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I began my “environmental career” as a mere child of 16, in the field of forestry—first by planting trees as part of reforestation programs, then later working for an environmental consulting firm for the forestry industry.

I remember one job quite clearly. I was measuring out a clear cut block of old growth forest—a forest so remote that the lumber was to be transported down the mountain by helicopter. As I stood on this mountaintop surrounded by trees over 700 years old, I had my own mountaintop epiphany—namely, that these trees belonged to someone else. They weren’t just a resource for humans; they were part of God’s beloved creation, something God cared for, and thus warranted stewarding.

I didn’t chain myself to a tree that day and I still heartily believe in sustainable forestry and enjoy its products, but what I realized that day on the mountain was that I should love and care for what God loves and cares for. This conviction would later be deepened by what I learned from the Bible about our role as earthkeepers.

It’s this theological grounding that gives me the hope to keep going, because it’s not always easy. The news of environmental degradation can be bleak; but it’s why I’m so excited by the work of A Rocha, where people from all walks of life are coming together to practically care for the earth in humble yet significant ways.

Much of this coming together and practical care occurs in or around one of our “hubs”—our centres in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario. But it is also happening in farther flung places; in A Rocha supported community gardens all over Canada as well as in the hundreds of churches that are using our Good Seed Sunday resources to equip and inspire their congregations to care for the earth.

I invite you to read on and learn more, not only about the Christian call to earthkeeping, but also how that call is being lived out through the work of A Rocha.

Markku Kostamo
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What’s Christianity got to do with the Environment?

The Bible has quite a bit to say about the environment– far more than can be fit into a tidy two-page article! Nevertheless, here are a few important biblical themes that lay the groundwork for an ethic of Creation Care:

1. What is humanity’s place in Creation?
Throughout Christian history we have tended to read the Bible as though human life was all God was interested in. However, the true biblical vision is one of all Creation flourishing with human beings as God’s appointed stewards and safeguards of it all. Our “caring for and keeping” the garden (Gen 2:15) and our “ruling over and subduing” Creation (Gen 1: 26-28) are the fitting actions of a human life rightly oriented towards God, our neighbors, and all of Creation.

This world belongs to God and was created out of love. “The whole earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” declares the psalmist (24:1), building on the Genesis account of God delighting in all of Creation and declaring it “very good.” The praise which the psalmist offers to God in worship is the fitting response to God’s gracious work of creating and sustaining all that is. We are born into a world in which all of our needs are provided for by the hand of a generous and loving God. And not just our “needs” – if God were only interested in our “needs” we would have a far simpler world! Consider the sheer variety of finches and fish. This is not about necessity but abundance! And the Bible clearly proclaims this abundant world was made and is everywhere sustained by a God who loves it.

2. What is the problem?
The reality of human disobedience and brokenness – what the Bible calls sin – is not just about disobedience to God, but also the fracturing of our core human identity. Our relationships with God, other humans, and all Creation are now broken.

Hosea 4:1-3 puts it cogently: “Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness, no love of God, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.”

This motif of havoc is echoed by many prophets. While human beings have the great and holy role of being stewards and safeguards of Creation, their failure to do this leads quite quickly to the chaos the prophets envision, a chaos we can relate to today as refugees from environmental degradation reach historic levels and the land lies polluted under our feet.

3. What is our hope?
The New Testament offers a hopeful vision of redemption. Colossians 1:15-20 states, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Jesus), and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, having made peace through the blood of His cross; whether things on earth or things in heaven.” It is explicitly clear–God is reconciling all things to Himself through Christ.

God’s redemption and reconciliation is not just about humanity – it is cosmic in scope! Paul writes in Romans, “Creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the children of God” (8:19). God’s New Creation is in the process of being born right now! God is at work in the world “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Our great fortune is participating in that work and bearing witness to the life and ways of Jesus in all that we do.

The future which New Testament writers anticipate is “a new heaven and a new earth” —one cleansed from the effects of human sin and violence, reconciled to God, and with redeemed image bearers walking in the ways of Jesus. This, I suggest, is the heart of the biblical vision of earthkeeping. If God’s future promises the reconciliation of all things, then we have work to do in the present caring for all things the way God does. We respond to the great hope of Christ’s resurrection and give our lives towards this vision of all Creation restored, reconciled, and flourishing.

Go to for more resources on the biblical mandate for creation care.

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Watershed Discipleship

Want to be a steward in your own watershed? To get some advice on how to do that, we spoke to Zo Ann Morten, member of A Rocha Canada’s Scientific Advisory Board and Executive Director of The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. She suggested starting out by joining with others to  engage in small, local projects that reflect your care for Creation.


Gather Information: Set up a Google Alert using your stream’s name as the keyword; you’ll get an email whenever the stream is mentioned in news posted on the web.

Peruse the Streamkeepers Federation handbook. Click through the links to the Stewardship Series hosted by the Land Stewardship Centre of Canada. This national agency works in each province and is a networker’s treasure trove for information on all areas of creation stewardship.

Start your own: Check with your municipality about doing a streamkeeping project in a local park with some friends. Attitude is key: groups who act practically to care for streams before they come under threat are more effective in dealing with development pressures than those that form in reaction to a threat.

Choose a project:

  • Clean up garbage
  • Plant native trees and shrubs and remove invasives
  • Document change in the watercourse through the year
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Centre Updates



A Rocha Centres are places of transformational engagement. It’s more than a catchphrase, it’s what happens when young scientists, farmers and educators are immersed in the practical work of earthkeeping. The transformation comes not only from the hands-on work but from the fact that it all happens within a nurturing Christian community where people are empowered to put their most cherished values into action.

The Brooksdale Environmental Centre in Surrey, BC, is a place where children explore the natural world on field trips, young scientists learn conservation skills, and the local community enjoys fresh, organically grown veggies and a quiet place to reflect. Brooksdale is not only graced with a large garden and a number of beautiful heritage buildings, it is also home to an ecologically sensitive stretch of the Little Campbell River. This makes it the perfect place for our conservation, education, and agriculture work as well as for hospitality and retreat.


Pembina Valley

A Rocha’s Centre in Southern Manitoba is nestled on the bluffs of the Pembina Valley overlooking the Pembina River. Thousands of visitors have made their way to this special and picturesque place over the past few years. From students studying the watershed to school children participating in a geocaching adventure to those seeking solitude off the beaten path, all have been welcomed to experience God’s creation first hand. And with the completion of our new Education Centre, we are able to offer year-round classroom and meeting space when visitors are ready to get out of the cold.

Planted in Hamilton

Imagine a beautiful property with rolling hills, fields, forest, and hedgerows filled with moss-covered boulders. Near the front of the property, a lovingly-restored 150-year-old farmhouse sits next to a beautiful pond surrounded by wetlands. This is Cedar Haven Farm.

Located in southern Ontario, halfway between Guelph and Hamilton, this 95-acre property has been shaped by multiple forces. The underlying bedrock is part of the Niagara Escarpment, shaped and formed by the great ice ages that covered North America with ice shelves 2 km deep.

As one of the first properties settled in the area in the 1850s, the land was cleared and the property has been shaped by farming ever since. However, because significant parts of the farm are too wet or rocky for tilling, much of the property is covered by Carolinian forest typical to the area.

The owners of Cedar Haven Farm, Bill and Lyndia Hendry, have very graciously extended an invitation for A Rocha Canada to work on the property. We have been actively involved in education, biodiversity surveys, invasive species removal, and a birdhouse installation partnership with a local high school.

Last year we installed over 50 birdhouses, divided between the spring and the fall. The birdhouses were a hot item among the local birds. We had Tree Swallows and House Wrens move in, and especially exciting was the fact that at least 2 houses contained Eastern Bluebirds. We are thrilled to partner with the Hendrys in stewarding their incredibly diverse and special property.

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Project Highlights

Farm to Families

“I am happy when I come to A Rocha because I get to spend time with my family and friends from Bangladesh. I have come to Fun on the Farm for three years. I enjoy cooking more now, and I have learned about new vegetables like swiss chard and kale. I use the recipes that I have learned at A Rocha at home and I’m eating healthier. After learning to grow food at A Rocha, I encouraged my mother to apply for a community garden plot. We grow potatoes, squash, zucchini, spinach and corn, and I help her garden on weekends. I invited my friend Sayeedah, and she has started to come to Fun on the Farm with her three boys. When I come to A Rocha, I feel like I am welcomed into a big family who are polite and care for me. I like it so much that I do not feel like going home.”

-Dilara Gegum, age 17

Dilara visits the Brooksdale Centre as part of our Farm to Families project. Under the leadership of Shauna Anderson, this project reaches out to new immigrants and refugees as well as local Canadians living on the economic margins. Two Saturdays a month, participants get their hands dirty in the garden, learn new cooking skills in our kitchen or at our outdoor cob oven, and explore the natural world around the farm. For many the highlight of the day is the shared noon-time meal in which participants, staff, and volunteers enjoy each other’s company and the fruits of their labours.

It is a privilege to journey with people like Dilara who help us make a tangible connection between creation care, justice and poverty.

Educating For Wonder

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder… he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in”

– Rachel Carson

E.O. Wilson, the Harvard biologist, has a theory called the “biophilia hypothesis.” In short, that humans are innately attracted to nature. However, through lack of access to the outdoors, or being plugged into too many gadgets for too long, a child’s love for the natural world can go dormant or even be extinguished. A Rocha’s education programs attempt to preserve children’s innate love of creation.

We do this through place-based learning programs at our centres in BC and Manitoba and at our new partner-farm in southern Ontario. Whether they visit as part of a school field trip or during one of our summer day camps, children get up close and personal with the natural world. They dip nets into ponds and pull out tadpoles and invertebrates; they peer through binoculars and spot birds; and they go on “habitat hunts,” exploring the fields, forest and wetlands. As a result, they come away with a greater appreciation for the intricacies and beauty of creation and their place in it.

To learn more or book OUT a field trip check out

Caring for Creation in the Greater Toronto Area

A Rocha’s work in the Greater Toronto Area begins with stewarding our relationships—with God, our local human communities and our nearby natural spaces. This means joining our neighbours in actively caring for sensitive areas as an expression of worship of the One who creates, redeems and sustains it all. A few of the places where A Rocha is active include:

The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust’s StarCliff Nature Reserve, where we’re conserving the reserve’s biodiversity (including its monarch butterfly habitat), primarily through monitoring and controlling the spread of invasive plants—especially garlic mustard, common buckthorn and dog-strangling vine. Join us!

The East Don River’s and Taylor- Massey Creek’s ravines, where A Rocha encourages and equips groups to clean up the decades-old “trash caches” (think geocaching).

Asbridges Bay, where A Rocha assists with the Church of the Resurrection’s annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (a grassroots citizen science program of Bird Studies Canada), where volunteers identify birds, especially overwintering ducks from Northern Canada.

Follow us on twitter @arochaontario and join us in the field

Raptor Explosion in Manitoba’s Pembina Valley

February is not a month Canadians associate with the spring migration of birds. The temperatures are cold and the landscape is frozen solid. What bird in its right mind would travel north from the balmy south into winter’s grip!?

Well, eagles for one! Over the past nine years, A Rocha has been monitoring the raptor migration in Manitoba’s Pembina Valley, about 125 km southwest of Winnipeg. The first day of the 2013 count was set for February 18, but no count was made because Manitoba was experiencing one of its typical blizzards. The next day, however, skies cleared and confirmation that the raptor migration was underway came with a count of four adult Bald Eagles. This was just the beginning of a flood of raptors.

On May 6, the last day of the 2013 count, observers had documented over 18,000 raptors of 17 species. Most raptor species had higher counts than ever recorded for the valley. As usual, Red-tailed Hawks made up the majority (12,500). A new addition to the Pembina Valley count was the Gyrfalcon. One of the most unexpected counts, however, was that of the Peregrine Falcon. On a good year, one might record seven passing through. In 2013, 210 Peregrines were recorded, an astounding number never documented before in Canada during migration! A late spring and lingering winter probably had an effect on the high count for some bird of prey species. The 2014 Pembina Valley raptor count will be an important milestone as it marks a decade of data collection.

Thank you to the Bill and Margaret Fast Family foundation for generous partnership.

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What in the Sam Hill

Sam Hill Creek is a two kilometre tributary of the Little Campbell River in Surrey, BC; as for what’s in it—a whole lot! It’s a small stream but it supports numerous species such as the vulnerable Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora), as well as spawning and juvenile Coho Salmon. However, the stream is under constant stress from urban and rural development, resulting in increased erosion, fecal contamination and presence of invasive species, among other issues.

Thanks to funding from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, A Rocha has been working with landowners to restore Sam Hill Creek and other tributaries along the Little Campbell, making it a more hospitable place for all creatures. One such project occurred at Semiahmoo Stables and involved construction of a fence to keep horses out of the stream, removal of invasive plant species, and planting of native riparian plant species.

Landowner Wayne Morris said “I appreciated the opportunity to enhance the look of our property and, more importantly, work towards improving the salmon stream conservation program.”

A Rocha is excited to partner with more landowners and make sure the inhabitants of Sam Hill thrive.

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A Rocha Peru

In January 2014, A Rocha Canada president Markku Kostamo and ARC board member Karen Reed travelled to Peru to join with four other national organization leaders (Peru, Brazil, USA, and New Zealand) to participate in an A Rocha International consultation for the movement’s global strategic planning.

While in Peru Markku and Karen were granted an up close and personal tour of A Rocha’s work in that country. After a few days in Lima at the administrative headquarters, Markku and his colleagues travelled to Northern Peru to the city of Trujillo to see some of A Rocha’s work on the ground.

They visited an impoverished barrio called New Jerusalem, where migrants from Andean mountain villages now live in a desert with access to only 12 litres of water per day (supplied via a water truck). What gave these people joy, recounted Markku, was their little patch of garden in front of their shanty houses. A Rocha is partnering with a mom’s club in this impoverished community and giving hope through environmental education as they teach basic recycling and gardening skills.

The A Rocha team in Trujillo is also partnering with churches and other community groups to plant forests of native, desert-loving Prosopis trees. The Prosopis is one of the world’s most ancient and most endangered trees, with forests reduced to a fraction of their former range. People of all ages are getting involved, creating tree nurseries in their own backyards. Once established, Prosopis forests prevent desertification, provide traditional food and fuel supplies for the local communities and act as a keystone species, underpinning all the biodiversity in their surrounding habitat.

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A review by John Elwood

If you think of yourself as an earthkeeper, you’ve almost certainly struggled with the tension between living and responding to global threats to the creation and the simple daily tasks of earthkeeping. After all, what will planting a dozen chestnut trees really accomplish in the face of such menacing threats?

This is the world I live in, and until recently I hadn’t seen many examples of others who have found a workable way of living in both spheres: deeply moved by global-scale abuse of creation, but firmly committed to a sense of place and the renewal of those things under our stewardship. Into that world steps Leah Kostamo, with her book Planted, and finally, I’ve seen someone with a real story – told with insight and humor – about the struggle to live hopefully. This is no lecture or environmental tract. It’s a story of ordinary people learning to restore life-giving connections, sometimes against impossible odds.

So for me, I set down this book with a little more spring in my step. Sure, I’ll head down to the EPA tomorrow to testify in favor of carbon standards for power plants. But I’ll also take a little time to get those saplings planted. I’ll look for opportunities to welcome strangers into my home and church. And despite the daily influx of bad news, I’ll once again look to God to intervene in unexpected ways in the world that he continues to love and promises to renew.

A longer version of this review can be found on

Watch Leah Kostamo and Margaret Atwood share moments of laughter, singing, and musing on creation care themes—check out their conversation at A Rocha’s Green Gala

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Get Involved with A Rocha

Leave a Legacy of Environmental Stewardship

Remembering A Rocha in your will ensures that the work of creation care will be carried out for years to come. However, knowing how to maximize estate donations can require some expertise. We are happy to announce that Dave Lee, executive with the Fraser Valley Estate Planning Council, has recently teamed up with A Rocha and is available to chat about how to thoughtfully consider your charitable giving goals through the lens of tax rules, your charitable values and family considerations.

Contact Dave

T: 604.535.4743  |


Community Garden

Community Garden Network inspires not only a garden but other acts of stewardship. The members of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC, are growing more than a community garden. They are growing in relationship to the Creator as well as in their understanding of how their urban lifestyles can honour God.

Empowered by the idea of caring for the earth and their neighbours, congregants have sown, weeded, and harvested bushels of vegetables in raised beds just inches away from a busy East Vancouver street. In the past two years, the food grown in Tenth’s “ Healing Garden” has graced the dishes served in the church’s weekly community meals.

Ranging from fresh salad greens to garlic and culinary herbs, the goodness of these local and organically grown veggies add to the warmth and welcoming hospitality extended to all who come to the church’s table.

Tenth Church also composts all their food waste and scraps, and uses compostable paper cups and plates. Furthermore, all paper used is 100% recycled.

Care for Creation and Change your Life

Are you 18 years or older and looking for practical experience in earthkeeping? Are you interested in gaining this experience while living in a welcoming and vibrant community?

Internships are available in the following program areas:

  • Conservation Science
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Education
  • Generalist

To learn more check out or email

A Rocha Canada 2013 - 2014 Financial Report Mobile Arrow

A Rocha Canada 2013 - 2014 Financial Report



1) Donations (Individuals, Churches & Corporations)


2) Grants (Foundations & Government)


3) Environmental Centre Revenue & Program Fees


Operating Subtotal


4) Capital Projects – Grants & Donations


Total Income







Environmental Centre Revenue & Program Files


Capital Projects



Expenditures & Capital Asset Investment


1) Programs (Conservation, Education, Sustainable Living, and Brooksdals & Pembina Valley Centre Operations)


2) Administration


3) Fundraising


Operating Subtotal


4) Capital Expenditures


Total Expenditures









Capital Expenditure



We are incredibly grateful to the following funders for their partnership in our conservation, education and sustainable agriculture work:

Department of Fisheries and Ocean Canada, Manitoba Urban Green Team, HRDC, Habitat Stewardship Program, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Science Horizons Program, TD Friends of the Environment, The Stewardship Foundation of Canada, The Vancouver Foundation, The Winnipeg Foundation, The United Way of Lower Mainland BC, and World Vision Canada.