The Campaign For Brooksdale

The Story of Brooksdale

Intro To A Rocha Canada

“I can’t remember ever being at an environmental event that was so full of joy. If all Christians were like those in A Rocha, ours would be a radically different world.”


A Brooksdale Story

Last September, Madison joined us at the Brooksdale Environmental Centre as an intern.

Madison doesn’t come from a background of Christian faith.  She does, however, love nature, and after completing a BA at the University of Ottawa, she is now working toward a second degree in environmental biology.

Over the course of her internship, Madison worked with each of our program teams.  She shared at her farewell that, despite some ups and downs in her personal life, she had learned a lot.  Most of all though, her primary experience at A Rocha had been love. “What I’ve experienced most is love. So much love… And it’s felt foreign. But also beautiful.”

Madison’s experience was very personal and meaningful, but it isn’t unique.

Read More

There is something special about a community that is shaped by caring for creation. As humans we are meant to be planted—rooted—in our physical environment. We are meant to be attentive to the creation around us—to know and to care for it. This focus awakes wonder in us, and reveals the value of that particular piece of creation that is in front of us. And once we recognize the beauty and value of that barn swallow and that western toad, we also become more attentive to and caring toward the people around us. And ourselves.

So the staff at the Brooksdale Environmental Centre regularly hear similar comments.
“Being here has helped me to start loving myself more.”
“I have never felt so welcome anywhere, as I have here.”

A Rocha’s preferred way of participating in transformation is to work on long stories. To be present in a location for the long haul, nurturing a community that – in caring for the place and its people – will impact a watershed’s ecological, social and cultural life for the long-term.

That is why we at A Rocha are so excited about the future of the Brooksdale Environmental Centre.  And why we want you to be a part of it.  

“Being here has helped me to start loving myself more.”

“I’ve moved a LOT over the past 10-15 years, but I have never felt so welcome anywhere, as I have here.”

Former Intern Feedback

An Ideal Time To Update Brooksdale

In February 2016, A Rocha officially gained title of the property that is the Brooksdale Environmental Centre.  It is a $4.1 million gift from a beloved donor family. As owners, A Rocha is now positioned to updated the 85 year-old buildings for all our programming, including retreats.

More About Brooksdale

Brooksdale is a protected heritage property and includes 9 buildings and a barn, situated on 17 acres of farmland, forest, river and pond that is perfect for our gardening, research and conservation work.  We have been stewarding this property since 2010, and the Centre now hosts over 5,000 visitors per year, including over 2,000 kids through our environmental education programs with public and private schools.

In October 2016, A Rocha took title on Hazelmere Cottage, the large house and 10-acre property on the east side of A Rocha’s stetch of the Little Campbell River.  This, too, was a long discernment journey that included a few early donors pledging to donate over two-thirds of the purchase price.

More about Hazelmere Cottage

The property was a strategic purchase that enables us to host 15 interns at once (instead of 7), thus preparing more leaders for hands-on conservation, education and hospitality work that can ripple out to transform their home communities after they leave.

As of Spring 2017, the Local Area Plan being developed by the City of Surrey for the 660 acres around Brooksdale is in its final stage of preparation before going to city council.  

If approved, Surrey would develop the Brooksdale stretch of 16th Avenue into a “Napa Valley”-type neighborhood.  It would become a showcase southern entrance to Surrey, with businesses related to hospitality or agrifood, with community-based agriculture, and with biking & walking networks that connect to the Little Campbell River and local eco-village residential neighborhoods.

This will position Brooksdale well for increased visibility and outreach in Surrey, particularly as this new neighborhood will be a showpiece for Surrey’s environmental sustainability.

More About The Local Area Plan

You may have heard about this Local Area Plan in September 2015 due to the controversy over a potential semi truck servicing facility that was proposed for the fields right across 16th Avenue from the Brooksdale Environmental Centre.  Thankfully that proposal has now been withdrawn, and the 18 months of resulting community consultation has led to a Local Area Plan that would promote and conserve the area’s agricultural heritage and natural beauty.

See The Local Area Plan Map

Finally, as Brooksdale grows, its leadership team is focused on diversifying its revenue streams through sustainable earned income.  Each component of the Campaign for Brooksdale is designed to improve missional impact and to increase earned revenue.

So donations to the campaign will be leveraged into longer-term income to sustain the organization.

“The environmental research work done by A Rocha, and in particular their mapping related to species of concern, has been a very valuable resource … as we develop land use plans and policies to guide future development, and as we assess development proposals and make informed recommendations to City Council.”

DON LUYMES, Community Planning Manager for the City of Surrey

Campaign Goals

Barn & Hospitality Centre

to restore the 85 year-old heritage barn into a learning centre and build a new adjacent food & hospitality centre

  • $850k raised of $3.15m  –  $2.3m needed
Hazelmere Cottage

to purchase the adjacent 10 acres of river and forest habitat & refurbish the 37 year-old house for the internship program

  • $1.2m raised of $2.25m  –  $1.05m needed
Brooksdale Site & Upgrades

to acquire the land & upgrade the 85 year-old buildings for all programming, including retreats

  • $4.6m raised of $5.1m  –  $500k needed

“A barn raiser is a party, usually providing food and drink, during which a barn is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community.

We host 5,000 visitors a year through our environmental education programs with schoolchildren, adults, refugees, interns and international visitors. But we have only one living room in which to host groups.

Transforming our old barn into a Learning Centre will enable us to more comfortably host the visitors we already have, and provide flexibility for our programming in the future.”

DAVID ANDERSON, Brooksdale Centre Director

Barn & Hospitality Centre

Renovating the 1930s heritage barn into a Conservation Learning Centre
  • The renovation will create a learning space with two smaller classrooms on the main floor and meeting space in the hay loft for up to 100 people.
  • Along with a new foundation, the renovation includes new roof, windows, wheelchair accessible lift and washrooms.
  • This transformation will make the heritage barn the initial point of welcome for all events.
Building an adjacent Food & Hospitality Centre
  • Seating for up to 100 guests for meals.
  • Commercial kitchen with walk-in freezers.
  • Space for improved management and processing of food from the gardens.
Reasons To Do It


  • Brooksdale has only one indoor teaching space –a living room with a maximum capacity of 40 people.
  • Brooksdale has maximum meal seating for only 50, despite the fact that we host between 40-100 people for lunch on most week-days. The Hospitality Centre will enable our dining capacity to match our hosting in the Learning Centre.
Because of the Campaign...
  • The Hospitality Centre will become the main food hub for site visitors, thereby freeing the current small kitchen in the main house to provide private dining for Guest House group rentals, which will enable more earned income through retreats.
  • Along with the missional benefits of having a better teaching space, we estimate that the new Learning Centre and Hospitality Centre would increase our related earned revenue from these areas from $37,000 to over $250,000 per year (assuming 30% occupancy).

“The teaching we received from A Rocha has helped lay the theological foundation for our church to take practical steps toward caring for creation.”

NATHAN ELGERSMA, Lead Pastor of New Life Church, Abbotsford

Hazelmere Cottage Project

To purchase the adjacent 10 acre Hazelmere property and refurbish the 37 year-old 4,200 sq ft house for the internship program

More About Hazelmere Cottage
  • 2 acres is house and lawns, 8 acres is forest and wetlands habitat
  • 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms on main level. Some bedrooms will house bunk beds for multiple interns.
  • Excellent communal and kitchen space to comfortably house and feed 15 interns
  • Walk-out basement suite to house the staff family that coordinates the internship program
Reasons To Do It

Brooksdale’s internship program is tremendously transformational, but interest in summer internships regularly outstrips our capacity to provide living accommodations. We need more intern housing!

Because of The Campaign
  • The new Hazelmere house doubles Brooksdale’s intern capacity and vastly improves the quality of the interns’ living space.
  • Moving the interns and staff internship coordinators to Hazelmere frees their current housing to become short-term retreat space on-site at Brooksdale. This enlarges our Guest House from a 9-bed to a 24-bed retreat capacity. This increased capacity will expose more church groups to A Rocha, and also increase earned revenue from retreat rentals.
  • In addition, the purchase of the Hazelmere property also adds 8 acres of ecologically sensitive river valley to A Rocha`s conservation area, and provides access to another 10 acres of adjacent conservation-covenanted land further to the east.

“I know that I am not who I was at the beginning of May, and those who are closest to me can attest to it.

All in all, I’ve been blessed with a sense of wholeness that has re-connected me to creation, and has helped me recognize the sacredness of what I’d previously taken for granted. I’ve been blessed with comfort, beauty and hope.”

SANDRA DUMITRAS, Former Summer Intern

Brooksdale Site & Upgrades

In Feburary 2016, A Rocha received the $4.1m gift of Brooksdale. Because the buildings are 85 years old, some insulation, plumbing and minor renovations are needed to update the buildings to be suitable for use.

Reason To Do It
  • These updates are basic maintenance on old heritage buildings.
  • Some projects, like a new septic field, are necessary due to the age of the current equipment and plumbing, and the increased usage due to the number of visitors on site.
  • Other projects, like insulating the residential rooms in the coach house, are necessary for the comfort of interns and retreat guests, which provide earned revenue.
  • Other projects include small renovations to create sustainable living spaces for staff families so they can enjoy comfortable long-term accommodations. (Rental income from staff also generates earned revenue for A Rocha.)

“In an arena frequently marked by controversy and acrimony, A Rocha is cheerful, winsome, exuding gratitude.  A Rocha’s work is characterized by joy and humility – it is always local, personal, relational, hospitable.”


Why Care For Creation

Being in right-relationship with creation is a foundational part of the biblical redemption story. In Genesis we learn that we were created in God’s image for the very purpose of caring and keeping creation (Gen 1:26, 2:15).

Despite this foundational mandate, the Christian voice has historically been rather quiet when it comes to environmental issues. And yet, environmental degradation is contributing to many of today’s greatest social issues, from food security to human health to the mass extinction of species. Indeed, dealing with the realities of this issue will be one of the defining challenges for the next generation.

For the sake of the Gospel and for the well-being of people and the planet, Christians are called to respond with hope, ingenuity and practical action in these challenging times.

Now is the time to invest in equipping people of faith to work and witness within this arena.  It will be one of the greatest opportunities the next generation has to witness to God’s deep care for the world.

“We care for only what we love.
We love only what we know.
We truly know only what we experience.”


Be Part Of The Barn Raising


The Brooksdale Environmental Centre is doing a barn raiser! We need hundreds of supporters to join together to transform our 1930 heritage barn into a Conservation Learning Centre.

Maybe your contribution will put the new roof on our barn. Maybe it will be a window or another bucket of nails.

  • For info on giving by phone, cheque, monthly debit, stocks or an estate gift, click here.
  • Click here to give online now


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I have a non-donation related inquiry for Yvonne.

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I want to volunteer.


Come and take a tour of the Brooksdale Environmental Centre or attend on of our Events.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

MARGARET MEAD, Anthropologist