About Us

vermont children outdoor learning

Our Mission

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.

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Acres Sustainably Managed

A century ago, most of the forests we see today in Vermont were open fields, including the farms which would eventually become Merck Forest & Farmland Center.

Farm production reached its peak in the area around 1870, when about 75% of the arable land was kept open for agricultural fields or pasture.

At the turn of the twentieth century, farming was rapidly declining and many of the fields were reclaimed by the forest.

Our Practices

Our Practices

Forest Management

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.

 

Benefits:

Over and above recreational opportunities, sustainable forest management provides many benefits:

Wood

Tall, straight-stemmed trees are valuable as  timber, and even trees unsuitable for lumber provide a local, renewable fuel source.

Maple Syrup

An organic alternative to commercially produced sweeteners, sap is harvested and boiled into delicious maple syrup.

Filtration

Well managed forests remove impurities from water, recharge aquifers, and store enormous amounts of carbon.

Wildlife

Forestry operations  enhance habitat and forage opportunities, improving  biodiversity and the stability of wildlife populations.

Income

The forest directly generates income through the sale of saw timber, cordwood, maple syrup and lease payments.

Farm Management

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; we employ a technique called management intensive grazing (MIG), by which the animals forage in pasture and move to new grazing grounds several times a week. MIG improves the quality of pasture soils while providing the most nutritious feed for the animals.

Healthy animal mangement
animal products vermont

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.

Healthy animal mangement