Page 1


In This Issue 1 MFFC Introduces Mushroom Packaging On the Watch for the EAB

2 Upcoming Community Events and Sheep Dog Trials


Unplugged at MFFC

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

Mushroom Packaging A Note From the Director By Tom Ward, Executive Director Many of you are aware that we are in the process of making our maple syrup packaging and shipping more sustainable. Last year, we moved away from plastic containers for our organic maple syrup and are now using glass containers. The next step was to find a more sustainable shipping product than even the recyclable foam peanuts. Over the past few years, we have cultivated a relationship with Ecovative Design, LLC, of Green Island, N.Y. The company designs Mushroom ® Packaging, which

Ellie and Daisy Update


is made from agricultural waste material infused with fungal mycelium (root-like structure). We are very close to finalizing the design specifics of a sustainable, highperforming, molded shipping container manufactured by Ecovative and designed to fit our glass syrup bottles. The result of this collaboration between MFFC and Ecovative will be the first use of Mushroom ® Packaging in the Maple Industry, and it will lead to our organic syrup product being stored in a recyclable container and shipped in stable organic packaging,... (continued on page 6)

Human Animal

On the Watch for the Emerald Ash Borer

What’s New at the Visitor Center

By Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator

5 Recipe from the Lodge: Blueberry Coffee Cake You-Pick Berries, How to Tell What’s Ripe

6 “Mushroom” and “EAB” continued


About Us & Membership


New Faces at Merck Forest

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

What’s iridescent green, nearly 3/8ths of an inch long, a native of eastern Asia, and currently causing problems for the ash trees of the United States? If you guessed the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), you are correct! The Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB, as it is sometimes nicknamed) is an invasive pest that was inadvertently introduced to the United States and Canada just over a decade ago, possibly transported in wooden containers that came from Asia. The insect preys on ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), a common type of hardwood species used in making furniture and baseball bats and as a food source for cardinals, finches and other woodland species. Since the EAB entered the North American ecosystem, it has destroyed approximately 50 million ash trees between Minnesota, Arkansas, Virginia, and Maine

Figure 1: The Emerald Ash Borer. Image is not to scale. Image from

(see Figure 2). Currently, Vermont is the only state in the northeast that claims to not have the Emerald Ash Borer within its boundaries, but neighboring New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Quebec have declared sightings and the ill effects of the insect, and one wonders when the EAB may appear in the Green Mountain State. With nearly 160 million ash trees in Vermont [1], the invasive pest could cause problems for timber harvests, sawmills, and others that rely on the ash tree for commercial reasons. The environment could certainly see negative ramifications: “The loss of ash from an ecosystem can result in increased numbers of invasive plants, changes in soil nutrients, and effects on species that feed on ash.”[2]. However, the state is actively preparing for the Emerald Ash Borer. Programs exist statewide to watch for and hopefully mitigate the species’ arrival. Forest Pest First Detector is one such program (continued page 6)... Figure 2: Image of an ash tree after it was attacked by emerald ash borers. The insect eats the ash tree’s cambium (the layer just under the bark which transports nutrients through the tree). Essentially, the EAB will eat around the circumference of the ash and girdle it, eventually killing the tree. Image from:

Upcoming Community Events

2 Wagon Rides


Times: 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon Dates: now - June 27, 2015, Saturdays only , S pr in g r July 4 - October 31, 2015, Tuesdays e m m Su and Saturdays & Fall Warm weather days just beg you to go exploring. This spring, summer, and fall, we have a new way for you to see Merck Forest and Farmland Center: take a wagon ride. Our wagonette can seat up to six people, and it will travel a 45-minute loop through the forest and around the farm. Reservations are required for the wagon. Please call at least 24 hours in advance if you would like to book.

Snake Mountain Bluegrass The Connor Sisters

Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 5 p.m., Cost: free-will donation

What’s better than spending a summer evening eating a picnic dinner, listening to a local band play bluegrass, and taking in the views at Merck Forest? Join us again this summer for a concert on the sap house lawn. Bring your own chairs and picnic supper and enjoy!

Don’t know what to do with all those garden flats in your shed? MFFC would be grateful for any donations of trays. Our berry pickers would appreciate it too!

If you have

extras, please donate them at the Visitor Center.

You-Pick: Raspberries, Blueberries and Blackberries 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., daily, starting in July, Cost: $3.50/lbs. Bring your own containers or stop by the Visitor Center for a container

The berry patches just keep expanding. This year, the farm will still have delicious raspberries and blueberries for you to pick, and we have added fall-bearing raspberries and blackberries as well. Bring up a pail, pick away, and pay at the Visitor Center before 4 p.m.


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

Cost: $10/adult, $5/child (age 12 and under), tickets sold at door

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 are welcome. Please bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car at the end of the evening.

Sheep Dog Trials and Farm Festival Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, 2015, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tickets sold at gate: $5/adult, $3/ages 4 - 12, under age 4 FREE

Photos by Tom Remp

Volunteers are always needed! If you are interested in volunteering for this event, please contact or call 802.394.7836.

3 Visits Merck Forest By Lisa Kelly, Unplugged Leader

Unplugged is an adventure based program designed to cultivate confidence, communication, and leadership by doing different activities. Our goal is to inspire girls to disconnect from technology and build friendships, take risks, and find joy in a variety of challenging activities.

“Our weekend overnight at Merck was so fun. It was great to get out in nature and get to know other girls better”.

The group is made up of girls from seven schools from our surrounding community. From September through June, we participate in activities that include, but are not limited to: rock climbing, kayaking, cooking, dancing, cross country skiing. On the weekends of April 25th and May 2nd, we had girls between the ages of 10-13 go on an overnight adventure at Merck Forest. A trip the girls kind of stayed to themselves, but by the end we total of 26 girls went on a 2.5 mile hike to were all so comfortable with Dunc’s Cabin to camp overnight. The hike in each other. None of that would’ve was beautiful. During the weekend, the girls happened if we were all distracted enjoyed the natural environment by exploring by our phones and computers. We the wilderness, cooking over a campfire, team connected in a more real way.” building activities, and group talks. They learned how to purify water, build campfires, and about Leave No Trace. The stars were out as we took an adventure in the dark up to the open field at the Glen shelter. Girls slept in the cabin and stayed up late telling stories. Part of the group enjoyed the sounds of the river as they slept out “It was a neat feeling to in a tent near the cabin. In the morning we ate hike out into the forest with a delicious pancake breakfast with Merck’s own everything I needed for an maple syrup. One of the groups got to meet the overnight on my back. We five-week-old lamb and the pig (Peggy Sue) on the had so much fun. My favorite hike out. memory was sitting with “Our overnight at Merck was so great. At the beginning of the

Merck Forest has so much to offer and we look forward to having another adventure there next year!

other girls on the back deck of the cabin chatting and

Top: Unplugged group on their hike out to Dunc’s Cabin. Bottom: The girls shared a good time roasting marshmallows around the campfire at Dunc’s.

laughing.” – Sage Lalor

To learn more about Unplugged, visit their website:

Ellie and Daisy Update You may remember that last year we found a new home for our draft horse team, Ellie and Daisy. The Suffolk Punch horses had lived at Merck Forest for nearly twelve years. However, Daisy contracted Lyme Disease, and we also discovered she had Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM), a genetic disease that will often affect draft horses. The latter disease made Daisy unable to digest grains effectively, and when she was exerted (pulling wagons, plowing, etc.), damage to her muscle tissue occurred. Fortunately, former executive director, Ken Smith, was able to retire the team at his farm in central New York.

Ellie (right) grazes while Ken’s son John reaches up to pet Sophie, Ellie’s foal. Daisy is grazing on the far left.

Recently, Ken sent us a picture of Daisy and Ellie. Daisy seems to be doing well, considering her medical issues, and Ellie, the healthier of the pair, just foaled this spring. Her filly, Sophie, was born several weeks ago.

Thank you, Ken, for keeping us updated on our old team. It’s affirming to know that they are in good hands.

4 Human Animal By Meghan Feldmeier, Apprentice 2015

M. Carll

The background of my smartphone—which is not so smart here in the woods, but, in fact, rather useless—displays a beautiful picture in bright chrome colors of Ewe Blue 76’s placental fluid and afterbirth. I took it after her lamb was born, while she was busy cleaning up her new babe. I have been around birth before, as I have been around death, but never so much so fast. The March lambflood was an experience I’ll never forget. They started popping out (nearly jumping out of their mothers) slowly, but then, on a Sunday, I was working alone, feeding the horses, mucking Peggy Sue’s stall, and they came and did not stop coming until twelve new four-legged ruminants were standing and suckling and wondering at air. TWELVE! I was exhausted and elated. The ewes didn’t need much help, and most of the babes found the teats on their own. A pair of twins needed an hour of help, with me holding mama-ewe inbetween my legs while I led their new mouths to her udder, but they found it eventually and haven’t stopped nursing since.

M. Carll

The lambs are big now. Even Dolly, our survivor, rejected by her mother, tiny, tiny thing, bottle-fed and without too many friends, is racing around with her peers. My fellow apprentice always called the third-born “Chunka-Muffin”, but it’s an appropriate nickname for most of them now—they are healthy and fit and growing big.

M. Carll

This year fifty lambs were born. Of those, forty-six survived and are out on pasture with the flock. Dolly (the lamb in the picture to the right) was one of our bottle-fed babies (her mother rejected her). If a loud lamb runs up to you when you visit, chances are that lamb is Dolly.

They are meat animals and will be slaughtered come fall. That’s what we grow them for. And it’s not heartbreaking. Does that make me a monster or a human animal? These little things I helped midwife are running around and weaning themselves from their mothers and eating grass and running away from us farmers—they are annoying as all-get-out and cute as heck. They are also only here for a little while. They’re sheep-happy. That’s the kind of meat energy I want to put in my body.

Thank you, Bryan! We would like to extend a big, heartfelt thank you to Bryan Markhart for his hard work this year. Bryan began last summer as an apprentice. In January, he assumed the position of interim Assistant Farm Manager. While, Bryan, in many ways, was still learning the many facets of the farm in his interim position, his calm, collected nature, and great ability to teach made him We wish Bryan, Assistant Farm Manager, well a wonderful assistant farm as he moves on to his next adventures! manager. He is now off to other explorations, including a summer stint hiking part (or all!) of the Long Trail.

What’s New at the Visitor Bandanas! The summer collection of bandanas has arrived at the Friends of the Forest Shop in the Joy Green Visitor Center. These hankies are great for keeping bugs out of your hair, keeping your neck cool on hot days (just soak in water), serving as a tissue, and not to mention, these particular bandanas are like a small field guide that’s lightweight and easy to pack. The 18” x 18” cotton hankies have interesting prints on them: Guides to Birds of Prey, Survival Bandana, Wildflowers, Trout, Cloud Formations, First Aid, Animal Tracks, Glow-in-the-Dark Star Guide and more. Bandanas range in price from $3.00 to $7.50 each.


Recipe from the Lodge

Did You Know? ?

Blueberry Coffee Cake Ingredients:


Compiled by Katie Connor, Visitor Center Engagement Specialist

Recipe submitted by Kathryn Lawrence

?Did you know? George

Merck never saw the property that became Merck Forest before he bought it. He sent his secretary, a Miss Elizabeth Kelley, to scout out land purchase possibilities. She called him about some land in Rupert, Vermont and after getting some details about the place from her, George told her to put a down payment on the land.

1/2 cup white sugar 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 1 Tbsp butter 1 egg 1/2 tsp cinnamon 2/3 cup vegetable oil Mix together until crumbly, sprinkle on batter 1 tsp vanilla 1 cup buttermilk 2 1/2 cups flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 2 cups You-Pick Merck berries (your choice) and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (if desired)

?Did you know? Meyer Road (on the way to Ridge Cabin)


was named after Merck Forest’s first executive director: William “Bill” Meyer. He was a close friend of Mr. Merck.

1. Mix eggs, oil, brown sugar and vanilla. Add flour salt, soda, and buttermilk. After mixing well add nuts (if desired) and berries. Pour in a well greased and floured bundt pan. Add topping.

?Did you know? Schenck Road was named after George

Merck’s uncle, Dr. Carl Alwin “Ollie” Schenck. Uncle Ollie was a huge influence in giving George the love of forestry. Schenck was a forestry expert and founder of the Biltmore Forestry School in North Carolina.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until done. (I do 60 then add more time up to 15 more minutes until cake comes away from sides of the pan.) Pam (or sunflower oil spray) with flour works well to prepare the pan. Cool a few minutes and remove from pan.

How to Tell What’s Ripe and Ready For the Pickin’ You-Pick berries will begin to ripen in July, but, of course, they don’t all mature at once. When you come to the farm for you-pick, we encourage you to try and choose only the ripe berries. You’ll enjoy the taste of the berries you pick much more when you select mature fruits. By leaving unripe berries on the shrub, you will allow future pickers better choice as well. Not all species will ripen after they have been plucked from the stem. Here’s a helpful list of what to look for when you go berry picking: General Rules of Thumb for Berry Picking: Hard, white or light-colored berries with a sour taste are young fruits and not ready to be picked. Look for berries with strong, deep color, sweet flavor, and that pull off the stem with little effort. Fruit that is mushy has over-ripened.



Raspberries (summer & fall-bearing)


White or light pink raspberries are too hard pull off the stem and to eat, and they don’t have a good taste. Leave them to ripen.

x x x

White, x Reddish light green or blackberries pinkish berries are still are too immature. young, sour, Don’t confuse and hard to them with eat. raspberries!

o Ripe blackberries will have a glossy look and firm-tosoft texture. Fruit should pull easily away from the stem.

x = don’t pick, o = please pick!

White, light xo Bluer berries green or pinkish tinged with berries are too purple-red may young, sour, be a bit tart, but and hard to do taste good eat. baked with riper berries.

Purple-red blueberries are still sour tasting.


Blueberries with a deep navy blue color all the way around are generally perfect for picking. raspberry-branch-130926.jpg

o Look for raspberries with a bright, shiny red color. Ripe berries will easily pull from the stem. If the color has started to dull, or if they are mushy, the fruit is overripe.

6 Mushroom Packing (continued from page 1) ...which can be home-composted or used as garden mulch. It is our organization’s intent to convert entirely to this innovative approach and to work with sugar makers across the U.S. and Canada to adopt its use as well. Ecovative’s products are currently used to ship numerous items, including components for major computer companies. Mushroom ® Packaging products also offer a high R-Value for use as an insulating material, which is stable when kept dry, and is highly fire resistant as well (R-Value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power). MFFC is exploring the possibility of using the material in the construction of a new cabin at Clark’s Clearing. We are very excited to be at the forefront of this initiative and would love to hear from you when you see the packaging in your shipments from Merck Forest & Farmland Center, Inc. later this year.

Ecovative sent this image of the packing mold just before it was drop-tested. Instead of using syrup in the tested glass containers, Ecovative is using water and sand to create the same weight and Brix measurement. We are hopeful that the testing goes well!

On the Watch for the Emerald Ash Borer (continued from page 1) USDA Map of Initial EAB Detection and Federal EAB Quarantine Boundaries


...that is working with citizen scientists (that is, community members like you and me who are interested in protecting their backyards and wood lots) to be aware of the EAB. Furthermore, the USDA is actively asking that people refrain from transporting firewood from place-to-place, as this is one of the quickest ways that the EAB is able to infest new areas [3]. With state and federal quarantines on moving firewood—even as close as Rensselaer County, N.Y., just an hour drive from Merck Forest and Farmland Center—certainly the question is beginning to loom in our minds of how we can actively manage our forest for the seemingly imminent arrival of Emerald Ash Borer. Merck Forest and Farmland Center uses roughly 60 cords of firewood a year for the Visitor Center, seven cabins, sugaring operations, the maintenance building, and Lodge. The required cordage is more fuel than we are currently able to produce onsite, but our future goal is to sustainably produce the needed firewood on the property. For now, though, to keep our campers and staff warm and happy during the seven months where woodstove fires are necessary, we often purchase or process wood in neighboring towns both in Vermont and just across the state border in New York, only five miles away. It is possible that as the Emerald Ash Borer and the government-enforced quarantines on moving wood continue to move northward, we will be within a ban area in the coming years, or our wood processor in next-door Washington County, N.Y. may be. Thus, in the future, we may only be able to move firewood, specifically ash, across the NY-VT state line, or between counties intrastate, with a permit, or potentially not at all. We will need to have a strategy in place to be sustainable, environmentally conscious, and keep in the mind the needs of our staff and our visitors who stay at the cabins. For those of you interested in learning more about the emerald ash borer and/or firewood restrictions, there are many sites dedicated to these topics. Check out:

For complete map see: files/MultiState_EABpos.pdf

• • • • •

United States Department of Agriculture: United States Forest Service: Vermont Invasives and Forest Pest First Detector Program: www.vtinvasives. org/invaders/emerald-ash-borer

Citations: [1] Keese, Susan. “Vermont Prepares for the Invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer”, VPR,, June 2014 [2] Herms, Daniel A.; McCullough, Deborah G. “Emerald Ash Borer Invasion of North America: History, Biology, Ecology, Impacts, and Management”. Annual Review of Entomology 59: 13–30. October 2013. [3] United States Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. “Stop the Beetle” website, Viewed May 2015.

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

Staff Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator Katie Connor, Visitor Center Engagement Ethan Crumley, Forester Chris Hubbard, Education Director Tim Hughes-Muse, Farm Manager Kathryn Lawrence, Assistant to the Director Bryan Markhart, Assistant Farm Manager Tom Ward, Executive Director Michelle Wolf, Visitor Center Engagement

2015 Apprentices Meghan Feldmeier Kate Parsons Stephanie Pittman

RidgeLine layout, illustrations, and graphic

design by Melissa Carll

Bob Allen, Treasurer Keld Alstrup Axel Blomberg Jean Ceglowski Phil Chapman Austin Chinn, President Jeromy Gardner George Hatch Ann Jackson Margaret Mertz, Vice President Bruce Putnam Madeline Rockwell, Secretary Phil Warren

Many thanks to Michael Greenwood for submitting some of his beautiful photographs of Merck Forest. Some of his amazing landscapes can be seen on our facebook page. Though, we were particularly taken with this image of the tack room.To our staff, this is a normal, every-day image, but it’s wonderful to see it, literally, through a different lens. 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!




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Merck Forest & Farmland Center PO Box 86, Rupert, VT 05768

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New Faces at MFFC Chris Hubbard—Education Director Growing up in Salem, N.Y., Christine FerrisHubbard had Merck Forest in her backyard. Her early memories of Merck include hiking up the backside to settle into lean-tos for camping and roasting marshmallows with the Girl Scouts and climbing into the hollow tree. Chris graduated from Green Mountain College with a BS in Elementary Education, and from the College of St. Joseph with a Masters in Literacy Arts. She has spent a number of years working with children, both in and out of the classroom. She is fascinated by science, and completed a 3-year science and technology resource program, and was involved in a teacher leadership program focusing on science in the classroom. A traditional folk artist having over 25 years’ experience in chair caning, Chris has given demonstrations at Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks through the New York State Council of the Arts, and has lead classes for their Intergenerational Grands camps. She has taught a variety of seat weaving classes, and is on the staff of the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne, NY. She especially enjoys weaving with locally gathered birch bark. Chris and her husband have a small farm with a growing flock of sheep, two alpacas, a flock of chickens, 3 cats, and their Border collie, Maisie. They enjoy visiting Maine and sea kayaking, as well as cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Chris is excited to join the staff at MFFC, and is looking forward to working with students in the sciences, helping them learn about the world around them.

Ethan Crumley—Forester Growing up in nearby Granville, N.Y., Ethan Crumley enjoyed visiting Merck and romping around the forest as a small child. Merck played a key role in inspiring Ethan’s curiosity for the natural world and a love for the outdoors. In 2011, Ethan completed an A.A.S. Degree in Forest Technology from the SUNY- ESF Ranger School in the Northwestern Adirondacks. Two years later he completed a degree in Forest Resource Management at SUNY- ESF in Syracuse, N.Y. He has worked as a Summer Forester with Finch Forest Management in the Adirondacks. Most recently he has worked for Cersosimo Lumber Company in Brattleboro, Vt. as a Log Scaler (measuring and grading logs). Ethan is excited to be back in the area and to take on the variety of forest management challenges that Merck offers. He hopes to continue to sharpen his own skills while inspiring the next generation of forest managers and stewards.

2015 Summer Ridgeline  

Merck Forest & Farmland Quarterly Newsletter

2015 Summer Ridgeline  

Merck Forest & Farmland Quarterly Newsletter