WESTFIELD — Two local nature enthusiasts have set out to make a difference in the lives of local children and nature enthusiasts across the region, through the land.
Bill and Margie Imus own Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve in Westfield. The farm is a non-profit outdoor learning center.
“Our mission is to educate students and surrounding communities about sustainable food production,” said Margie Imus.
For years, the Imus’ made their living growing vegetables, flowers and other goods that were distributed to local restaurants throughout Surry, Stokes and Forsyth counties.
Bill Imus opened Cumberland Cafe in Winston-Salem in 1987 as owner and chef he grew to become frustrated with the difficulties of getting fresh produce for his restaurant.
“At the time specialty lettuces were just becoming popular and the only ones available were being brought in from California,” said Imus.
In order to get the freshest produce, Imus began growing his own behind his restaurant. It was then that he was able to serve salads in his restaurant with lettuce that had been picked on the same day it was served.
“Restaurants importing lettuce could not compete with that freshness,” added Imus.
That’s when Imus stated he had discovered a niche for fresh, specialty produce in the region.
Imus then began planting produce on his farm and selling that produce to other restaurants. “I would pick the produce, load it up, and deliver it the same day it had been picked,” said Imus. “People couldn’t get enough.”
Quickly, the Imus’ knew they had to share their vast knowledge of agriculture with others. “We both had that one person who shared their knowledge with us that left a lasting impression,” said Imus’, a legacy she wanted to pass-on.
For three years, Minglewood Farm has been a 501-C non-profit organization. The farm’s biggest student base comes through a partnership with surrounding school systems.
The farm offers an interactive approach when dealing with school groups in an attempt to have the students open up their senses by exploring their surroundings. “We find that students being out here and just walking around will become curious and start asking questions.”
“We can teach history, geology, even weather,” said Imus. “We can base our lessons around the teachers curriculum or around what the students decide they want to learn about.”
“These kids don’t have a relationship with nature,” Bill said of students who have visited the farm with school groups. “If you don’t have a relationship with nature, you don’t know to protect it and that’s what I want to teach.”
“We want to show that you don’t need a farm to have sustainable living,” added Margie.
Bill explained that he did not graduate from college. “It just wasn’t for me.” he added. “I believe in experience, everywhere you go, every job you have you gain experience.”
“It’s through those experiences that you become who you are and find out what your purpose is,” stated Imus.
The Imus’ spend a majority of their spare time while not working on the farm taking classes on how to better teach each student that visits the farm. “We spend so much time going to and from classes, we really need someone to help while we are away.” added Imus.
“We are growing which is great, but we can’t keep up,” said Margie.
Imus explained that they also host public events through out the year as well. The next event will be their 3rd Annual Plant Sale. The sale will take place on Saturday, April 22 starting at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, April 23 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We will also be celebrating Earth Day all weekend with hikes in the forest and the opportunity to make your own jewelry from nature,” said Margie.
Hikes will leave on the hour from the greenhouse, the last one will leave at 3 p.m. each day.
A great and unique variety of vegetable, flower and herb plants will be available for sale, according to Imus.
Reach Eva Winemiller at (336) 415-4739 or on Twitter @ThePilotNC