BY AMY HILL, MARJORIE IMUS, and BILL IMUS
For over 30 years, founders Margie and Bill Imus have dedicated their lives to working, protecting, and nurturing Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve’s farmland, forests, meadows, and creeks. They have developed the property’s sprawling 65 acres as a fruitful Surry County gem, and now a working Outdoor Environmental Education Center. Former tobacco fields are planted with organic produce and flowers, which can be found in local restaurants in the area and are used for farm-to-table meals and workshops for the Preserve. The Imuses first grew a few vegetables for Winston-Salem’s Cumberland Cafe as early as 1987, where they were co-owners. During this time, Bill realized that there were no market farmers delivering to restaurants in town, inspiring him to leave the restaurant business, try his hand at farming, begin working outside, and the rest is history. After running the farm and supplying markets and restaurants for a few decades, in 2014, Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve officially became a nonprofit organization, and has been educating students and serving the community ever since, which has truly been a life’s journey for Bill and Margie.
Passionate naturalists, Margie and Bill firmly believe that students are able to better learn about nature and science outside of the classroom, and strive to share their love for the natural world among younger generations. By hosting field trips and visiting green spaces with public, private, and home-schooled students, Minglewood’s staff introduces children to lessons in environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture through science, reading, and the arts. Each lesson is designed with the goal in mind of instilling a newfound love of nature within each child who sets foot onto the Preserve or works within Minglewood’s green spaces.
Minglewood visits classrooms and greenways to help bring valuable lessons about nature closer to students and schools. Students are introduced to native flora and fauna, local history, farming, watershed studies, and much more. Students have the opportunity to learn by visiting a three-season organic farm, starting the seeds in the greenhouse to planting, or tending and harvesting. Visitors have the opportunity to view all aspects of a working market farm. Additional examples of lessons offered at the Preserve and on-campus green spaces are life cycles, habitats, pollinators, soil science, watersheds, and weather. Minglewood’s curriculum is thoughtfully planned and coordinated to align with the NC State Board of Education’s standard curriculum, to ensure that students can make the connections from traditional classroom education to hands-on outdoor learning.
In addition to field trips, Minglewood also hosts its annual Young Naturalist Camp, offering children between the ages of 6 and 12 five full Saturdays at the Preserve. With dates in June, July, and October, campers have the opportunity to hike the farm, taste the farm’s crops, learn about the region’s flora and fauna, and explore the pond and creek on the Preserve. The Young Naturalist Camp is affordable for families, costing only $55 per day, or a total of $275 for all five dates. With each date conveniently scheduled on a Saturday, transporting your campers to and from the farm won’t interfere with busy work schedules during the week. Minglewood also offers a few “pay-what-you-can” plans and scholarships. Spaces are limited and filling quickly, so don’t hesitate to register your children for the 2022 Young Naturalist Camp at www.eventbrite.com/o/minglewood-farm-and-nature-preserve-17188338999.
Aside from their deep love of all things nature, one of the most rewarding aspects of Margie and Bill’s decades of work on the farm is seeing children come alive while engaging in hands-on learning at the Preserve. Students are often encouraged to lead the lessons themselves by asking questions about what they discover on the hikes and tours, as well as inquiring about birds, various plants, and bugs they find along their tour of the farm. According to Margie and Bill, “Once children view nature as unique and valuable, they will protect it for the rest of their lives.”
Students aren’t the only ones who enjoy spending time at Minglewood Farm. In fact, Minglewood offers a plethora of activities for children and adults, from organized hikes, vegetable workshops, plant sales, and craft workshops. On April 9th and 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day, Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve will be hosting its Annual Plant Sale to kick off the spring season. To find out about the latest news and events taking place at the farm, visit www.minglewoodpreserve.org. Browse Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve’s Eventbrite page online to sign-up for all upcoming events.
Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve is located in Westfield, NC, at 238 Minglewood Road. To schedule an appointment at the farm or organize a field trip, call (336) 351-2945 or email [email protected].