Image courtesy of Ellen Reynolds.
North Platte, Nebraska: Beagle Ridge Herb Farm & Environmental Education Center has been recognized as a Sustainable Monarch Reserve. Sustainable Monarch is working with partners to establish a network of sites specifically managed for butterflies from Mexico to Canada that will support the Monarch migration and benefit local communities through economic incentives. Beagle Ridge, located outside of Wytheville, Virginia, has created a beautiful formal garden to support pollinators and a thriving medicinal herb business. The company delivers educational programs across the southeast and at schools in the region and has classes about gardening and using plants for adults at the farm. Open to the public seasonally or by appointment the site hosts native plant sales and workdays that promote native plants in Southwest Virginia. A special activity includes collaborating with the Town of Wytheville to place native wildflowers in planters across the community with plans to make a pollinator trail where people can learn about caterpillars and the butterflies they become. In addition to open air gardens, the property boasts a native butterfly enclosure, Flying Flowers, featuring combination plantings of local and introduced flowers butterflies prefer.
“I first visited Beagle Ridge back in 2015,” said Marcus Gray Executive Director of Sustainable Monarch, “The connection their Flying Flowers exhibit makes between plants appropriate for the region and resident butterflies is something more butterfly houses should do. Many people are simply unaware of the species gracing their own gardens.”
Started in 2001, the founder Ellen Reynolds has documented 32 different kinds of butterflies on their 210-acre property. There is a calendar of scheduled events from April until December spanning a variety of topics from pollinator gardening and Butterfly Awareness Day to an overview of essential oils and a winter market open house. Learning the benefits of various herbs goes a long way to instilling a deeper connection with the natural world around us. Gardening is building a relationship, in a controlled way, that serves to create a sense of place and belonging to the environment where people find themselves. Every aspect of our health from the water we use to cook with, to the soil our food is grown in has an influence. Reminding people of their interdependence on natural resources for their livelihoods and well-being is more important now than ever. Businesses that highlight the value of natural products are critical to maintaining wild spaces on the landscape. Beagle Ridge will be taking their support of butterfly stewardship farther by donating a portion of their pollinator plant sales to Sustainable Monarch. The partnership will increase habitat available for monarchs and spread the joy of butterflies.
“It is so rewarding to receive accolades from the wider butterfly conservation community for our work. Here in the immediate vicinity, the tourism department is promoting a scavenger hunt for pollinator trivia at multiple businesses featuring plants and signage from our office across town. Participants will be entered into drawings for prizes. It will be a great way to draw attention to the needs of bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and people.”
-Ellen Reynolds, Director, Beagle Ridge Herb Farm & Environmental Education Center
When the garden is open, it follows state and federal guidelines related to social distancing and sanitation. If you would like to see what Beagle Ridge Herb Farm & Environmental Education Center is all about and support their work, visit their page for more details, updates and directions to the site.
Sustainable Monarch is a not-for-profit organization which works to protect the native plants butterflies need and promote economic development through milkweed-based products and activities. We are partnering with other organizations to encourage sound stewardship of natural resources and establish a network of reserves managed specifically to support monarch breeding and migration. Sustainable Monarch’s mission is to fuel the monarch migration by creating novel solutions that benefit local communities.