Over the last few months, Merck staff members have been visiting other farms and education centers to tour around their sites and meet with program staff. By making these efforts, we hope to identify different aspects of their educational and agricultural programs that could help inform our work and perhaps provide a little inspiration. The most wonderful part of visiting places like Stone Barns Center (Pocantico Hills, New York) or Cerridwen Farm of Green Mountain College, is uncovering what we have in common while also recognizing what makes Merck uniquely different.
All three organizations strive to strengthen local food systems, work with natural systems rather than against them, and we invite others in to learn and be renewed by our landscapes. While the most obvious things that set Merck apart is our 3,100 acres of managed forest, 30+ miles of trails and roads and rustic cabin rentals, I think the most compelling difference is the visible history of land use that spreads throughout our hillsides. Whether you’re taking in the views from the farm or atop Mt. Antone, examining the change in forest structure as you move up and over ridges, or hiking alongside aged stone walls, there are stories to piece together. These stories speak of our past influences on the land, and provide a powerful context for us as we continue sustaining the land into the future.