The Treasures of Autumn

Great participation on the weekend of 17 and 18 October

The first university botanical garden in the world continues to fascinate an increasingly enthusiastic public. On the occasion of World Food Day, it was decided to devote this Scienza in Orto to the theme of family agriculture, the common thread of all the activities organised by the garden’s museum services managers in association with Padua University. The format was to entertain the public for the whole weekend with scientific games, botanical shows and interactive workshops, and the outcome was the complete enjoyment of parents, grandparents and children, along with many visitors from outside.

More than 1700 people including numerous families braved the cloudy and sometimes rainy weather, resulting in a 42% increase in entrances. All the guided visits to the ancient ‘Garden of Simples’, starting hourly, were overbooked. There was plenty of participation in the treasure hunts, always a delight for the children, who ran through the big glasshouses in the Garden of Biodiversity in search of, to them, mysterious, rare and often gigantic plants, without being scared off by the Latin writing. And parents took part alongside their children discovering the secrets of the potential transformations of cocoons, seeds and fruit, or the surprising use of their disposal; and finding fruit that have now been forgotten, like jujubes, hazelnuts, the fruit of the strawberry tree, cornelian cherries, rowan berries and gooseberries.

The high point of the festival was the conference held on Sunday afternoon by the renowned geneticist Guido Barbujani and the presenter Patrizio Roversi: ‘Capre, cavoli, uomini: evoluzione, biodiversità e alimentazione” (Goats, cabbages, men: evolution, biodiversity and food). After a start between the serious and the flippant, they introduced the very serious questions of biodiversity, what it is, what risks it involves and of what one doesn’t need to be scared of, to a packed hall of more than 180, mostly booked, attentive and very engaged people. They then discussed the evolution of biodiversity (i.e. Darwin against the inheritance of acquired characteristics) and ended with the problem of GMOs. This was followed by a debate attracting wide audience participation, which unfortunately had to be interrupted with the close of the Garden.

So it was a festive atmosphere, made possible partly thanks to the cooperation of the Garden staff, and in which the adults were as entertained as much as their children; a success that once again showed how much this place is loved and is a landmark to the city.

Last weekend the La Scienza in Orto cycle ended after four weekends over the course of the year, one for each season, attracting more than 10,000 people overall to science promotion and games guided by the expert explainers of ADMaiora Srl.