At this year’s Festival of Plants in the Cambridge Botanic Garden, Saturday 18 May 2019, we ran an Amazing Algae stand as part of a large number of activities run during the one-day: a fun-filled, fact-finding day out with something for everyone to enjoy. The day hosted 2,600 visitors of all ages.
Algae are a promising renewable source of nutrients. These microscopic plants can be used for a wide range of food products and sustainable food production pipelines, and are one of the most promising and emerging trends for the food industry. At the Amazing Algae stand, our team of University of Cambridge scientists and volunteers talked to visitors throughout the day about their algal research, and the exciting array of opportunities that algae hold for our future.
Visitors could view different types of algae under the microscope. Younger visitors loved our ride-on algae (space hoppers), and got busy with the hands-on art and craft activities including colouring in the species of algae used in food colourings and sushi, and making weird and wonderful algae from balloons and pipe cleaners to take home. Dr Matt Davey also gave a well-attended short talk on ‘Algae for Food’ in the Talking Plants tent.
New 3D Virtual Reality videos on the topic of food sustainability provided visitors with fascinating insights into where food comes from, its journey from farm to fork, and what our food might look like in the future. There were queues for a virtual look around a greenhouse in Iceland, where tomatoes are being grown using the heat from the Earth. Other visitors were amazed to see food being printed before their eyes!
Amazing Algae was supported by the EIT Food #AnnualFoodAgenda project, led by IMDEA (Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies). The project aims to encourage people to think more about the food they eat and where it comes from. Our 3D Virtual Reality videos are part of a second EIT Food initiative, ‘The FutureKitchen Virtual Reality and EatingHealthy Video Infotainment Series’, launched in Cambridge this spring in collaboration with Icelandic company Matis.