The farm at Merck Forest and Farmland Center is managed with low impact, ecologically sensitive practices. We strive to integrate natural systems and the environment into our decision making.
The sixty acre farm at Merck Forest and Farmland Center consists mainly of pasture and hay fields where we raise sheep for meat and wool, pigs for meat and chickens for egg production. All of our animals are pastured, allowing us to employ management intensive grazing (MIG). MIG is a form of grazing that employs the animals to forage in high densities and move often. This naturally increases the quality of the pastures while providing the most nutritious feed.
Benefits of MIG include:
- Increased nutrition to animals, young grasses contain higher amounts of protein;
- Decreased pressure on pasture grasses, making the plants healthier and more productive over time;
- Grass-fed animals have higher Omega 3 content in meat, making it more heart-healthy for us to eat;
- Healthier pasture crops are better able to compete with weed species;
- Decrease in parasites as animals are not confined to the same area over extended periods of time;
- Greatly lowers feed costs, allowing us to raise high quality meat at a lower cost.
We rotate our animals on a daily basis so they might not be in the same spot as they were the last time you visited. We therefore encourage you to explore the farm! Not only will you get a chance to see our farm animals, you may also get a glimpse of the many wild animals that share the land. Due to the diverse wildlife habitat surrounding the farm, you may spot several different species of birds, mammals, insects and amphibians including: red tail hawks, wild turkeys, American kestrels, whitetail deer, coyotes, bears, monarch butterflies, honeybees, wood frogs and American toads. Come visit us and see what else you can spot on the farm.
Along with our livestock we also grow fruit and vegetables. Most of the marketable crops we focus on are perennials, or plants that grow back year after year. We have you-pick blueberries and raspberries, apples, pears, asparagus, rhubarb and many herbs. Merck is also known for some annuals, like its delicious garlic. Our crop management utilizes the same principles as our livestock and focuses on natural cycles and low or no-till agriculture. The intimate connections between crops, livestock, wildlife and nature are crucial to our success growing healthy organic food.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Lamp