As a very young man, Ray Marzec dreamed of having a rare breeds’ farm. It seemed a long way off then and was only made possible by his vision, persistence and hard work. In 2002, Ray bought the site at Hogshaw to realise the dream of his big project, Green Dragon Rare Breeds Farm & Eco Centre.
Along with a passion for conservation of rare breed farm animals, Ray also has a keen interest in food, art, sustainable living and the natural world, and as his plan evolved, he sought to bring all these together. Ray’s dream of a rare breeds farm became the vision of a showcase – not just of conservation of endangered farm animals, but of good locally sourced food, heritage fruit and veg, renewable energy systems, waste prevention, and conservation of wildlife. He envisaged a place where people with similar passions could come together for education, enjoyment and well-being.
The Green Dragon Timeline
|1973||On February 15th in Belgrave Square, London, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) holds its first official meeting, with Joe Henson as chair. As an eighteen year old, Ray sees this reported on television and is inspired to open his own Rare Breed Farm one day.|
|1974||Ray buys a derelict chapel near his home town of Leighton Buzzard. This is the beginning of his long-term plan to fund his dream by developing property which he does whilst working full-time as graphic designer.|
|1995||In order to build the capital to buy a site for the farm, he decides on a career change and goes into property development full-time.|
|2002||Ray buys the site at 52-acre site at Hogshaw and starts converting three of the old timber barns on site into dwellings whilst living in a caravan for four years. He submits plans to Aylesbury Vale District Council for the Rare Breed Farm.|
|2008||Initial planting takes place, including heritage fruit trees to create the orchard and hedges of hazel and willow for windbreaks.|
|2010||After eight frustrating years of paperwork, planning is eventually granted and the once hybrid pig farm is about to witness huge change. The animal barn is built.|
|2011||Ray teamed up with Lesley Maddox and, with them both focussed on the same end-goal, the project to set up Green Dragon begins.|
|2012||The walled garden, greenhouse/classroom and potting shed are completed ready for school visits and workshops and to supply fresh fruit and veg.|
|2013||Building starts on the Eco Centre with the erection of the timber-frame that goes up very quickly during a dry and sunny summer. Construction students from Aylesbury college help out. Wild flowers are grown from seed and planted on the new nature trail with more fruiting hedging by Vale Countryside Volunteers to re-create habitats for wildlife.|
|2014||The renewable energy and waste water systems for the Eco Centre are put in place, including the biomass boiler and thermal store. The Pets’ Corner building goes up, followed by the opening of the Eco Centre in October with café, shop and events space. The bird survey begins.|
|2015||Groundworks on the farm are hindered by the very wet winter. However, miles of stock fencing later, the farm opens in March in time for the first lambing. The children’s outside play area is erected in time for the school summer holidays and the Play Barn opens in November. The wildflower meadow is seeded and our first school visits begin.|
|2016||The small pet enclosures are redesigned to include burrows. Interpretation signage goes up on the ‘Farm to Fork’ and Nature Trails. The collection of rare breeds grows and a programme of breeding enables a steady supply of home-reared meat for the cafés. The new Cattle Shed is built in time for the Winter.|
|2017||The Pets’ Corner building is extended to include exotic pets and barn owls. Reindeer calves arrive and, with the owls, form the beginnings of the Wildlife Zone display. The Pygmy Goat Walk-Through is created to enable visitors to get closer to the animals.|