Merck Forest and Farmland Center is a non-profit educational organization located in the Taconic Mountains of southwestern Vermont. The Center’s mission is the sustainable management of its forest, the promotion of innovative agricultural practices on its upland farm, the education of local students in outdoor exploration and the study of natural sciences, and the creation of unparalleled recreational opportunities for individuals, families and school groups.
Originally founded in 1950 as the Vermont Forest and Farmland Foundation on land donated by George W. Merck, the property has grown to nearly 3200 acres, with a 33-acre sugarbush, a 62-acre farm, over thirty miles of trails, and nine backcountry cabins. The Center has worked in partnership with the Vermont Land Trust and the New England Forestry Foundation to permanently conserve 3107 acres. The formal conservation of the land ensures that Merck Forest’s long tradition of land stewardship, education and recreation will be continued in perpetuity. Along with abutting conserved parcels, the easements create a large, unbroken forest block for travel corridors and an expansive area for larger wild animals to roam and flourish.
Educational programs at Merck are offered to the public at nominal fees or for free. These offerings are designed to enable participants to connect with MFFC’s farm and forest through meaningful experiences with a working landscape. An active apprenticeship program trains new generations of farmers to address the changing demands of agriculture. The farm produces pork and lamb for sale, from animals that are pasture-raised and rotationally grazed.
Merck Forest and Farmland Center is a popular recreational destination year-round for local residents and tourists, who visit the farm, and who venture into the forest to hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski, ride horseback, stay in rugged backcountry cabins, or (in season) hunt game. The property is open free to the public daily, from dawn to dusk, year-round.