A century and a half ago, most of Vermont’s forests were open fields, including the farmsteads in Rupert which would become Merck Forest & Farmland. The remaining forests were managed as short-term woodlots, and decades-old agricultural practices were slowly degrading soil fertility, and harming natural resources and wildlife populations. Today, the farm is both a working landscape and a field classroom for school groups. Our farm staff and apprentices use low-impact, ecologically-sensitive practices in order to integrate the 60-acre farm with the natural environment. The animals — pigs, sheep, chickens and horses — are raised according to the highest standards of humane animal management. The grounds are open to the public for free, every day, year-round.
Take a hike — ride a horse — ski or snowshoe — in the diverse landscapes of the Taconic Hills. Over 30 miles of well-marked trails are available. Please check in and out at the kiosk located near the Visitor Center. Remember that cellphone and GPS services are unreliable around the property. TRAIL MAPS
Seasonal Berry Picking
The farm offers pick-your-own blueberries and raspberries during the summer and into the fall (as the season allows). You-Pick hours are 9am – 3:30pm during the season. Berries are sold by the pound. Bring your own containers or stop by the Visitor Center to borrow a pint or quart container. Call ahead for berry availability
Forest Management at MFFC
Most of Vermont’s modern forests were open fields a century ago, when agriculture dominated land use.
George Merck began acquiring land parcels in the 1940s to establish a private preserve for his family’s recreation. His interest in arboriculture and professional forest management led him to establish the Vermont Forest and Farmland Foundation in 1952 — one of the first land management experiments in the United States.
Well managed forests remove impurities from water, recharge aquifers, and store enormous amounts of carbon.
Forestry operations enhance habitat and forage opportunities, improving biodiversity and the stability of wildlife populations.