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Fall 2015 a publication of the Merck Forest and Farmland Center “Teaching, demonstrating & sustaining a working landscape”

In This Issue 1

Be.Brave Hike-A-Thon

2 Calendar of Upcoming Community Events


Recipe from the Lodge Did You Know?: MFFC Fun Facts

4 Education Update: Pilot Program Try This at Home: Autumn Chromatography

5 Clark’s Clearing Cabin Rehabilitation (cont.)

6 Opening Up the View: Timber Harvest at the Cabins

7 About Us & Membership

Hike-A-Thon at Merck By Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator This fall, Merck Forest will be the host site for a dynamic and empowering hike-athon. The all-day event on Saturday, October 3, 2015, was created by BE BRAVE, a group dedicated to informing, supporting and improving the lives of individuals affected by benign brain tumors and to drive research for a cure. BE.BRAVE was formed earlier this year by Riley Callen (age 13) and Sarah Shehadi (age 23) of Manchester, Vermont. Both of these young ladies have undergone multiple craniotomies during the last five years to remove benign brain tumors. When Riley and Sarah found out about their similarities, they also discovered they had their first and second craniotomies within six months of each other. After finding out about the other’s parallel journey, they decided to join forces and create a positive way to raise awareness about their disease. BE BRAVE (soon to be a non-profit) was established with the help of their family, friends, and the larger community.

Clark’s Clearing Cabin Rehabilitation

3270 Route 315, PO Box 86, Rupert, Vermont 05768 p. 802.394.7836

Hike-A-Thon 8 a.m to 2 p.m. Packet Pickup 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. Basket Bonanza, Food and Drinks, Live Music and much more! noon - 5 p.m. Basket Bonanza Winners announced 4:30 p.m.

Laura Callen, president of the organization stated, ““For me, BE BRAVE is mostly about empowering these two young ladies to take control over a situation that has truly been uncontrollable in their lives: when and whether their brain tumors will grow back. For them, it is about giving back and improving the lives of others who suffer from a similar diagnosis. We are hoping our contribution will make a difference...” The goal with the BE.BRAVE Hike-A-Thon at Merck Forest is to raise money for brain tumor awareness and research, and the associated risks related to the removal of tumors. All profits that are raised during the Hike-A-Thon will be split evenly between both Riley and Sarah’s choice research initiatives: Barrow Neurological Foundation for neurosurgery tumor and hemangioma research and Boston Children’s Hospital for pediatric brain tumor and vascular disease. We are excited to be a part of Riley and Sarah’s amazing story and truly inspiring endeavor. You are encouraged to check out the BE BRAVE website (, and sign-up to take part in the Hike-A-Thon. We hope that you will join us in October for a day of fun on the trails, music, good food, and more!

New Farm Manager


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Individuals and teams should feel free to start hiking anytime between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., but all activity must be completed by 2 p.m. There are over 30 miles of trails at MFFC and there are hikes for all levels! Teams should keep track of how long they hike so they can let Be.Brave and their sponsors know.

Sarah Shehadi (far right) and Riley Callen (right) have been working with family (including Hannah, Riley’s twin sister, pictured on left), friends, and the community to create BE BRAVE. The group will soon be a non-profit. Join BE BRAVE at Merck Forest this fall for a Hike-A-Thon, which will raise money for benign brain tumor research.

Upcoming Communit y Events


Hike-A-Thon Date: Saturday, October 3, 2015 Hike-a-thon: 8 a.m to 2 p.m.

Mushroom I.D. Workshop with Mycologist Sue Van Hook

Food, Music, Give-Away: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. The Be.Brave Hike-A-Thon is a hike held at Merck Forest to inform, support, and improve the lives of individuals affected by benign brain tumors and drive research for a cure. Join as a team (up to 10 individuals) or join as an individual. Set a hiking goal - between one and six hours - and get sponsors to support your efforts. Hike further than you ever thought you could - you will discover the power that comes from being brave! (See page 1 for more information).


Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, 7 p.m.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/(student), cash or check,tickets sold at door

Dates: Saturday, September 12, 2015 Times: 10 a.m. - 1 or 2 p.m. Cost: $30/person, $50/couple or pair

Times: 10 a.m. - noon


Join Sue Van Hook, local mycologist, for an informative mushroom walk, where you will learn about different mushroom species. During the latter half of the class, you will work with Sue to learn how to keyout (use guide books) to identify the species you saw on your walk. Please bring a bag lunch, water, notebook, good walking shoes, insect repellent and a hat. Minimum of ten people needed for class to run.

For the first time in several years, MFFC will host a contradance at the sap house. Fern Bradley will call and the Hubbard Hall Tune Jam Band will provide the music. Families and beginners are welcome. Please bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car at the end of the evening.

Fall Foliage: Kids’ Leaf Walk and Create a Leaf Bandana Dates: Saturday, October 3, 2015

Registration is necessary. Please call 802.394.7836 to sign up.

Registration is necessary. Please call 802.394.7836 to sign up.

Cost: $5/child, parent or guardian must be present In this fun fall activity parents and kids will take a short walk with Education Director Christine Hubbard to look at fall’s colorful leaves. Participants will collect some of autumn’s best art work (leaves!) to take back to the studio. You’ll use your assembled leaf collection to create a colorful, fall foliage inspired leaf bandana that you can then take home with you! This activity is for children ages 5 - 10 years old, and there are sixteen spaces in the class (plus guardians). Please wear old clothes or bring a smock as painting could be a bit messy.

Author Ron Krupp Speaks on New Book Dates: Saturday, November 7, 2015 Times: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Cost: TBD, membership discount applies Reservations are required due to limited seating. Call 802.394.7836

Fall Foliage: Guided Hike to the Newly Expanded Viewpoint Dates: Saturday, October 3, 2015 Times: 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Registration is necessary. Please call 802.394.7836 to sign up.

Cost: suggested $3/person, will be donated to Be.Brave Autumn at Merck Forest is a beautiful time to explore the forest and enjoy the great westward views. On this guided, three mile hike, we’ll go up to the newly restored vista at Viewpoint. We’ll explore the new patch cut, enjoy great views of the Adirondacks, and take in the best of fall’s foliage. This is a moderate hike, with some ups and downs (elevation change of 600’). Hikers, please come prepared: wear study shoes, layer your clothing, and bring water.

Join Vermont author and master gardener Ron Krupp for a presentation and question-and-answer session this fall. Krupp will be talking from his new book: The Woodchuck Returns to Gardening. The author writes of the stories and characters from the Green Mountains of Vermont, but they could have originated in any rural area where people have a tradition of working the land. He loves to weave humor, wit, and a good amount of heart throughout his works and share his passion for gardening.” Attendees will certainly glean information on food systems, gardening and more at this hearthside talk.

3 Holiday Wre ath-Making Workshop Date: Saturday, December 5, 2015 Time: 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Cost: $20/person/wreath, membership discount applies

Reservations are required due to limited

Join our annual wreath-making workshop. The small class provides participants with the materials to make a lovely holiday wreath. We also provide the ribbon, but feel free to bring your own ornaments to add onto your creation. Payment is due when you register.

space. Call 802.394.7836 To learn more about fall events, visit our website:

Did You Know?

Recipe from the Lodge

Compiled by Katie Connor, Customer Service Specialist

? Did you know? Ned’s

Place was conceived as a tribute to Ned Winpenny. He served on the Board of Trustees at Merck Forest for twelve years (1984-1996). Ned died unexpectedly from a heart condition, and in his memory, Ned’s Place was built.

Pork Chops Fried with Apples Ingredients:

? Did you know? The

- MFFC Pork Chops - salt and pepper, to taste - sweet herbs (sage or thyme), to taste - sliced, tart apples

Harwood Barn was built in 1852 by Joseph B. Harwood. It was the same year in which the railroad reached Rupert. The slate roof, which cost $10 per square of slate, came by train and was hauled uphill by horse and wagon.

Directions: Put the fresh chops in a cast iron pan with salt, pepper, and sage or thyme, if you like it, or any other sweet herb, to be scattered over, and fry them. If there is not enough fat to make plenty of gravy, add butter or drippings. When the chops are nicely done, having sliced the apples, fry them in the same dish, and when nicely browned put them over the chops or in a dish by themselves, as some may not like them, although the author, and probably most others, will be very fond of them. Use nice tart apples only. Chops of fresh pork, fried and seasoned this way, are splendid, if nicely browned, even without the apples. —Dr. A. W. Chase, 1890 We are happy that Vermont Country Sampler was open to sharing one of their recipes with us this season. The VCS is a free monthly newspaper distributed at hundreds of locations throughout Vermont and surrounding communities. It has been published since 1984. They often feature a variety of news items, as well as folk recipes, stories, poems, and more! We keep a stack of the monthly paper here at the Visitor Center. If you are interested, please take a copy next time you come by.

? Did you know the story behind Nenorod Cabin? This history

is written by John Mitchell, father of Wesley, for whom the cabin was dedicated: “When my children were growing up the T.V. was never hooked up, so [they watched] Disney videos from time to time, but no video games. Instead, I would read to them, and they would have drawing sessions as they would imagine what the characters and scenery [from the books] looked like and sketch them on their notepads. Their favorite stories were by C. S. Lewis, the Tales of Narnia, and J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. We loved hiking in the woods and mountains. Wesley also liked skiing, his sisters did not. Wesley wanted to own a sporting goods store named Nenorod. The word is elfin language from Tolkien and means Water Mountain, which is an acrostic of his name ‘Wesley Mitchell’. So when my son Wesley was killed his freshman year at Sewanee, his two sisters came up with the name ‘Nenorod’ for the cabin to honor him and his love for the outdoors.”

Time to Order Lamb!

This fall, pre-order lamb meat from our farm. The farm will send the lambs to market September through midOctober. Customers who pre-order will receive one lamb, in the various cuts of your choice. One lamb should yield about 20 lbs of meat, depending on your butchering preferences. This year, customers will have the option of having their lamb processed at either Rut’s Ridge Farm, LLC (Greenwich, NY, or Maple Ridge Meats (Benson, VT, will be a processing and handling fee

(cost dependent on where lamb is processed). Merck Forest asks for the handling fee as a deposit. After processing, we will inform you of the total charge, which can be paid upon pick-up (October -November). Please call the Visitor Center between now and September 30 to reserve your whole lamb. Forms will be available in the Visitor Center or at on the Farm Products page. Please note, we are happy to help you fill out the form.


Pilot Program: Collaborative Education

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. The brilliant green leaves of summer are beginning to give way to the colorful palette of autumn. Children are returning to another school year as we say goodbye to summer. Here at Merck, we’re also anticipating the beginning of this new school year, as we get ready to launch a new pilot program: the Merck Forest and Farmland Center / Next Generation Science Standards School Partnership Program, or MFFC/NGSS School Partnership Program. With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards by the State of Vermont in June 2013, schools and teachers are shifting their classroom instruction to reflect the new standards, or expectations for student learning. After talking and working with several local schools: The Dorset School, Sunderland Elementary School, and Mettawee Community School, Merck has developed a multi-day program to help teachers meet the new standards. The developing program will focus on the 5th grade curriculum this fall, and will incorporate 6th grade in spring, 2016. Students will come to Merck for several field experiences

By Christine Ferris-Hubbard, Education Director

focusing on decomposition, biodiversity, and non-native and invasive species, using the various farm and forest ecosystems found at Merck. In addition, Merck staff will also be visiting students in their classrooms to prepare them for some of their experiences on the farm and in the forest. Students will have the opportunity to explore with a hands-on approach. They will be involved in a variety of scientific methods: making observations, collecting and analyzing data, and critiquing their discoveries. In addition,they will be constructing models to show decomposition, as well as mapping the various ecosystems from a strategic vantage points on the farm. A final culminating Expo will allow students to showcase their work. We are looking forward to beginning this collaborative effort between Merck and area schools, helping to bring a high-quality science experience to local students.

“Try this at home” is a new addition to the Ridgeline, and it will feature fun, nature-oriented activities for you to do.

Autumn Chromatography What Colors Are in Those Leaves?

Try this at home!

Chromatography comes from Greek, meaning “color” (chroma) and “to write” (graph). You can “color” a strip of paper as a plant’s pigments travel up the paper. Chlorophyll, which converts the sun’s energy into food for the plant through the process of photosynthesis, also gives leaves their green color. As trees stop producing chlorophyll in autumn, hidden colors emerge. You can “pull” some of these colors out of green leaves conducting your own chromatography experiment. Children should work with adult supervision!

Gather these items:

* Green leaves, e.g. sugar maple leaves * Glass container, such as a sturdy drinking glass or canning jar * Scissors * 2 Tbsp of either rubbing alcohol OR nail polish remover (acetone) * Pencil

* Stapler * Strip of blotting paper such as watercolor paper, coffee filters, or super absorbent paper towels * Sturdy wooden spoon or dowel

Photo by M. Carll

Follow these directions to make a concentrated (and colorful!) liquid that pigment from leaves. Collect some leaves of your choice, and cut them up with scissors into pieces as small as you can. Place them in the bottom of the glass container. Add the liquid. Using the wooden spoon or dowel, mash the leaves until the liquid turns a dark color and the leaves are broken apart. Staple the strip of paper around the pencil, and position it so that a ½ inch of the paper is in the liquid. Leave for at least one hour.

The liquid, along with the plant’s pigments, will be drawn up the paper, forming a chromatograph. The longer you leave the paper in the liquid, the more colors may appear. What colors do you see? What colors traveled up your paper? Try this with different plants, as well as flower petals. Is the chromatograph showing the same colors as the flower? Explore and see!

The Rehabilitation of Clark’s Clearing Cabin (cont. from back cover)


(beginning on page 8)...mountain initially intending to raze the cabin. With some additional thought, it occurred to us that the junior high students from Salem, New York would learn much more about carpentry and construction if we instead rehabilitated the cabin. Thereupon it was decided to repurpose the building as a trailside lean-to. We collected four appropriate-sized spruce logs from the patch cut at the Viewpoint Cabin (see page 6), brought them to Clark’s Clearing, and the crew (using draw-shaver, pry-bars and hammers) removed the bark from the logs in advance of rebuilding the roof. The project will run into the fall with further assistances from two Long Trail School (Dorset, Vt.) students, and we hope to rededicate the structure with some of our old and new friends when it is ready. It’s nice to think, I had the opportunity to “pay it forward” so some future skiers or hikers will be able to take shelter at Clark’s Clearing as my wife Jean and I did so many years ago. Ellie (right) grazes while Ken’s son John reaches up to pet Sophie, Ellie’s foal. Daisy is grazing on the far left.

- Tom Ward

Dear Merck, We were so excited to hear that Clark’s Clearing will be getting a makeover. During the Spring of 1997, eighteen years ago, the two of us (young fiancees) hiked up to the small cabin for one night to write our wedding vows in preparation for our June wedding. There is a very special, peaceful magic at Clark’s Clearing in that quaint little cabin. We wrote about love and commitment, about raising someday-children and sticking up for each other always. A few years ago, we brought our children—now 16 and 12 —up to the cabin, and found that it was no longer fit for humans, but rather a cozy home for porcupines. No matter —it was still beautiful and held the same comfort as it did the night we squeezed into the skinny wooden bunkbed together, huddled in our shared sleeping bag, promising to always be together. We will never forget the morning we woke up there, the sun sparkling through the trees, granting us well wishes for a long marriage. We took some black and white photos of us leaning against the cabin before we left. It is a memory neither of us will ever forget. If the journal to the cabin still exists somewhere, our little message of love will surely be in it. Thank you for giving Clark’s Clearing some much needed TLC. We cannot wait to return and renew our vows! With love, Jed and Mandy Mayer, West Rupert, VT

Photos by T. Ward and C. Hubbard

The rehabilitation of Clark’s Clearing Cabin has been the focus of Salem junior high students this summer. The small group of students spent Wednesdays with Ethan, Chris, and Tom, learned about carpentry, and they started the work on the previously defunct cabin.


Panoramic shot of the patch cut at Ridge Cabin

Photo by E. Crumley

Opening Up the View: Timber Harvest at the Cabins By Ethan Crumley, Forester Changing seasons bring changing sounds and sights in the forest. This past spring the roar of chainsaws could be heard echoing through the mountains at Merck Forest, as a new sight was being unveiled: the opening of the viewsheds at Viewpoint and Ridge cabins. There are several reasons why we decided to pursue this endeavor, and in order to open the vistas, we hired a local, professional logger to harvest the two patch cuts. One of reasons we harvest wood from around the cabins is because of the views. The views are incredible as you hike to the cabins and the surrounding landscape unfolds before your eyes. Now at Viewpoint Cabin you can see Antone Mountain front and center. Looking further south you will see the three peaks of Shatterack Mountain. Looking east, on the other side of Antone, the hills of Washington County in New York can be seen rippling towards the distant Adirondacks. The view from Ridge Cabin is also impressive. From east to west the view includes Spruce Peak, Bear Mountain (the highest mountain in view at 3,301 ft.), and Shatterack Mtn. At the furthest extent of the view to the west, Antone Mountain once again makes an appearance. Cabin users may be awed when they see the changes made. A second benefit of these harvests is firewood. The two patch cuts together resulted in a season’s worth of firewood (about 60 cords) for Merck. Sustainable wood heat is vital to our organization as we use it for maple syrup production, lodging, the maintenance building, and the Visitor Center.

Not only will these harvests benefit us in visual and material ways, but they will also promote biodiversity. Foresters refer to young forests growing after a disturbance as being early successional. In the decade following our harvest we should expect to see sun loving tree species filling the available growing space. The list of early successional (also known as shade intolerant) tree species includes black cherry, pin cherry, white birch, and aspen. These species are often not present in late successional forests where shade loving trees, such as sugar maple and beech, thrive. Early successional shrubs, such as Blackberries and Raspberries, can also be expected to be growing on these sites. While the thick berry bushes and saplings may not be pleasant to walk through for several years, they will provide both cover and food for a list of species that includes deer, bear, rabbits, song birds, and grouse. The wildlife has already begun to enjoy the patch cuts: I flushed a grouse while walking through several weeks ago! And, for those of you that might be worried about the negative impacts of human disturbance on the land, the northern hardwood forests are quite resilient. They generally are able to quickly regenerate from both natural and man-made disturbances. In fact, I have already seen some seedlings sprouting this summer! These harvests will provide multiple positive benefits, both to humans and the environment. The mountain views, warmth of the fires, and the sweetness of the maple syrup will be enjoyed by many. At the end of the day it is also satisfying to know that our activities in the forest will also contribute to the biodiversity of both plant and animal communities.

Before and after images of the clearing at Viewpoint Cabin

Photo by A. Lamp

Photo by T. Ward

About Us

Member benefits include: 20% discount on cabin rentals and camping 10% discount on Merck’s Certified Organic Maple Syrup 10% discount on select Visitor Center merchandise 10% discount on workshops Copies of our seasonal newsletter, the RidgeLine

Merck Forest and Farmland Center is an educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to teach and demonstrate the benefits of innovative, sustainable management of forest and farmland. We also offer recreational opportunities for individuals and families, encouraging people to become good stewards of the land. Donations are appreciated and members are encouraged. Board of Trustees

Keld Alstrup, Treasurer/Secretary Axel Blomberg Jean Ceglowski Phil Chapman Austin Chinn, President Jeromy Gardner George Hatch, Vice President Ann Jackson Margaret Mertz Bruce Putnam Phil Warren Advisory Council

Kathleen Achor Judy Buechner Donald Campbell Sue Ceglowski Ed Cotter Bob Gasperetti Bambi Hatch Dick Hittle

Anne Houser Jon Mathewson John Pless Liz Putnam Bob Taggert Patty Winpenny Corinna Wildman


Darla Belevich, Visitor Center Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator Katie Connor, Visitor Center Engagement Ethan Crumley, Forester Christine Ferris-Hubbard, Education Director Kathryn Lawrence, Assistant to the Director Jonathan Kilpatrick, Farm Manager Tom Ward, Executive Director RidgeLine layout, illustrations, and graphic design by Melissa Carll

Jonathan Kilpatrick—Farm Manager Jonathan comes to Merck from nearby Washington County, N.Y. He caught the farming bug at an early age when his family moved to New York. He raised various species of livestock in his younger years and worked on the family’s mixed vegetable farm. After spending a summer managing the farm for his brother, Jonathan realized that farming and clean food were something that he was passionate about, and he wanted to see it perpetuated in his generation and those to come. He interned and subsequently apprenticed at Polyface Farms with the Salatin family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He was also able to intern with grazing expert Ian Gerrish in Texas. Jonathan is passionate about connecting farmers and consumers, holistic management, building soil through proper grazing management, sustainable forestry, and seeing new farm enterprises start and succeed. Jonathan especially enjoys educating and seeing others learn and grow in their farming skills and knowledge. When not busy farming, Jonathan can often be found enjoying God’s creation, whether that is hunting, fishing, or playing a mean game of volleyball. He also cherishes any time he gets to play the piano or read.

Read our


Membership at Merck: Join or Renew Today! Please, help us continue to serve our mission of teaching and demonstrating the benefits of innovative, sustainable management of forest and farmland. As a member, you support our educational programs and maintenance of over 3,100 acres of land and 30 miles of trails. Thank you for your help!



Please fill out and mail to: Merck Forest & Farmland Center PO Box 86, Ruper t, V T 05 768

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PO Box 86, Rupert, Vermont 05768

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The Rehabilitation of Clark’s Clearing Cabin By Tom Ward, Executive Director Just about 25 years ago, my wife Jean and I spent a magical weekend in the cabin at Clark’s Clearing. It was about -25 degrees F on a dead calm February Friday evening as we stopped along the Old Town Road pasture to look west to a pale, but nonetheless gorgeous winter sunset. The snow was so deep, our skis sounded like they were running atop a kettle drum—you could actually hear reverberations in the snowpack. We hauled ourselves and our packs up Old Town Road and veered onto Antone Road at the top. Waiting for us in the clearing was a frigid cabin with a mercifully dry supply of firewood for the stove. In short order, the cabin was so warm we had to damp the fire down and open the door to reset the thermal balance. Skiing that weekend was pure joy with frigid air and perfect trails to be traced. That cabin in the clearing where we stayed was created through the hard work of two successive years of Student Conservation Association (SCA) student volunteers and their crew leaders. It seems like an anachronism to note the crew was made entirely of girls from the SCA. Former Executive Director, Duncan Campbell, tells me the cabin design came from the SCA, and the crew arrived in the summer of 1972, Duncan’s first at Merck. The crew erected the cabin that first year and returned in the summer of 1973 to build the fieldstone chimney that kept Jean and

The Student Conservation Association crew from 1972, made up entirely of young women, that constructed the Clark’s Clearing Cabin. Duncan Campbell (Merck’s executive at the time) stands on the far right of the photo. The other gentleman was one of the crew leaders.

me warm years later. The cabin was used for forty years until the chimney footings eroded and allowed the chimney to sag, taking the cabin with it. This year another crew of eager young people led by Ethan Crumley (forester), Christine Ferris-Hubbard (education director), and Tom Ward (executive director), went back up the... (continued on page 5)

2015 Fall Ridgeline  

Merck Forest & Farmland Quarterly Newsletter

2015 Fall Ridgeline  

Merck Forest & Farmland Quarterly Newsletter