Page 1

Spring 2012

Teaching and demonstrating the benefits of innovative, sustainable management of forest and farmland.

Welcome page 1

Note From the Director’s Desk

Features page 2

Merck’s New Sugarbush New Staff Members page 3

Education Evolving page 4

View From the Farm Cabin Now in the Visitor Center page 5

Thank You to Our Contributors page 6

Intern Interview Recipe from the Lodge page 7

About Us and Membership

Calendar page 8

Workshops & Events Merck Forest & Farmland Center 3270 Route 315 PO Box 86 Rupert, Vermont 05768 p. 802.394.7836

Note From the Director’s Desk By Tom Ward, Executive Director It may be the “dead of winter,” but I just heard one of the resident barred owls begin the courtship season, hooting to announce his desire. Local owls mate in late winter so that their young can be well fed on the bounteous harvest of young rodents, whose parents are also breeding now. Coincidentally, monarch butterflies, which over-winter at 3300 meters elevation in the Transvolcanic Mountains of Mexico, are beginning to emerge from their seasonal hibernation in anticipation of returning to the northeastern United States and Canada. It takes as many as four generations of these insects to make the trip. Critical information seems to pass from parent to offspring genetically, enabling this years’ progeny to return to the same geographic regions their forebears frequented in years past. Animals and plants have evolved myriad systems and behaviors that allow them to survive in various conditions. For example, hibernating chipmunks avoid the energy deficits typically encountered during winter in the northeast by entering torpor by lowering their internal temperature to near zero degrees Celsius. Golden-crowned kinglets adapt their feeding behavior to provide enough calories to survive minus thirty degree Celsius nighttime

photo courtesy of Laura Rissolo

In This Issue

Barred Owls usually appear at dusk. Often at the top of Old Town Road, visitors can hear them hooting.

temperatures by keeping their internal temperature at 41.67 degrees Celsius. Other animals produce chemicals enabling them the “super-cool”; their internal temperature drops below freezing without incurring cell damage. Natural selection leads to adaptations which enable successes to be encoded in the DNA of future generations. There is much to be learned from the plants and creatures around us though it seems the more I learn, the greater my amazement. Peace, Tom

Back by Popular Demand After a hiatus of several years Merck Forest and Farmland Center has decided to recommit to keeping in touch with you via our newsletter, the Ridge Line. We hope to use this as a springboard to increase communication with the many people who care so deeply about

our mission to demonstrate sustainable management models for farm and forest land. Merck invites your feedback and wants to ask as many of you as possible to choose to receive the Ridge Line electronically so we can reduce our expenses—and our carbon footprint. Please email us at “” to subscribe for the digital copy.



Merck’s New Sugarbush By Jack O’Wril, Forester Now that we are in the throes of spring, everyone at Merck has one thing on their mind—maple sugaring. With the 2012 sugaring season comes some major changes in our operations.

photo courtesy of Heather O’Wril

The area we selected to tap is a very nice potential sugarwoods—meaning it has a lot of sugar maple. After selecting the location, we determined that the forest needed to be thinned before installing a tubing system. The forest stocking was high, which simply means that trees do not have enough room to grow. To change this we marked the trees to be removed by loggers during the winter months when the ground was frozen.

photo courtesy of Sarah Ullman

The first and biggest change is the location of our sugarbush. Over the past 40 years Merck staff and interns have had to travel two miles out to the heart of the property to reach the sugarbush. Recently we decided our solution to this challenge was to lease out that distant sugarbush to a neighbor, and to create a new one more central to our daily operations, just upslope from the farm.

It took the staff a week to assemble the new evaporator in the sap house. The smaller set-up will decrease the amount of energy Merck uses to boil sap.

As soon as the loggers finished, Merck staff and interns installed the tubing for the new 3000-tap sugarbush. The next step was to prepare for the new evaporator. After last sugaring season the staff at Merck had unanimously agreed the evaporator was much larger than we needed for our operation, and we selected a new 4’ x 12’ evaporator from Leader Evaporator, which should meet our needs (and gives a little room to grow if we’d like to down the road). Yes, we have a new sugarbush. And yes, we have a new evaporator. But to us, the real importance of these changes is that we now have a sugaring operation that is appropriately sized, uses less energy to operate, and is in an accessible location where we can easily demonstrate our work. The 2012 sugaring season has begun, and we at Merck Forest are ready!

Interns and staff tapped the trees in the early weeks of March 2012. Above: Winter Intern, Dena Paolilli, puts a tap into a maple.

Welcome to Merck: New Staff Members Farm Programs Manager

Communications Director

We are all very excited to welcome Tim Hughes-Muse of Pawlet, VT, as the Farm Programs Manager. He has just the right balance of experience and intellectual curiosity to work with Sarah Ullman, Director of Education, on the development of our inquiry-based educational program. We encourage you to seek him out when you next visit, and he can tell you about his plans for the farm.

Merck is extremely fortunate to have Annette Nielsen of Salem, NY, join us as the point person for communications. She possesses a keen mind, exceptional writing skills and a good sense of how to bring order to this much needed task. You will be able to find her typing away in the Visitor Center.



Education Evolving By Sarah Ullman, Director of Education In my five months working at Merck Forest and Farmland Center, I’ve learned many valuable things. The Visitor Center masonry stove is the best place to gather for meetings; boots must always be kept nearby for unexpected adventures; and the concept of sustainability is meaty, complex and always changing. This last lesson has certainly been my greatest one so far.

As I move forward with making these connections, I’ve been keeping in mind the importance of asking questions and determining how our own evolving understanding of sustainability can both inform and be informed by, inquirybased education. I believe that the development of school programs, internships and community workshops, which encourage questioning and exploring to find answers, allows the impact of our work to spread even further beyond our 3,160 acres.

photo courtesy of Sarah Ullman

Ultimately, it is my hope that students of all ages will carry their experiences at Merck back home with them, with an increased awareness of their influence on the natural world and greater investment in the landscapes around them. Please stay tuned to our website as PreK-12, internship and community programs expand and unfold!

photo courtesy of Meghan Fahey

During Merck’s 60+ years of demonstrating and teaching the public about the sustainable management of forest and farmland, we’ve often changed scope or headed in new directions, but we have stayed committed to discovering how sustainability plays a part in our stewardship of the natural world. What are the best and most informed decisions we can make that will help us be better stewards of the land, the animals and of the audiences we’re trying to reach? It’s not an easy question, but it’s definitely a fun one to tackle! As the new Director of Education, my job is to connect these decisions to the greater purpose of our work: to provide opportunities for visitors to engage with, and learn from, our working landscape.

Homeschoolers participate in a wildlife tracking lesson in March. Not only did students learn to identify various tracks, they also walked, hopped, and mimicked patterns of critters’ movements.

“What are the best

and most informed decisions we can make that will help us be better stewards of the land...?

- Sarah Ullman

Tim Hughes-Muse, the Farm Programs Manager, teaches one of the interns, Martha Brummitt, how to use the tractor.



View From the Farm Cabin: Why is Merck Forest Important? By Dan Sullivan, Caretaker

While there is no shortage of places in Vermont (and the country altogether) for people to connect with the natural world, Merck Forest is one of the few that is free to the public year round, does not have paved roads or traffic, and, even on the busiest days, you can easily find yourself alone in a quiet and beautiful place. The opportunity for people to develop a close and caring relationship with the natural world has been provided by Merck Forest for over sixty years, and in my relatively short time here I have witnessed this relationship being developed, or renewed, in thousands of people of all ages. They may be here to hike, camp, hunt, paint, take pictures, check out the farm, or just buy syrup, but whether they know it or not, they are all maintaining and strengthening their relationship to the land.

photo courtesy of Dan Sullivan

You don’t have to look very far to begin to find an answer to this question; Aldo Leopold provides an excellent one in his essay The Land Ethic: “We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.” To me, this quote conveys the idea that if we are close to something, and care deeply for it, we can’t help but treat it ethically.

While visiting this wonderful place they are seeing and feeling the forest, the farm, the warm sun, the tall grass, the spring rain, the cold snow, the hard wind. They are developing an understanding of the natural world by finding answers to questions they have, or by pondering new questions. They fall in love with the fresh air, the autumn foliage, the wild and domestic animals, the smell of wood smoke, the sound of singing birds, the squish of mud and the crunch of snow underfoot.

And finally, they learn to have faith in the landscape. Faith that as long as the natural landscape of Merck Forest exists they can come here to experience all nature has to offer. They realize that the land asks little in return, other than to be cared for and to continue to exist. That is why Merck Forest and Farmland Center is important: the land is cared for, managed responsibly, treated ethically, and shared with everybody, allowing for the fostering of a rich and fruitful relationship that will continue for not only a lifetime, but hopefully for generations to come. In Part II (in the next edition of Ridge Line) will discuss how this philosophy can be applied to farm animals and the food we eat.

Now at the Visitor Center As warmer breezes blow across the Merck landscape, and new shoots stick their necks up from the cool soil, many of our visitors are starting to think about their gardens. The Visitor Center has a collection of new books to inspire amateur and seasoned green thumbs alike! The Naturescaping Workbook by Beth O’Donnell Young

This book engages and teaches the reader to use nature as a guide for their household landscape designs; how to use earthfriendly materials, rainwater collection systems, attract wildlife to the yard, and much, much more.

Also try out some of our products that are produced on site, such as:

Merck’s Maple Cream

Delicious on toast, in coffee, or use in your cooking, Merck’s own maple cream is a sweet addition to your refrigerator! 5 oz for $5.00



Thank You to Our 2011 Contributors 3-Corner Field Farm Kathleen Achor David & Pippa Ader James Alcott Keld Alstrup Chip Ams Robert Andersen The Aspen at Manchester Florence Barad Stuart Bartow Helen & Fred Baum Hank & Nancy Belber Darla Belevich Philip and Janie Bell Bennington Garden Club Richard & Angela Berkfield Berkshire Bank Phyllis Binkley Alan Binnick Judy Boehlert Bruce & Shirlee Boselli Bossung Family Russell Bradley Timothy & Juliette Britton Tim & Sally Brown Geoffrey Brown Jerry & Nancy Burke David & Mary Jo Burton Hoa Campbell Cass & Abigail Canfield Reeve Cantus Robert & Anna Carnicella Jean & Gene Ceglowski Charles & Kit Chamberlain Phil & Linda Chapman Charles “Pete” & Jane Childs Sheila & Bill Childs Austin & Gillian Chinn Jack & Juanita Clay Ernie Compain Karen Gordon & Frederick Cooper Elizabeth Cornwall Ed Cotter John, Philippa & Miranda Cully Gary Cunningham Geoffrey Currier Robert & Ginny Daring Mary Dawson Albert Day & W. Marvin Day Franklin Dean-Sarrar Carlo & Susan DeRege Thomas Dirnberger Bill & Joanne Dix Janet Britt & John Dojka Jeremy & Claudia Dole Michael Dollard Jennifer & Philip DuBois Patricia Dupree Junalyn & Peter Duveen William Eberle Suzanne Edwards Rachel Gerstein & Karen Eisenhauer Raymond Ellermann Wynn Senning & Alexander Ewing

John & Olivia Farr Austin Felis Bob Ferguson Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund Ed & Sue Finegan Colin Fisher Lyons Witten & Laura Fitch Mary Dougherty & Marshall Forman Frank Fronhofer A. Corwin Frost John Furman & Family John Garder Jeromy & Heather Gardner John Gardner Robert & Cheryl Gasperetti Liz & Alan Gee George Garretson Wade Charitable Trust Thelma Georgeson Robert & Salley Gibney George Gibson Elizabeth Gilbert Peggy Burns & Jim Gish Jack Glade George Glanzberg Robert Glidden Ruth Goldstone Shelley Hill & Bill Graham Eileen & Jonathan Grant Jillien Graye Green Mountain Vet Hospital Nathaniel Baker & Ann Gregory Robert Grimm Marjorie Grout Robert & Deborah Haas Julian Hadley Noel & Judy Hanf David Bassani & Rob Haren Ronald Harmsen John & Janice Harrington Tom Hart James Hart Ruth Harwood Whitney & Elizabeth Hatch George & Marina Hatch Bayard Henry Richard & Joy Hill Hill & Thompson, P.C. Jeff & Marion Hills Russell Housman Ruth Howard Robert Howe Barbara Howland Bill & Julie Hoyt Mary Hubbard Dick & Virginia Hulett Jay & Judith Inglis Bill & Mary Lou Iovene Richard & Ann Jackson Eric & Barbara Jaffe Gay & Nelson Jesup Bob & Pat Johnston William Jolly Louise Jones Robert Jones Jon Katz

Mark Kearney Keith & Terri Kelley Eric Kennedy Richard & Barbara Ketchum Mr. & Mrs. Walker S. Kimball, Jr. Peter & Claudia Kinder Philip Kirstein Terry Peters & Gary Klee Alfred & Debora Klein Scott & Susan Kobler Pamela Koch Derek & Kris Kouwenhoven & Family Gerrit & Ellie Kouwenhoven Bruce & Jane Krahe Ann Marie Couser & William & Margie Kuchinski Lisa Lieberman & Timothy Lang John Malcolm & Sue LaPorte Eleanor Lea Roger & Ellen Leeds Bonnie Hennell & Paul LeVasseur Frances Levine Pam Magnuson & Joshua Levy John & Cynthia Lhost Tammara Van Ryn & Christopher Lincoln Alan & Terry Lindsey J. Linvill Mary Lippin Robert Lloyd George & Linda Long Anne Lourie Lisa & Joe Lovering Steven Luz-Alterman Michael & Heidi Lynn Macfarlane Family Richard & Katherine Malley John Ezell & Ellen Maloney John & Jane Marino Jon Mathewson Matt & Karen Mayberry Robert & Marilyn Mazur Sloan & Margie McBurney Robert McCafferty John McInerney Kevin McKeon Timothy McLees Andrew Melton Robert & Joan Menson Josephine Merck G.W. Merck Albert Merck George Merck Margaret Mertz Gale Metzger Helene Minugh Richard & Virginia Molea Mooney Family Brett Morrison Elizabeth Moseley Daniel & Calista Mosheim Joe & Jan Mount J.J. & Marion Mueller Steve Murphy Cynthia & Donald Murphy Pamela Nalefski Paul Mahan & Jeffrey Nelson Bruce & Patricia Nelson

Peter Netusil Axel & Naneen Neubohn Newmont Slate Co., Inc. Dan Garfinkel & Annette Nielsen Chris Colarusso & Rita Nolan Mark Lucas & Mary O’Brien Sharon O’Connor Cheryl & Jim O’Connor Robert Odess & James Bogue Ellen & Ned Oelsner Susan O’Leary Theodore Paprocki Margaret Parker Damon Smith & Mary Parker John & Marian Pelton Richard & Suzanne Penney Herb & Faith Perkins Gwenn Perkins John Person George Peterson Karl & Martha Pfeiffer Phantom Laboratory Jack & Gail Phelan Michael Albarelli & Barbara Plonski John & Cathy Plonski Errol & Anita Pomerance Michael & Barbara Powers Craig & Donna Powers Remus Preda & Lisa Randles Bruce Putnam Robert Quinn Rick Raff Ty & Alison Ralli Signa Read Readsboro Lions Club Pendennis & Barbara Reed Stanley & Loretta Reisman Charles & Marcia Reiss Naomi Meyer & Ron Renoni Donald Richards Robert M. Gasperetti Furniture Makers Lee & Susan Romano Craig Roods Adam Roy Thomas Royster John Runnette Stephen Russo Elise Rymer Peter & Janet Saint Germain Stephen & Cheryll Saltzman Tom Peters & Susan Sargent Ellen Sarkisian Stefan Swicker & Duncan Savage Tom Scarnecchia Philip Schenck Carlin Whitney Scherer George & Janie Schildge Alvin & Annie Schlesinger Bob Schoenemann Gene Schoor Kathleen & Kenneth Schurzky David & Mary Lynn Schwenker Norman Seeger Peter Sheldon George Sheldon Cecile & Jerry Shore Scott Silver



ee p i c e R

Thank You to Our 2011 Contributors continued from page 5 Paul Sipple Tom Kopp & Gail Smallwood Raymond & Joanne Smith Bob & JoAnn Somers Squire House Bed & Breakfast John & Susan Stager David Stratton Jim Sullivan SUNY Adirondack Jared & JoAnna Surething

from the


The Fabulous Fritatta


2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup cleaned wild leeks or ramps (white part only, coarsely chopped) 1/2 cup diced zucchini 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese 1/4 cup chopped basil or parsley 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 large Merck eggs freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Robert & Anna Taggart Bill Throop Truist Comprehensive Distribution Cornelia Tuttle

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 2. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch cast-iron (oven-proof) skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and zucchini and cook, stirring for 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Add basil, one-quarter teaspoon salt and a bit of ground pepper, increasing the heat to medium-high.

John Vaillancourt William Van Dyk George & Sue Van Hook W.H. Shaw Insurance Agency, Inc. Carolyn Wade Zaid van Giffen & Jeremy Walker Katherine Wall John & Ruth Ward Philip Warren Judith Warren Gary Warzocha James Weidaw Fred Weinmann Betty & Ken Whalen Elizabeth Wheaton-Smith Fred & Trina Whitridge William & Mona Wightman Corinna Wildman Stephen Williams Garret & Shari Williams Penelope Wilson TC Halkias & Angela Wingate Lee & Marjorie Winslow Avery & Ned Wood Trudy Wood Rob & Meg Woolmington Gil Livingston & Amy Wright

3. Lightly whisk the eggs with a grinding of pepper and the remaining salt in a bowl. Blend the vegetable mix with the eggs in the bowl. Lightly wipe out the skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Return to medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture. 4. When the top of the egg mixture starts to set, take the pan off the burner, sprinkle cheese evenly over the top of the mixture, and place in the oven (or under a broiler), watching closely for 5 minutes or so until it is a golden brown.  Remove from oven. Slide the fritatta out of the pan onto a serving platter.  Slice into wedges and serve hot or at room temperature.

Intern Corner By Martha Brummitt, Winter Intern 2012 Living and working at Merck Forest and Farmland Center is an exciting adventure, to say the least. Each day brings a different task – migrating fences in the sheep pasture, prepping to tap 3,000 trees in the sugar bush, or building curtain rods in the woodshop. What is constant though, are the beautiful views, supply of fresh eggs, and the commute to and from work.

Mark Youndt

Located 1.14 miles from the visitor center (or 2,273 steps) is the cozy Lodge, home for the interns. Each morning I start my trek down the mountain along Old Town Road. For a while, a layer of ice covered the dirt road and walking along the leafy edge with YakTrax strapped on for extra traction was the only way to go. On certain sections, I take extra caution and shuffle my feet in hopes to stay standing. However, even after taking extreme caution my walk can abruptly turn into a seated and sliding position, a surprise that makes me erupt in laughter. On snowy days I carry my “Swiss Bob Sled” on the flat parts and cruise down the slopes, coffee mug in hand, hootin’ and hollerin’ as I gain speed. photo courtesy of Melissa Carll

*Please forgive us for any errors or omissions; call our office with any corrections.

At the bottom of the hill beyond the logger’s landing, the forest opens up and the view inspires. My walk calms at this point – the ice disappears, the terrain flattens, and the Adirondacks in the distance slow my pace. I pause to gaze at the layers of golden, hilly pastures in the foreground and the deep blue ridges in the background. I often think I am so lucky to work and live here! Martha poses for a photograph while installing drop lines in the new sugarbush.



Membership at Merck: Join or Renew Today!

Mail to: Merck Forest & Farmland CenterPO 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 maintain over 3,100 acres of land and more than 28 miles of trails. Thank you for your help!

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 Ridge Line

$50 Individual/Family Membership Additional Contribution:

Sincerely, Merck Staff

Total Amount Enclosed: Payment: Cash/Check/Visa


Card #:





Electronic Copy:





About Us photo courtesy of Aaron Lamp

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. Emily Hunter

Judy Buechner

Ann Jackson

Donald Campbell

Deirdre Kinney-Brennan

Sue Ceglowski

Jon Mathewson

Ann Cosgrove

Axel Neubohn

Ed Cotter

John Pless

Bob Ferguson

Liz Putnam

Bob Gasperetti

Bob Taggart

Jack O’Wril, Forester

Bambi Hatch

Patty Winpenny

Trent Stephens, Facilities Specialist

Richard Hittle

Madeline Rockwell, Secretary

Dan Sullivan, Caretaker

Anne Houser

Phil Warren

Melissa Carll, Education Apprentice Vance Griffith, Resource Technician Tim Hughes-Muse, Farm Programs Manager Jamie Johnson, Produce Marketer Kathryn Lawrence, Assistant to the Director Annette Nielsen, Communications Director Heather O’Wril, Customer Service

Board of Trustees

Kathleen Achor

Elaine Blodgett, Customer Service

Advisory Council


Merck Forest and Farmland Center is

Martha Brummitt, Winter Intern Meghan Fahey, Winter Intern Dena Paolilli, Winter Intern

Jean Ceglowski Phil Chapman, Treasurer Austin Chinn, Vice President Jeromy Gardner Gerrit Kouwenhoven, President Victoria McInerney Margaret Mertz Bruce Putnam

Corinna Wildman

Sarah Ullman, Director of Education Tom Ward, Executive Director

Axel Blomberg Visit us online at

at ‘Merck Forest & Farmland Center’

PO Box 86, Rupert, Vermont 05768



Spring Calendar

To register, call 802.394.7836 (for workshops, please sign-up a week prior, cost $5)

Wool & Weaving

Sugarbush Walk

Foresters for the Birds

March 31, 1pm-4pm

April 1, 9am-11am

May 12, 7am-10am

Learn basic weaving techniques, the lifecycle of wool from sheep to product, and build your own lap loom (supplies provided). We encourage you to bring materials to weave. All ages are welcome to this afternoon of interactive and fun learning!

Tour Merck’s new sugarbush! While hiking with our forester through the stand, you’ll explore a recent thinning. investigate the design of the vacuum system, and view the new energy-efficient evaporator. If weather permits, we will be boiling sap!

Maple Celebration & Breakfast

Time to Knit, Part 4

Full Moon Hike

April 21, 1-4pm

May 5, 6:30pm

Come to the final knitters’ group gathering. Bring your questions, knitting challenges, or a new project you’ve been wanting to tackle. All experience levels are welcome. FREE

Join us for a four mile hike under the Full Flower Moon. The evening walk allows time to view blooming spring wildflowers, and watch the moon rise. FREE

March 24 & 25, 10am-2pm

It’s that time of year again: Merck’s Annual Maple Celebration. Visit the sap house, see our sugaring production, and enjoy our locally-sourced breakfast! Adults $10, Kids $5

Bring your binoculars and field guide to this early morning workshop. You’ll learn about the specific forest management techniques applied in Merck’s newest patch-cut, and how these techniques can create and sustain suitable nesting sites for migrating birds.

Printed on 100% recycled paper

Ridgeline Spring 2012  

Quarterly newsletter

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