by Ellen Reynolds
For years I have felt my life has been a journey of happy events all leading us to Southwest Virginia. After living all over the world as I was growing up, it seemed right to make this beautiful part of the world our permanent home. My husband, Gregg, found what we considered a small piece of heaven in 1992, and ever since the day we bought it these ‘happy accidents’ have followed us on our journey. I believe in Serendipity — which loosely defined, means a happy accident or pleasant surprise, finding something good or useful without looking for it. Along the way we have met so many wonderful people who have made our journey memorable, and we know our original decision to start Beagle Ridge was meant to be.
Beagle Ridge is south of Wytheville, and as many of our visitors comment “you are in the middle of nowhere”. Yes, we are, nestled at the base of Lick Mountain, at an elevation of 2,600 at the end of a 3.5 mile gravel road. This 160 acre paradise backs up to an 8,500 acre wilderness area made up of the Wytheville Watershed and The Big Survey Wildlife Management Area. Since opening to the public 11 years ago, we have now hosted visitors from 48 states and 4 foreign countries. Visitors can enjoy the 2-acre herb and perennial gardens, 4.5 miles of hiking trails and Southwest Virginia’s only walk through butterfly house, Flying Flowers. All housed here at Beagle Ridge Environmental Education Center, which provides a wide variety of programming.
After building what would be our weekend home on the property, we realized this was meant to be home. I attended an agritourism meeting with the Tourism industry, we made a trip to herb farms in Washington State, we knew our purpose and we haven’t turned back. Although we lived three hours from Beagle Ridge, we opened to the public in 2001 and came down on weekends to build our dream. Along the way, every time we needed something it seemed there was someone to help us, answer questions or guide us on this journey. We were lucky to finally move here full time in 2010 and now we aren’t limited by our time here. Our organic gardens have been visited by 32 species of butterflies and moths and the next step was to net the whole garden. Well Gregg being the realist, decided on a smaller, more manageable facility and we opened Flying Flowers, Southwest Virginia’s only walk through Native Butterfly House in 2010.
This summer, Lick Mountain Excursions was ‘born’ at Beagle Ridge. Our trails traverse a wide variety of terrain, from meadow to rock cliffs and down to wetlands and the pond. We now can provide a 6 man vehicle to allow some of our visitors the opportunity to enjoy these views and capture on film the beauty of a fawn or a panoramic view of this beautiful region. Enjoy the views from the top of Buzzard’s Roost, down to Hemlock Cove, our pond which is home to blue heron, king fishers and lots of their favorite fish. Along the way, learn the history of Mule Hell and Horse Heaven and the pivotal part Wytheville played during the Civil War. History blends seamlessly with natural history in many parts of our region.
In August we will be closed as we break ground on a new building. The ‘barn’ will allow us to expand our season which presently is Thursday – Sunday from May- October. For more information check out our scheduled events at the website beagleridgeherbfarm.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the last 20 years the natural world has become a very important component of my life and it seems the more I learn the greater the need I feel to share. This journey has opened my eyes to the beauty that nature can offer and a peace these wide open spaces create. I hope you will come visit and see why we have made beautiful Southwest Virginia home.
Ellen Reynolds | Beagle Ridge Herb Farm
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