This article is summarised from an interview with Jon Cox, Executive Director of Adventure Plus. The full interview will be available online soon.
I co-run an outdoor education centre, Adventure Plus in Oxfordshire with my wife, Tessa. Adventure Plus encourages young people in the UK to embrace the adventure of faith that includes, therefore, getting out into the beauty of God’s creation and enjoying some brilliant adventure activities.
For most of Adventure Plus’ 30 years, we’ve not had our own site. But a few years ago we realised that we could reach a lot more young people if we could establish our own centre. We were offered a farm by a family of Christian farmers. Thanks be to God that funding came in to buy it. We now have an 80-acre site and we’re constantly looking for ways to mix the excitement of the adventure activities with the beauty, peace and quiet of the natural world. We now have the opportunity to connect about 20,000 children and young people – largely from urban areas – with nature, each year.
God’s creation is huge, it’s beautiful. It blesses us incredibly and there is so much to be learned, even about the character of the creator God, from what he’s created. Mixing the joy of being out in the beauty of God’s creation with an awareness of how it all works and the importance of looking after it is part of what Adventure Plus aims to achieve.
We are working very hard to ensure that our site is carbon neutral. We have worked with local landscape architect & A Rocha supporter, Jonathan Ford, to create a site Master Plan that will really both maximise the use of the site as an adventure centre whilst also increasing biodiversity and ecological value of the site.
Our plans include:
The farm is actually called Windmill Farm, so it will be very difficult for the planners to deny there’s a precedent for having some wind energy generation on site. Most of our buildings are South-facing so there are some great opportunities for solar and there’s a lot of space to ground source heat as well.
I think there will be a very exciting ‘before and after’ story here because most of the site is still that green monoculture. As we start to implement the proposed plans including wildflower meadows, woodland corridors and clearings and the wetland, I think there will be a brilliant increase in biodiversity across the site.
We are a lot more powerful as a network, if there are enough of us making our own plot of land more productive and regenerative. Our land doesn’t have to look like a mess, we can put some thought into design. We don’t need to trim all of the grass straight away; let flowering plants run their course a little bit longer for the bees; leave some fringes around our gardens. We may still want to have some nice niche areas in our land but let’s be prepared to be more relaxed and more intentional about what we are leaving to nature. Some will rewild their entire garden; for others that may not work. If we simply allow some areas to be more productive and encourage more diversity by just taming things a little bit less, it will make a huge difference [to addressing our climate and biodiversity crises].
A+ is excited to be hosting a series of Conservation Volunteer Weekends in the coming year. Please contact Matthew our A+ Conservation Intern at Conservation@adventureplus.org.uk for further information.
Any readers interested to know more about the original calling behind A+ and so many examples of God’s faithfulness, provision and guidance along the way, could pick up a copy (or kindle version) of Life to the Max
Adventure Plus is one of A Rocha UK’s Partners in Action. You can find out more about our Partner in Action programme and partners here.