Merck Forest and Farmland Center (MFFC) is a nonprofit educational organization on a mission to inspire curiosity, love and responsibility toward our natural and working lands.
A century and a half ago, most of Vermont’s forests were open fields, including the farmsteads in Rupert which would become Merck Forest & Farmland. The remaining forests were managed as short-term woodlots, and decades-old agricultural practices were slowly degrading soil fertility, and harming natural resources and wildlife populations.
Acres Sustainably Managed
George Merck began acquiring land parcels in the 1940s to establish a private preserve for his family’s recreation. His interest in arboriculture and professional forest management led him to establish the Vermont Forest and Farmland Foundation in 1952 — one of the first land management experiments in the United States.
Over and above recreational opportunities, sustainable forest management provides many benefits:
Tall, straight-stemmed trees are valuable as timber, and even trees unsuitable for lumber provide a local, renewable fuel source.
An organic alternative to commercially produced sweeteners, sap is harvested and boiled into delicious maple syrup.
Well managed forests remove impurities from water, recharge aquifers, and store enormous amounts of carbon.
Forestry operations enhance habitat and forage opportunities, improving biodiversity and the stability of wildlife populations.
The forest directly generates income through the sale of saw timber, cordwood, maple syrup and lease payments.
The farm is both a working landscape and a field classroom for school groups.
Our farm staff and apprentices use low-impact, ecologically-sensitive practices in order to integrate the farm with the natural environment.
Animal Management Methods and Purpose
MFFC raises a variety of animals—draft horses, chickens, sheep, and pigs—for the farm-based education programs, and for market purposes.
All of the animals are pastured; the farm employs management intensive grazing (MIG), a form of grazing that allows the animals to forage in pasture and move to new grazing grounds several times a week. MIG increases the quality of the pastures while providing the most nutritious feed for the animals.