Our goal is to build a British & European Wildlife Reserve that will feature birds of prey, red fox, red squirrel, reindeer, artic fox and pine marten among others.
We want to support the protection and conservation of our wonderful native species, many of which are endangered. We're passionate about offering educational experiences that will teach visitors about our wildlife, their behaviours, and how we can protect their native environments.
Together for the Future
We're also investing in children – creating something that will benefit all our communities. Our target is to reach 250,000 children by 2023, via schools and charities, giving them outdoor learning experiences they may not otherwise have. We want to inspire future generations about our countryside and give them positive messages about what we can all do for conservation.
Our plan is to start building March 2018, with the Wildlife Reserve opening in July 2018. We’d be so grateful if you can be part of it.
Who We Are
We're The Green Dragon Rare Breeds Farm & Eco Park, a growing small business situated situated in the Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, UK, within 45 acres of rolling countryside. Our farm’s ethos is conservation and sustainability and we promote healthy lifestyles through recreation, education and social play.
Our existing animal collection includes rare-breed farm animals across cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and waterfowl, and a Pets’ Corner including common and exotic pets. Our catering uses ingredients sourced from the farm and we have acres given over to meadow, nature trails and bird watching. Our sustainable buildings use renewable energy and waste prevention systems and we employ 30 local people.
We run outdoor learning activities aligned to the national curriculum and the seasons, on horticulture, agriculture, farming, pet care and food provenance. Since we opened in 2014, we've grown dramatically and seen visitor numbers rise by more than 20% year on year. We've doubled the schools we partner with and have welcomed thousands of children to enjoy outdoor learning experiences. We have a large visitor database and following on social media, and strong links with local councils, tourism organisations and business groups. Our success demonstrates the popularity of outdoor facilities, particularly when integrated with education and hands-on learning where the benefits are becoming increasingly recognised.
As a young man (some time ago now!) founder and co-owner Ray Marzec dreamed of having a rare breeds’ farm - at a time they were very uncommon. With no money whatsoever, it seemed a long way off and was only made possible by persistence and hard work as Ray earned the needed investment . Finally, in 2002, Ray and his partner Lesley were able to buy The Green Dragon site. It had previously been a pig farm, which had depleted the land, and it took another 12 years of intensive preparation before the Eco Farm opened in 2014.
Along with a passion for conservation, Ray and Lesley have a keen interest in food, art, sustainable living and the natural world, and as the plan evolved, they sought to bring all these together. The farm has realised their vision - not just of conservation of endangered rare breed farm animals, but of good locally sourced food, heritage fruit and veg, renewable energy and waste prevention systems.
Jay Wood, General Manager My love for animals started at a very young age. I had my first pet lizard at 11 years old and my first reptile house in the back garden at 15! I studied animal care at college and at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park gained my NVQ Level 2 in Wild Animal Management. I moved to Linton Zoo, Cambridgeshire where I formally trained to become a zoo keeper and gained my internationally recognised qualification in Zoo Animal Management. I spent 10 years at Colchester Zoo in Essex, developing skills from business management to animal husbandry, and I went on to represent Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur park, West Midland Safari Park, Five Sisters Zoo and Tropical Wings Zoo. I've been at the Green Dragon for 18 months now, supporting Ray and Lesley’s dream to diversify into wildlife whist maintaining their true roots as a sustainably-led farm park.
Adam Fleming, Livestock Supervisor
I started working with animals over 10 years ago as a volunteer in a zoo and gaining valuable experience. As my passion and knowledge increased, I was given my first full-time job within a zoo. I gained further experience with several zoological collections and some amazing species, then was lucky enough to join the Green Dragon as a senior livestock assistant, and am now the livestock supervisor. The job is so varied; every day is different and I love working with the school groups who visit. The best part of the job for me is creating health plans for all our animals, giving them the best conditions possible.
Next Steps - Wildlife & Education
The natural next step is to take the farm into the conservation of our wonderful native & European wildlife. We want to develop a Children's Partnership Programme that will widen the appeal of the farm and inspire a broader range of children, forging links with more charities, specialist schools, Scouting & Guide organisations and college and university students as well.
The farm's focus will expand to enable more children to share and enjoy experiences of the great outdoors whilst learning about conservation.
The Wildlife & Their Welfare
The birds of prey, or raptors under the generic name, will include the barn owl, eagle owl, long eared owl, golden eagle and white tailed eagle. Other species planned include fallow and other species of deer, the wild cat and the white stork.
We adhere to the Five Freedoms criteria as covered in the Animal Welfare Act. The emphasis of our wildlife conservation focuses on animal rescue and rehabilitation, captive breeding for release, and translocation (moving animals to environments that suit their natural behaviours).
A Unique & Ambitious Project
Creating a dedicated British & European Wildlife Reserve and introducing native species alongside livestock and pet animals is a unique and ambitious new development for a British farm park.
Three acres of the farm will be given over to extra large enclosures rarely seen in zoos or wildlife parks, where responsibly-sourced, rehabilitated and rescued animals will be housed in naturalistic environments where they are able to perform their natural behaviours.
Design of Wildlife Reserve
The central building has been designed to enable indoor viewing and teaching space, with the enclosures and aviaries also viewable from outside.
There will be an outdoor display lawn where demonstrations and flying displays can take place, encouraging the natural behaviours of the animals and enabling visitor participation.
Interpretation boards will give information about each species, their link to UK and European native habitats, and how conservation can help them in the wild.
Please get involved!
We are funding the project through a variety of sources including from the existing business, an application for a rural business grant, and crowdfunding. We're so grateful you have visited our page. Whatever you can pledge is so important to make this project a reality and grow our conservation community, of which you'll be be a part.
We'll send you regular updates as to how our fundraising is going and when hopefully the build begins.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.