Agritourism Talk Leads to Herb Farm, Butterfly House

Owner believes in serendipity while making moves to create a new herb farm and life in southwest Virginia.

| March/April 2012

In rural Southwest Virginia, Beagle Ridge Herb Farm & Flying Flowers is a magical place, and one that has been nurtured and grown by the passion of an environmental educator and her understanding husband.

On a cold winter day in 1992, Ellen Reynolds watched her husband Gregg walk into a blizzard, leaving her on the road with the realtor. They were looking at a remote piece of land near Wytheville, Virginia. The 72-acre tract was originally part of a hunting preserve, with portions serving as a corporate hunting retreat in the 1960s. Normally conservative in matters of purchases, the next words out of Gregg’s mouth, when he returned, astounded her.

“Do you have the checkbook with you?”

That event was the beginning of Ellen’s journey to a new home, a new career, and a new way of living. Over the next 10 years, the couple purchased additional acreage around the original tract, bringing the total to 160. They also made it their own retreat, building a home and adding gardens. “I’ve always done a little gardening, I found it therapeutic,” says Ellen. Little did she know that the therapeutic environment she was creating would soon have a greater mission.

“I truly believe in serendipity,” Ellen says. “Everything we have done with this property has seemed fated.” This proved true in the late 1990s, when Ellen saw a flier advertising a regional agritourism conference in Wytheville, their “second home.” Gregg and Ellen were living and working in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and commuting on weekends to their mountain getaway. She wasn’t exactly sure what agritourism was, but decided to investigate.

“I went to the conference, and they were talking about growing flowers, herbs, garlic, and selling them, and also having people visit the gardens. I went back to Winston-Salem and said to Gregg, ‘Let’s do an herb farm.’”

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