The 60 acre farm at Merck Forest and Farmland Center is managed using low-impact, ecologically-sensitive practices. The farm staff and apprentices strive to integrate the farm with the natural environment surrounding it. The farm is both a working landscape, and a "classroom" for many of the school groups that visit.
Animal Management Methods and Purpose
MFFC raises a variety of animals—draft horses, chickens, sheep, and pigs—for the farm-based education programs, and for market purposes.
All of the animals are pastured; the farm employs management intensive grazing (MIG), a form of grazing that allows the animals to forage in pasture and move to new grazing grounds several times a week. MIG increases the quality of the pastures while providing the most nutritious feed for the animals (see bottom of page for more information on MIG).
Since the animals are rotated frequently, they might not be in the same spot as they were the last time you visited. We therefore encourage you to explore the farm each time you visit!
Pork, lamb, and wool products are sold from the Visitor Center.
Produce: You-Pick Berries
The farm also offers visitors you-pick blueberries and raspberries. The berries grow during the summer months, and in the next coming seasons will we have blackberries and fall varieties. Call ahead to see if the berries are ripe, bring your own containers, or stop by the Visitor Center to borrow a pint or quart container. Berries are sold by the pound.
The Benefits of Management Intensive Grazing include:
- The frequent movement of animals from field to field minimizes grazing pressure on pasture grasses. The plants are healthier, more productive, and better able to compete with weed species;
- Fresh young grass contains higher protein levels and provides increased nutrition to the animals;
- Grass-fed animals have higher Omega 3 fatty acid content in muscle tissue, making it more heart-healthy for human consumers;
- Parasitic infestations are reduced, since their life cycles are interrupted by the constant rotation of animals in and out of pastures;
- Feed costs are greatly reduced, enabling MFFC to raise high quality meat at a lower cost.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Lamp