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Summer 2013 a publication of the Merck Forest and Farmland Center

“Teaching, demonstrating, and sustaining a working landscape” In This Issue page 1

Hay Days, 6/15 and 6/16 BioBlitz Recap page 2

Updates in Brief Fences Improve Rotational Grazing page 3

Controlled Burn Promotes Oak Regeneration page 4

Dispersed Camping Available Students Experience MFFC Through Year Resource Library Online!

Hay Days, June 15 and 16:

Demonstrating Draft Power in the Working Landscape By Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator This summer, Merck Forest and Farmland Center (MFFC) will once again host Hay Days! This free two day event will be held on June 15 and 16 from 10 am - 4 pm. It is a collaboration between MFFC and the Green Mountain Draft Horse Association (GMDHA), an organization dedicated to sharing knowledge about draft horses. Hay Days will showcase the importance of draft power within the working landscape. Members of the GMDHA will demonstrate how horses can be used for plowing, tilling, raking, tedding, and Phil Warren’s (trustee) team pulls a more. Much of the work will be based on the haying tedder, which is used to spread hay so it then can dry. season. Join together at 2 pm both Saturday and Sunday for a discussion on “How to Start Farming with Draft Power,” and take part in the children’s activities related to MFFC’s horses and farm.

BioBlitz: A Survey of Species on Site

Intern Corner

By Sarah Ullman, Director of Education

Recipe from the Lodge

page 7

About Us & Memberships page 8

Summer Calendar Trail Crew Dates

Photograph by Sarah Ullman

page 6

Support, Be a Volunteer!

Recipe on page 4

This event is open to everyone interested in learning about draft power for farming, and don’t forget to try the Switchel when you visit!

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Now at the Visitor Center

e tim

hel c t i w Sw S m er Sum

On Saturday May 11th, expert naturalists teamed up with volunteers to catalog living species on site during Merck Forest and Farmland Center’s inaugural BioBlitz! In collaboration with Dr. Kerry Woods of Bennington College, this event proved to be a fun and engaging way to study biodiversity at MFFC, and it served as a pilot for a larger, more substantial BioBlitz this coming fall.

Armed with weathered field guides and infinite curiosity, thirty participants—including twelve Two participants in the BioBlitz show the red efts (Notophthalmus students from Burr and Burton Academy—broke viridescens) that they found along Stone Lot Road. These newts were into small groups and hiked through five different just one species of amphibians found during the survey. study plots located near the farm. Depending on the expertise of the naturalist leading each group, participants were on the lookout for birds, trees and non-woody plants, mushrooms, and amphibians. After a few hours in the field, and a little (albeit at times heavy!) rain, the lists were in, and a few unknown species were keyed out. Continued on page 3

3270 Route 315, PO Box 86, Rupert, Vermont 05768

p. 802.394.7836

Updates in Brief

Sheep Dog Trials and Farm Festival

You-pick berries are back this season! Keep a lookout for the sign at the bottom of the driveway when berries are ripe for pickin’. MFFC’s delicious blueberries and raspberries are free from chemicals, and will be ready to be picked in June, July, and August. Feel free to bring your own containers. Hand-picked berries will be $2.25/lbs, or purchase quarts and pints at the Visitor Center.

Forest For Every Classroom April 2013 through May 2014


Happening This Summer: Professional Development Programs Methods in Place-Based Environmental Education June 24 through June 28, 2013

September 7 and 8, 2013; 8 am - 4 pm

MFFC will host the Sheep Dog Trials in collaboration with the Northeast Border Collie Association. Children’s games, local food and craft vendors, and the sheep dog trials are a full day of fun for the family! $5/adult and $3/ages 5-12, 4 & under FREE

Forest Pest First Detector Program June 8 (9:30 am - 4:30 pm) This summer, MFFC will host Vermont’s Forest Pest First Detector Program, a partnership between University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and state and federal agencies. This course, which also includes seven online modules, will certify individual volunteers as a First Detector, someone who can identify pests such as the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer, and hemlock woolly adelgid, and monitor their local communities for them. For more information, visit

New Fences Improve Rotational Grazing By Timothy Hughes-Muse, Farm Programs Manager and Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator

Readers may remember in the Winter 2012-13 Ridgeline, Farm Programs Manager Timothy Hughes-Muse wrote about the new grant-funded fences put in place during the fall. These fences are the literal framework for MFFC’s managed intensive rotational grazing by its animals. Rotational grazing is a means to regularly and systematically move the farm animals every several days to fresh pastures, while allowing the old pasture to rest and regrow. This system is beneficial to MFFC’s animals and land. The animals are fed fresh fodder, and, in turn, the meat they produce is of better quality. The land is allowed time to replenish itself and does not erode from overuse. In short, rotational grazing creates a much more sustainable way of raising livestock. The benefits of the new fences are already tangible: The farm staff have been better able to actively manage the grazing patterns of the sheep, sow, piglets, horses, chickens, and goats because of the infrastructure. In the words of Hughes-Muse, “We want to use the animals to change and improve the landscape: goats and pigs are clearing brush and opening up the viewshed, and the sheep are intensively grazing the pastures, which allows for more nutritious pasture plant species and increased soil fertility.

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Intensive rotational grazing creates a change in pasture species that is preferable to grazing animals; whereas continuous grazing leads to weed species taking over the pasture, decreasing forage yield and quality.” In order to further promote healthy pastures, this spring 31.5 acres of field were reseeded with alfalfa and timothy, the pastures with clover, and the Sap House pasture with a mix that includes fescue and orchard grass. A manure spreader was also purchased to spread nutrient-rich compost and manure on the hay fields. The fences are just part of the positive transformations occurring at the farm; a change that allows MFFC to demonstrate one of the best methods in sustainable farming.

Photograph by Melissa Carll

The farm is a continually changing space due to weather, time, and the evolution of informed ideas. Change at the farm is particularly gratifying when one choice begins to positively transform not only the farmscape, but also support the farm’s management practices.

Ellie, one of the farm’s working Suffolk Punch draft horses, spends her summers rotating through the pastures, eating fresh grasses.

That’s right! A sow and five goats joined the farm this spring. See page 5 for more info.

Oak Regeneration by a Controlled Burn

Photograph by Tom Ward

By Tom Ward, Executive Director

Crew workers controlled the fire by starting small segments a bit at a time. Generally, the flames are kept lower than 12-15 feet for safety and to only burn the ground vegetation.

On May 1, 2013, a controlled burn of 62 acres on the northerly part of Old Town Road, east of Lookout Road, was conducted by Fire Management Services of Vermont. This area had previously been burned in 1998, and a shelter wood harvest was subsequently conducted in 2008. The shelter wood treatment was designed to regenerate a stand of red oak seedlings on the site, but the oak regeneration was disappointing, and subsequently, the most recent burn was proposed. The purpose of this burn, as stated in Merck Forest and Farmland Center’s forest management plan, was “to eliminate and/or truncate undesirable woody vegetation and to enhance red oak regeneration.” While potentially creating more valuable oak for timber, the burn may also enhance habitat for species that like oak. The burn site was well planned: fire lines were constructed; precautionary measures, such as hose lines, were laid out in advance of firing; mobile pump units were prepositioned along the uphill side of the burn area; and enough workers were in place to handle the manual labor of controlling the burn once initiated. The fire team was prepared, briefed and very professional throughout the entire event. Mopup after the burn extended through the following day, and the site was monitored daily for another four days for any potential “escapes” or flare-ups.


(62 acres)





ow ld T


Aerial view of the burn site. The area burned had consisted heavily of beech trees, which out-compete oaks. The burn will hopefully give the oaks a better success rate.

Photograph by Alan Calfee

Burn Site

cont. from page 1

Results from this initial BioBlitz, and others held in the future, will be posted on our website for the public to view. The surveys may also be useful to inform future management decisions here at Merck Forest. If you are interested in getting involved in other field surveys down the road (think September or October 2013 for the next BioBlitz), we would love to have your help! Please contact Sarah at sarah@ for more details.

Photograph by Sarah Ullman

Mount Antone


Photograph by Sue Van Hook

The day after the burn some areas still smoldered. The crew patrolled the site in order to put out any small flare-ups, and for the next few days MFFC staff continued to ensure that the fire did not rekindle.

By summer 2014, peek behind the charred logs and ashen duff around the Lookout to see if the oaks begin to populate the site.

Photograph by Melissa Carll

Photograph by Melissa Carll

It is too early to know for certain, but it appears that the first goal of reducing or eliminating the existing woody vegetation was likely successful. We will know for certain after the saplings attempt to leaf out in the coming weeks. If the leaves flush and then wilt, the first stage will have succeeded. More difficult will be the second phase, which will succeed only if the oaks left in the over-story have good acorn production in the next couple of years, and if the acorns turn into established seedlings. Controlled burns place stress on the “seed trees”, which oftentimes leads to heavier seed production, so we feel we may have set the stage for success.

Thanks again volunteers!



Resource Library is Now Online! MFFC has started to place publications online. Various documents, including the forest management plan, past Ridgeline issues, and Merck Forest and Farmland Center historical documents are available for interested parties to peruse. The Resource Library can be found on our website under the “About Us” tab. Or follow the link here: The apprentices welcome comments on their newsletter article and blog. This season, tell them what your favorite places are at MFFC. (see page 5 “Power of Place”)

Vi ew th e

A ppre nti ce Blo g

on lin e to o

Get Off the Trail! Dispersed Camping Now Available Backpackers and campers have asked us for years whether they can pitch their tent in areas other than the designated cabin and shelter sites, and now, we are happy to announce, dispersed camping is an option for visitors. If you’ve been wanting to camp in some of the more remote areas of Merck’s forest, please call to obtain a permit (permits are a requirement, and there are a limited number available.) Rates are $5.00/person per night, with a 7 night maximum stay. Goups, numbering up to 12 people, are welcome. Merck Forest always tries to be as conscious of land stewardship as possible, and we ask the same from our dispersed campers. Please respect the “Leave No Trace” policy. More information on dispersed camping can be found on our website.

Maple Street School Students Experience MFFC Through the Year Ms. Brown’s kindergarten class has been coming up regularly to the farm during this past school year. Brown feels that it is important for the students to be able to see the seasonal changes that happen in the landscape, and reflect on those changes. In order to showcase their experiences for this newsletter, the class drew and wrote of their favorite parts of visiting the farm. All of the beautiful drawings can be seen in the online Resource Library.

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Photograph by Aaron Lamp

By Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator

The apprentice blog is updated weekly. Check it out to see how things progress this summer.

The Power of Place By Emilie Schwartz, Apprentice 2013 This past March, the education staff from Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT came to Merck to learn about our maple sugaring operation and to collaborate on place-based education programming. A discussion on the importance of how specific places affects how, and what, we teach was a theme that threaded itself through the day’s conversations.


from the

Summertime Switchel

At the end of the day, our group discussed their favorite places at Merck Forest, or Shelburne Farms, respectively, and thought of ways to use those personal connections to a place to inform our teaching and connect our students to those spaces as well.


1/2 cup Yoder Farms apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup molasses 1/2 cup MFFC Vermont-certified maple syrup 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 2 quarts water

Since that meeting, the other apprentices and I have spent a great amount of time exploring MFFC and finding favorite places on the property. During the winter and early spring, we loved trying to walk through the sugarbush when the snow was up to our knees and discovered that was one of our most-liked places to be. As spring approached and the snow melted, we discovered the joy of being outside by a campfire at the Lodge, and that, too, became a choice place. Now, as summer approaches, sitting at Birch Pond with a good book has become one of my new favorite places at MFFC.

2. Stir together until all ingredients are dissolved. 3. Pour into glasses with ice and drink right away, or place in fridge overnight and let the flavors blend together.

* Switchel is a traditional New England drink made during haying season (and the hot summer months). There are many variations on how to make this revitalizing concoction. Come try this version at MFFC’s Hay Days, June 15 and 16th!

Photograph by Melissa Carll

Plum, a heritage breed Tamworth sow, has become part of the farm. She will be bred, and her piglets will be raised for the pastured-pork sold in the Visitor Center; not only does breeding a sow on site create educational opportunities for apprentices and visitors, but it is a way to sustain the existance of heritage livestock.


1. Pour ingredients into a half gallon jar or pitcher, adding water last.

Speaking of Goats...

Photograph by Melissa Carll

Heritage Sow Joins the Farm

As I continue to explore the trails at Merck, I look forward to the places I have yet to discover...


This spring, the apprentices approached our neighbors at Consider Bardwell Farm, in West Pawlet, VT to ask if they would loan some of their male goats to us for the summer.

These five guys will help us “mow” around the property, and in return, will be well-fed when they leave us in the fall. In short, MFFC saves on fuel and Consider Bardwell saves on feed. A great trade-off!

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At the Visitor Center

r Reminde

Pre-order now! Order Form

Whole or Half Pig

This summer, Merck Forest is once again offering customers the chance to pre-order either a whole or half pig or whole lamb from the farm.

New this season: customers can order a whole or a half pig from our farm!

fee. Merck Forest asks for the handling fee as a deposit (please send in with this paperwork). After processing, we will inform you of the total charge, which can be delivered upon pick-up. Availability is limited. Please send in order prior to September 2012. Orders will be available for pick-up at the Visitor Center11, last week of September. the

The farm will send the pigs to market in mid-September. Pigs typically dress out at 180 lbs hot hanging weight. Customers can expect 140 lbs of pork depending on butchering preferences. Pork is sold at $5.50 per pound for whole or half pig (hot hanging weight), and there is an additional $85 processing and handling

Forms are also available in the You can orderVisitor Center, or at www. online or through the mail.

Please fill out information:


Date: Name:


Phone: Deposit enclosed: y/n

Cash/ Check/Visa/Mastercard

CC number:


This is a great chance to get the meat cuts that you want, at a reduced cost. Consider sharing with a friend if you don’t feel you have enough freezer space.

half pig (choose 1 option from this column) picnic ham

Peterson’s Field Guide Coloring Books are newly stocked on the shelves this season. Part of the Peterson’s Field Guide Series, this group of detailed coloring books (with stickers) also serve as a reference for figuring out which type of woodpecker or wildlfower you saw on your hike at MFFC. The Visitor Center carries four different books: Butterflies, Mammals, Wildflowers, and Birds. $8.95/each

While Merck Forest and Farmland Center is largely supported by donations from our community members, volunteering is another way to contribute to MFFC. This year, our volunteer base has grown, and we couldn’t be more thankful! However, we always appreciate new helping hands to take part in sustaining our programs and facilities. There are four areas in our organization that can always use your help: the farm, the trail system, events, and the garden at the Visitor Center. The columns to the right outline some of the opportunities available for volunteers.

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2 smaller roasts or

2 smaller roasts

2 smaller roasts

ground meat

ground meat

ground meat


options, half pig (this column) whole pig 1(2from each column)

option one

option one



whole rack baby back ribs

whole tenderloin


whole tenderloin

boneless loin - whole


boneless loin - whole





2 loin roasts

2 loin roasts

boneless cutlets: cutlets per package 4 8 12 boneless chops: thickness of chops 1/2” 3/4” 1” chops per package 2 4 6 8 option two

whole loin cut into bone-in chops thickness of chops 1/2” 3/4” 1” chops per package 2 4 6 8

boneless cutlets: cutlets per package 4 8 12 or

boneless chops: thickness of chops 1/2” 3/4” 1” chops per package 2 4 6 8 option two

whole loin cut into bone-in chops thickness of chops 1/2” 3/4” 1” chops per package 2 4 6 8


option one


2 smaller roasts


half pig (1 option from this column)

boston butt 1 large roast


whole rack baby back ribs


1 large roast


ground meat


Order forms are available in this Ridgeline or on our website: http://

picnic ham


1 large roast



whole pig (2 options, 1 from each column)

boston butt



1 large roast



whole rack spare ribs and fresh pork belly

option two

whole rack meaty spare ribs

option three

smoked bacon

whole pig (2 options, 1 from each column)


option whole rack spare ribs and fresh one pork belly Ground pork amounts vary depending on other cut choices, option and pig size. Half pig averages 7.5 lbs whole rack meaty spare ribs two of ground meat, and one package of the below choices. Whole pig option averages 15 lbs. with combination smoked bacon three below choices. Specify amounts. of fresh ground mild breakfast hot italian sweet italian pork chorizo sausage sausage sausage ground lbs. ground lbs. ground lbs. ground lbs. ground lbs.


half pig (1 option from this column) option one

1 very large leg roast (12+ lbs.) fresh smoked

option two

2 leg roasts & 1 hock fresh smoked

option three

leg steaks & 1 hock fresh smoked thickness: 1/2” 3/4” 1” steak quantity: 2 4 6 8

option four

all ground

whole pig (2 options, 1 from each column) option one

1 very large leg roast (12+ lbs.) fresh smoked

option two

2 leg roasts & 1 hock fresh


option three

leg steaks & 1 hock fresh smoked thickness: 1/2” 3/4” 1” steak quantity: 2 4 6 8

option four

all ground

Submit Pork form by: August 15, 2013 Submit Lamb form by: October 1, 2013 Please call the Visitor Center with questions. We will be happy to help you make your selections.

Four Ways to Volunteer Farm



Visitor Center

Volunteers at the farm will find they have a variety of options, whether it be weeding the new grazing garden, pruning and picking berries, harvesting the garlic and potatoes, mowing the grounds, or helping to wash eggs.

30 miles of trails require constant maintenance, and volunteers are important in keeping MFFC’s hiking paths open. If your calendar doesn’t match N the trail work party dates (see page 8), our Trail Maintenance Coordinator can set up a schedule that works for you.

Email to find out how you can take part.

From the Maple Celebration to Hay Days and the Sheep Dog Trial, MFFC’s annual events are our busiest days at the farm. Assistance from volunteers makes these events, and others like the Moonlight Hikes, rewarding for everyone!

Do you like working in the garden? The V.C. garden can always use some extra green thumbs to pull weeds, prune, and water.

Volunteering opportunities at MFFC change with the seasons!

Membership at Merck: Join or Renew Today! Please fill out and mail: Merck Forest & Farmland Center PO Box 86, Rupert, VT 05768

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!



Date: Title: Name(s):

Additional Contribution:

Address: Total Amount Enclosed: Payment: Cash/Check/Visa or MasterCard

Do you want the Ridgeline via email? Exp:

Card #:


Email: Phone:


About Us

Member benefits include:

Merck Forest and Farmland Center is

an educational non-profit 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. Advisory Council Kathleen Achor

Bob Gasperetti

Jon Mathewson

Judy Buechner

Bambi Hatch

Axel Neubohn

Donald Campbell

Richard Hittle

John Pless

Sue Ceglowski

Anne Houser

Liz Putnam

Ann Cosgrove

Emily Hunter

Bob Taggart

Ed Cotter

Ann Jackson

Patty Winpenny

Bob Ferguson

Deirdre Kinney-Brennan

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 Ridge Line

his? t s i e r e Wh

Hint: warm glow is always present in this cabin no matter the season.

Board of Trustees Axel Blomberg

Victoria McInerney

Jean Ceglowski

Margaret Mertz

Phil Chapman, Treasurer

Bruce Putnam

Austin Chinn, Vice President

Madeline Rockwell, Secretary

Jeromy Gardner

Phil Warren

Gerrit Kouwenhoven, President

Corinna Wildman


Answer: This photo was taken inside Ned’s cabin during a stay by a wonderful group of gentlemen. Photo imagery by Wolfgang.

Melissa Carll, Communications Coordinator Tim Hughes-Muse, Farm Programs Manager Kathryn Lawrence, Assistant to the Director Amy Malsbenden, Visitor Engagement Specialist Sarah Ullman, Director of Education Chris Wall, Trail Maintenance Coordinator Tom Ward, Executive Director Chad Virkler, Sugar Maker

2013 Apprentices

Visit us online:

Carolyn Loeb Becca Osborne Emilie Schwartz

RidgeLine layout, illustrations, and graphic design by Melissa Carll

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PO Box 86, Rupert, Vermont 05768

Printed on 100% recycled paper

Trail Crew 2013 The season for trail work is in full swing! There are several more dates for trail work party day trips, and sign-ups are still ongoing for the Summer Trail Crew for Teens (TCFT).

2013 Trail Crew for Teens • June 23 – June 28 • July 7 – July 12 • July 21 – July 26 • August 4 – August 9

Teens ages 14 - 18 will spend five days working on trails under the guidance of our staff, doing team-building exercises, enjoying evenings around a camp fire, and spending a week outside!

Forms available at

2013 Day Trip Schedule

Trail work days are open to everyone ages 10 and above. Come learn how to use July 15 tools for maintenance, and the science of what makes September 28 Nat’l Public Lands Day a good trail. Rack up some volunteer hours, and be a trail steward! June 1 Nat’l Trails Day

Summer Calendar Hay Days: Draft Power Demonstrations June 15 and 16, 10 am - 4 pm

MFFC and Green Mountain Draft Horse Association will showcase draft power in the working landscape. Open to all interested in learning about this farming method. Join us for a panel discussion @ 2pm and children’s activities. FREE Moonlight Hikes* June 22 @ 7:30 pm; July 22 @ 7:30 pm; August 20 @ 7:30 pm

These evening hikes are guided by our staff and last approximately 2 hours. You’ll travel a moderate loop, oftentimes seeing the sunset and the moonrise in the same walk. Always wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight, just in case! FREE Farm Chores: Special Summer Series* Thursdays, June 20 through July 25 (excluding July 4), 2pm - 4pm

Join us for an afternoon of farm fun! Work with our staff to collect and wash eggs, water the animals, pick berries, and tour the grazing garden. Learn how the farm operates, and if you want, take home some of the food you collected for a discount. $2/person, ages 3+ *Please call ahead to sign-up.

* Activities may be weather-dependent; please call the Visitor Center between 9am - 4pm for more information. 802-394-7836

2013 Summer Ridgeline  

Merck Forest & Farmland Center Quarterly Newsletter

2013 Summer Ridgeline  

Merck Forest & Farmland Center Quarterly Newsletter