 3 years blush ) is frankly, terrifying.
My children do not attend the local school and myself and my husband work in different locations so very rarely see our neighbours, let alone stop and talk to them.

I understand the idea of community and would love to be a part of one, but where can I start and how on earth could I find the time confused . Any suggestions?

onadietcokebreak Wed 14-Jul-10 20:20:19


I live very closeby and enjoyed seeing paulo nuttini last night. I would like to ask why there has been a massive hike in prices in recent years. I understand the stewards have increased and think the gigs are much more organised however the prices are still a bit too high. I remember standing right next to you (in what is now family viewing area) at either the snowpatrol or embrace gig a few years were very pleased to see everyone enjoying the event. I would like to ask you ensure that people(especially the locals!) can continue to afford these events.

stigofthedump Wed 14-Jul-10 21:13:14

Hi Tim

Saw you speak at Ways with Words when I was 8 months pregnant with dd, nearly 3 years old now. It was really nourishing and magical to hear such a warm, positive & hopeful view on the world and humankind.

Can you do a video for mumsnet that we can click on when feeling world weary and depressed with politics, disasters, etc. It would be more helpful than any kind of medication. Maybe you could also put it on in GP's waiting rooms.

elliemental Thu 15-Jul-10 12:37:25

i would have loved to have organised something but only saw an advert for it last night.
Not sure 3 days is long enough to organise something like this. Why so low-key on the publicity?

MChamakh Thu 15-Jul-10 14:27:32

Is the Eden project not just another sorry example of broken, broken Britain?

Belhadj Thu 15-Jul-10 14:41:17

--hello, no reason for this comment I just want to use the cool emphasis stuff on the right of the comment box.-- shock hmm confused blush angry envy biscuit

Stopthismadness Thu 15-Jul-10 16:23:45

If Tim Smit co-founded the Eden project, who was the other co-founder? Was it God? I seem to remember he had something to do with Eden. Although he might just have done the parking. Also, where are the Gardens of Holligan? They sound nice.

OldGrandad Fri 16-Jul-10 07:28:59

Hi Tim,
I was one of the crew who did your 'This is your life' supprise and hear that you really do not like flying. Why is that?

GraceK Fri 16-Jul-10 09:42:37

I know I sort of asked a question (about Sunday's activities) already? I was also wondering which are the favourite bits of Eden & Helligan? We like the Sacred Grove at Eden and Lost Garden (though not the walk back up the hill) at Helligan

zeno Fri 16-Jul-10 11:24:09

Love the Eden project, loathe its culture of turning a blind eye to staff using parking spaces reserved for disabled people.

So, why have Eden Team developed this culture where it's OK to use the disabled parking at the visitor centre?

In particular, senior staff <ahem> use the drop-off zones by the wheelchairs as their parking spots. Why not just relabel them as exec parking spots and save yourselves from looking like thoughtless eejits <polite version> for parking in them?

Apart from that, good job, love the place and its ethos, thank-you for the music etc.

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:22:22

Hi Deepdarkwood, Put a poster up in your window and ask the others who are coming to do the same. This shows that lots of people are already taking part, and builds momentum. You can use some of the posters on our website or create your own, You can’t beat a personal invite either, go out and speak to as many of your neighbours as possible and get your friends to do the same. On the day, if you have some music, food and a bit of a crowd you’ll be surprised how many pop out to see what’s going on.

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:24:29

Hi GraceK, All those on holidays and trips who won’t be in their own neighbourhood on Sunday are welcome to join our Big Lunch community at The Eden Project. All visitors will be invited to sit down and have lunch together, there’ll be free tea and coffee, jugs of lemonade, bread and jam to share and probably a spot of music and games too.

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:25:19


I’m sure we do! Give us a call though on 01726 811 911 and I’m sure the team will be able to talk you through the entire drinks menu!

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:25:57

Onebatmother, There was a bit of a lightbulb moment. At The Eden Project we believe the world can get better by working together, with nature, optimism and common sense. A street party might seem insignificant but it really does bring people together, and encourages them to open up and break down barriers – it’s a first step towards tackling isolation, crime and other big social issues in our local area. Thousands of people who took part last year all know the impact that The Big Lunch can have and we hope many more will see the benefits after their own Big Lunches this year.

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:26:49

Hello Nowit, sorry to hear there’s not much community spirit where you are. It is a bit scary approaching your neighbours for the first time but you’ll often find that lots of people in the area will be really keen, they’re just waiting for someone to take that first step. Be brave and give it a go! You don’t need to have a big street party, start small and maybe take your immediate neighbours a piece of cake using The Big Lunch as the excuse to start the conversation. Work up to a bigger bash for next year. You’ll notice the benefits almost straight away, and how much nicer to be able to wave to your neighbours than scurry away head down.

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:27:53

onedietcokebreak, We attempt to keep the tickets as reasonably priced as possible and making the sessions as accessible to local residents is of utmost importance to us. Some of the our recent Sessions have sold out in less than 30 minutes(!) so that’s why, we launched the ‘Inside Track’ to help keep people in the know
One of the great things about the Big Lunch this year is the amount of live music happening at lunches across the UK. So for real unrivalled live music value, you can always pop along to a lunch this Sunday and see whose playing there!

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:32:12

Stigofthedump, What a good idea! I’ll make sure Justine and the team here at Mumsnet hear about that one!!

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:33:06

Hi elliemental,
Thanks for your interest in The Big Lunch, sorry you hadn’t heard of it sooner. We did try our best to get the word out to as many people as possible, but this year we’ve had the election and the World Cup to compete with. Maybe you could get involved next year? Why not sign up to our newsletter so you’re first to hear when The Big Lunch 2011 will take place, just send an email to and we’ll add you to our database.

TimSmit Sat 17-Jul-10 10:34:56

Hi Stopthismadness,
The Gardens of Heligan are nice- I can assure you! The gardens are in St Austell. Here are the directions should you wish to pay a visit sometime;

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