Page 1

Summer 2012

a publication of the Merck Forest and Farmland Center

“Teaching, demonstrating, and sustaining a working landscape” In This Issue page 1 Note from the Director’s Desk

page 2 Sheep Dog Trial September 8th - 9th Trail Crew: Summer Programs

page 3 Education Update Farm Happenings Breakfast Proceeds To Local Food Pantries

page 4 Chestnut Plantation View From the Farm Cabin, part 2

page 5 Intern Corner Dena’s Black Bean Brownies

page 6 A Walk in the Woods

Note From the Director’s Desk By Tom Ward, Executive Director “Alternative,” “sustainable,” “green,” “off-thegrid”…. terms describing energy production ideals to which we aspire. Currently, MFFC generates the 30 kilowatt hours we use on average each day by wind power (10%), solar energy (10%) and a diesel-fueled generator (80%). The problem we face is how best to “go green”, reduce our carbon footprint, and upgrade our energy production while being mindful of conservation. The efficient use of energy is certainly an important part of MFFC’s role as a demonstration site for innovative methods of farm and forest management. Changing our approach to energy production will likely entail new high-efficiency back-up generators, additional solar arrays, new battery banks, and changes in computing equipment, all of which would require a substantial capital outlay. Choices entail risks and benefits. Clean- burning propane fuel means hydraulic fracturing with its attendant water table pollution potential. Inexpensive diesel fuel means increased noise, air pollution and risks to soil, air and sea. Wind power entails high capital outlays and requires a significant amount of maintenance. Low maintenance solar arrays

Thank You to Contributors Now at the Visitor Center

page 7 About Us & Memberships

page 8 Summer Calendar

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

Board of Trustees gathered on the deck of the Frank Hatch Sap House for a photo during their April meeting. Back row from left: Jeromy Gardner, Axel Blomberg, Phil Warren, Phil Chapman, Bruce Putnam, Gerrit Kouwenhoven, & Austin Chinn. Front row from left: Madeline Rockwell, Jean Ceglowski, Margaret Mertz, Victoria McInerney, & Corinna Wildman

can be visually un-appealing, and if we stay “off the grid”, the essential lead-acid batteries involve mining, recycling, and landfill issues. Moreover, seven years from installation, a replacement bank of batteries will be needed. If we elect to connect to the existing public electric power grid, we add to the pollution and safety concerns entailed in operating nuclear and hydro-powered plants where Central Vermont Public Service obtains 90% of its energy. On the positive side, we would not have to maintain the infrastructure but would incur a monthly bill of $175 from the power company. There are no easy answers to be found. We could throw up our hands in frustration and continue making piecemeal changes, or….we can embrace the challenge, choose to learn about the risks and opportunities, and then pursue the best alternatives given our current understanding. Leading is fraught with risk… I embrace it, as it is by far the most intriguing part of my job… I like to think George Merck would be excited by the prospect. The real question is, when the choices are made and the costs are determined, will enough people care so the capital can be raised?

page 2

Merck Forest Sheep Dog Trial Open set for September 8 -9

There will be farm-to-table food offerings from some of our region’s best culinary talent and producers, and inside our sugar house, you’ll

find cheese from some of the most outstanding local artisanal and farmstead cheesemakers. Join us and witness some of the region’s best-trained sheep dogs as they compete in the third leg of the Northeast Border Collie Association’s Triple Crown. Regional businesses have the opportunity to be sponsors of this well-attended event; call Kathryn or Annette at 802.394.7836 for details. Admission: $5/adult, $3 children up to 12, admission free for those under 4, 8 am to 4 pm each day; rain or shine. Proceeds benefit Merck’s ongoing educational programming. More information on the event will be posted at

Trail Crew: Summer Programs By Chris Wall, Trail Maintenance Coordinator With spring in full force and summer approaching, many of us will be out hiking on Merck Forest’s thirty six miles of trails. In order to create a great hiking experience, it’s time for a little spring cleaning. And we need your help.

Youth volunteers will spend the week working on trails learning about teamwork and stewardship while having fun exploring Merck’s forest. It’s a great way to go camping, earn community service hours and make a positive impact.

MFFC is proud to announce the creation of a volunteer trail maintenance program. We’re offering monthly trail work parties for youth and adults. Ages 10 to 100 are welcome to join MFFC for a day improving the trail. There are group volunteering opportunities too.

Why volunteer, you say? You get outside, have fun and give back to something bigger than yourself.

We’re also offering a Trail Crew for Teens program for four weeks this summer. Imagine overnight camp with a service learning twist.

Summer Trail Work Schedule Weeklong Trail Crew for Teens June 24 – June 29 July 8 – July 13 July 22 – July 27 August 5 – August 10

Join us and we’ll make Merck’s hiking trails look better than ever. For more information visit volunteer or email to sign up! See calendar for dates.

Check our website for new dates or schedule changes.

Day of Service: Trail Work Parties June 9 June 23 July 21 September 15 September 29 - National Public Lands Day

Photograph by Cindy Kilgore

For anyone who has attended Merck Forest & Farmland Center’s Annual Sheep Dog Trial, you know this is one of Merck’s most popular, family-friendly events. Filled with an unmatched educational experience, you’ll learn about sheep and sheep herding (an integral part of Vermont’s history), happenings at Merck’s farm and forest, and spinning and weaving. All ages will be able to take a wagon ride, while kids will be able to participate in fun farm activities like “penny-in-a-haystack” and potato sack races.

page 3

Education Update

Farm Happenings By Tim Hughes-Muse, Farm Programs Manager

By Sarah Ullman, Director of Education

As the days get longer, and the grass turns greener the summer will bring many changes on the farm, and keeping track of all the happenings can be difficult. Here are some helpful reminders of where you can find us this summer, and what to check out when visiting the farm:

Photograph by Sarah Ullman

By the end of this spring, Merck will have worked with over 15 different schools, 20 classes and 250 students as part of our newly developed School Program, kicked off this past April. Participating grade levels span from Pre-K all the way through college, and schools will visit us from Vermont, New York and Massachusetts. Students will engage with Merck through a variety of program offerings, including our lamb-centered Lifecycles of Livestock and ServiceLearning on the farm and in the forest.

Students get “hands-on” learning with a new lamb during the Lifecycles of Livestock spring offerings program.

Next fall, teachers will have similar opportunities to visit Merck with their students in addition to some new, seasonally adapted experiences to choose from. Interested teachers should stay tuned to our website, as more details unfold in the coming weeks. As we expand our educational programs and outreach, tuition for spring 2012-spring 2013 offerings will continue to be donation-based. Contact Sarah Ullman ( information on school programs.



Dorset Farmer’s Market: Sundays from 10am-2pm. We will be selling syrup, eggs, pork, lamb, asparagus, blueberries, and raspberries. Of course, we’ll have a new batch of bright faces helping out at Merck this summer and fall. Our interns begin Mid-May. Please come by and make them feel welcome. Pullets (farmspeak for young laying hens) begin laying eggs in late June. For the first week or two, eggs will be rather small and inconsistently laid. Once the pullets mature, they will lay eggs steadily through the fall and winter. Garlic harvest will occur in mid July. Let us know if you are interested in helping out. Come and pick berries at the farm. U-pick Blueberries in late July and U-pick raspberries will begin in August. Check out our website or twitter feed for notification (@merckforest). In April we broke ground in the potato field, thanks to long-time volunteer Larry Newcombe and his Suffolk Punch Draft Horses. Merck’s team, Ellie and Daisy will cultivate the taters all summer and then dig them in the fall.

Maple Breakfast Proceeds Go to Local Food Pantries This year, $2.00 from every adult ticket sold at the Maple Sugar Celebration and Breakfast were donated to local food pantries. In total, $600.00 was equally divided between the Rupert, Pawlet, and Salem food shelves. Kathryn Lawrence (right middle) handed checks to Pat Steuernagel (Pawlet), Kelli Lewis (Rupert), and Seth Pitts (Salem) (from left to right) on May 1, 2012. Thank you to those who attended the Maple Breakfast: you are helping support our local communities. The Pawlet Food Pantry is located on Route 30 behind the parsonage and is open the 4th Friday of each month from 9 to 11 am (802.325.3814); the Rupert Food Pantry is located near the corner of routes 315 and 153 and is open every Sunday from 9 to 10:30 am (802.394.2491); and the Salem Food Pantry is located at Burton Hall behind St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on East Broadway in Salem every Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 am or daily, by appointment (518.791.8485).

page 4

(original text from article by Jeromy Gardner, Trustee)

Under a spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands; And the muscles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands.

Longfellow’s familiar lines bring to mind the former glory of the American Chestnut tree. Last summer Merck Forest joined with the Vermont Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation (ACF) in establishing a potenial seed orchard here in Rupert, VT. As most folks already know, the chestnut blight decimated the native stands of what was once the most important commercial hardwood species in the U.S. In 1983 a group of prominent plant scientists founded the ACF with the goal of restoring the chestnut to a position of prominence in eastern hardwood forests. Research has led to a series of attempts to backcross American Chestnut genes with resistant strains of Chinese Chestnut in hopes of producing a cultivar capable of resisting infection by the fungus. Continued backcrossing is hoped to yield a truly blight resistant American Chestnut variety. Last year’s planting of 35 seeds at Merck Forest is another step in the process designed to determine the site tolerance of these plants to high elevation (2000’) conditions. The plan is to establish a larger orchard consisting of pure American Chestnut trees and backcrossed American Chestnut trees, which will be inoculated with fungal mycelium to determine their pathological resistance. A period of up to 20 years should be adequate to see if any of these cultivars will be used in the next backcrossing trial. Merck Forest is proud to be able to partner with ACF in this important investigative step. We are also hopeful we might acquire genetically improved cultivars as they become more widely available. We invite interested parties to contact us in the event they wish to help with site preparation or maintenance.

By Dan Sullivan, Caretaker The first installment of “View From the Farm Cabin” discussed the philosophy, based upon conservationist Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic, that when people are close to something, and care deeply for it, they can’t help but treat it ethically. Part One illustrated how Merck Forest is important because, by applying this idea of ethics to the management of our land, it provides opportunities for others to develop a close relationship with the land. Now, as the growing season is upon us and the ewes and their lambs are happily grazing in the pastures, I urge readers to think about how Leopold’s philosophy can not only be translated to forest stewardship, but also to the farm; specifically, to farm animals and the food we eat. Unfortunately, we live in a time when many people have little connection to the food they consume. The lack of a relationship with farm animals has led to what many might consider “large-scale animal abuse” through factory farming practices that often favor high production over high quality of life for animals. However, here at Merck Forest we strive to raise our animals in a humane, healthy, and compassionate way, which allows them to express their natural behaviors. And, though their lives may be short, as you watch them grazing, digging, bounding, and oftentimes playing in the sunshine it is hard to argue that they are not content. So why is Merck Forest and Farmland Center important in regards to the food you eat? Because our staff cares deeply for our farm animals, treats them ethically, and provides the public with an opportunity to develop a close and caring relationship with these beautiful creatures. So come to Merck to buy pork, or lamb, or eggs, and wander up to the farm to see the animals for yourself. Sit by the sheep and chew grass in the sun; watch the pigs root around in the soil; or see the chickens meticulously scratching at the ground in search of bugs. Then, as you sit down for supper later that evening, you will hopefully feel more satisfied and more connected to your food—knowing, because you have seen it for yourself, that the animal you are eating was raised in a loving and ethical way.

Photograph by Sarah Ullman

Edited by Tom Ward, Executive Director

View From the Farm Cabin: Why is Merck Forest Important?

Photograph by Daniel Sullivan

Chestnut Plantation

page t

e p from the Intern Lodge i c e R Dena’s Black Bean Brownies Ingredients:

3/4 cup cooked black beans 1/2 cup oil 2 Merck eggs 2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup chocolate chips 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Oil an 8x8 pan. 3. Mix together the eggs, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder in a medium size bowl. 4. Puree black beans and oil in a blender. 5. Melt chocolate chips in a sauce pan over low heat. 6. Add pureed black beans and the melted chocolate chips to the rest of the ingredients. Transfer to the oiled pan. 7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, and then cool on racks.

Where is this?

Next time you are out on the trail, try and find this rock cairn. Happy hiking!


Intern Corner Winter intern, Meghan Fahey, spent three months this year learning and working at Merck Forest, on the farm, in the sugarbush, and living in the Lodge. In the following letter she describes some of the travails, and the fun, that she had while being a part of the MFFC community. We sincerely thank her for her hard work, and wish her the best as she spends the next two years in Nicaragua as part of the Peace Corps.



A Walk in the Woods

of their presence as I hike the trails at Merck. The forest is alive with sounds, if I only pay attention.

By Kathryn Lawrence, Assistant to the Director On a sunny but cool April day a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of leaving my desk for a few hours for the weekly task of visiting a few of Merck’s cabins. That particular week Dunc’s, Nenorod and Ned’s all needed to be looked in on and swept in preparation for the next group of weekend visitors. The shrubs along Old Town Road were beginning to show pale green leaves, chipmunks darted on the forest floor and birds sang in the trees as I walked down the hill towards The Glen. I am not adept at identifying birds but have become much more aware

Just off Old Town Road, below the crossing of the White Creek, I spotted red trillium in the leaves. The first few clumps were budded, but not open, and as I continued to look I found more clusters, especially on the sunny slope, open, brilliant and beautiful. Back along Schenck Road I saw viola, Dutchmen’s breeches, spring beauty and what I think may have been miterwort, still tightly closed. No Jack-in-the-pulpit but I will continue to look for that as the season progresses. On my return journey, I walked down Lourie and McCormick trails through beautiful stands of trees with mountain views visible in the distance. I look forward to my weekly treks and the opportunity to enjoy what the forest here at Merck has to offer.

Thank You to Our 2011 Contributors Mr. and Mrs. Gordon & Dotty Ashton Fred & Judy Buechner Ms. Dinah Buechner-Vischer Barb & Charlie Casey Patrick & Phyllis Cavanagh Mr. and Mrs. James T. Cooney, Jr. Michael Depoy Kate Dollenmayer Debra Duvall Shirley Burchfield & Wes Fisher Michael Gardner Ira Goldenberg Mr. and Mrs. Mark & Colleen Grabb Heidi, Eric & Irene Hangen Janet & Leslie Brody Hurley Christine Koval Rich & Cathy Lawlor Mr. and Mrs. Stephen M. Lessing Colette Piasechi Masters Stephen & Tracey Mathyas TD & Judy McCormick Matthew McKeigan Bill Murphy & Colleen Moseman Susan & David Nichols Rodney Nicklaw Jayne Della Ratta Elise Redmond Elizabeth Runyon Mr. Brian Sabella Gerald & Tracey Sanchez Kerri Secrest Joseph & Sandra Silva Mr. Douglas A. Stewart John & Gail Suitor Wynn Ulysses Andy & Betsy Van Orden Vermont Country Store Reverend Janet Vincent Hannah & Russell Weeden Mr. Robert Whitney *Please forgive us for any errors or omissions; call our office with any corrections, 802.394.7836.

Now at the Visitor Center

Rah Earth Pottery painted by Roseanne Henning

Local artist, Roseanne Henning, recently painted her “Merck” ceramics Spring Edition. Every teapot, mug, platter, or tile is handpainted, and each piece carries its own unique design of one of the cabins, the sap house, or the farm. The nontoxic, earthenware pieces are dishwasher and microwave safe. Prices start at $16.00. Check out these beautiful ceramics on your next visit to Merck Forest.

Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy

Also available at the Visitor Center is Sharon Lovejoy’s interactive gardening book Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots ($13.95). Twelve fun activities inspire you and your family to create garden spaces in the backyard, this book is sure to get everyone’s hands in the soil this summer. Pick up your copy and get gardening!

page 7

About Us 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. Kathleen Achor

Bob Gasperetti

Judy Buechner

Bambi Hatch

Donald Campbell

Richard Hittle

Sue Ceglowski

Anne Houser

Ann Cosgrove

Emily Hunter

Ed Cotter

Ann Jackson

Bob Ferguson

Deirdre Kinney-Brennan

Photograph by Jennie Nichols

Advisory Council Jon Mathewson Axel Neubohn John Pless Liz Putnam Bob Taggart Patty Winpenny

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

Marlo Ward-Nichols came all the way from Seattle with her Moms to visit our newborn lambs. Visit us online:

Follow us on:

Staff Elaine Blodgett, Customer Service

Trent Stephens, Facilities Specialist

Melissa Carll, Education Apprentice

Dan Sullivan, Caretaker

Vance Griffith, Resource Technician

Sarah Ullman, Director of Education

Tim Hughes-Muse, Farm Programs Manager

Chris Wall, Trail Maintenance Coordinator

Kathryn Lawrence, Assistant to the Director

Tom Ward, Executive Director

Annette Nielsen, Communications Director

RidgeLine layout, illustrations, and graphic design by Melissa Carll

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

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 maintain over 3,100 acres of land and 36 miles of trails. Thank you for your help!



Please fill out and mail: Merck Forest & Farmland Center PO Box 86, Rupert, VT 05768 Date: Title: Name(s):

Additional Contribution:

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

Electronic Copy: Exp:

Email: Phone:


PO Box 86, Rupert, Vermont 05768

Printed on 100% recycled paper

Summer Events & Workshops

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

Nature Journaling

Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden

July14th, 9am-12pm

September 15th, 1pm-4pm

Draw, write, relax, and enjoy the landscape when you and your family come to this workshop. Melissa Carll, Education Apprentice, will demonstrate how to set up your own notebook, and different journaling techniques to record what you observe in nature.

Join former Skidmore professor and local mycologist, Sue Van Hook, for a hands-on workshop to make your own oyster, shiitake and wine cap spawn, bags and logs.

$5/person, $4/members

$35/person and $50/couples

Full Moon Hike

Sheep Dog Trials

August 31st, 7:30pm

September 8th and 9th, 9am-4pm

Join several of our staff members for a three mile hike under the New Corn Moon. The evening walk allows time to enjoy the sunset from the farm, and watch the moon rise during the hike.

Merck hosts the third leg of the Vermont Triple Crown of the Northeast Border Collie Association in late summer this year. Children’s games, food and craft vendors, and the sheep dog trials are a full day of fun for the family!


$5/adult and $3/12 &under, 4 & under FREE

Ridgeline Summer 2012  

MFFC's quarterly newsletter

Ridgeline Summer 2012  

MFFC's quarterly newsletter