Big Lunch to be timed for jubilee

Neighbourhood initiative chosen by monarch as centrepiece for diamond jubilee celebrations.

Eden Project founder Tim Smit says he has been asked by the Queen to time the date of his Big Lunch initiative to coincide with the diamond jubilee in 2012 - a move garden industry players hope will open opportunities for the sector.

The Big Lunch event has attracted one-million neighbours to get together in each of the past two years and this year takes place on 5 June.

Smit said: "I was summoned to Buckingham Palace and the Queen asked me to change the date of the launch in 2012 because she wants it to be the centrepiece of her diamond jubilee." The request came after she toured his 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Big Issue garden built by 537 homeless people.

Smit said: "We're going for it. It's going to be wonderful." The Queen's jubilee weekend will be on 2-5 June 2012 including an extra bank holiday and would include events such as a Thames pageant and others to be announced.

Eden celebrated its 10th year this spring and has attracted 13 million visitors since opening. Smit, speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival, said the next project was to build a bakery. "We're teaching a lot of people how to bake because worldwide nearly everyone lives by flour and water."

He added that Eden's team is to build "the first new major garden in London" for some time, on the top of the South Bank centre.


- John Connel, Retail consultant

"This sounds like another great opportunity for garden centres to play a proactive role in their communities. With the trend for socialising at home and staycations, garden centres are ideally positioned to deliver materials to help their customers prepare for such events. Event marketing is a powerful way of theming merchandise. We need to apply the same skills to these national celebrations."

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