Stop C2

Closure of the Farm

January 10, 2022

Today, you likely see water in the former plots – that water is what makes muck soils different and good for farming – but it also makes them difficult to farm. Remember, these are marshes, so to farm muck, the water has to be removed or it will drown the plant roots. The ditches we are walking around today were created for this purpose, and the small buildings you see in the marsh are pump houses. The pumps were used to move the water from the marsh to the ditches so the soil could dry. This modification of the land allowed for farming and research to take place and contributed to better understanding about how to grow vegetables in these kinds of areas around the state and beyond.

As the water removal continued, the muck began to shrink and disappear over time, this is known as subsidence. This subsidence, in addition to heavier rain events that have been occurring in recent years, led to more frequent and longer lasting flood events at the farm that would often damage or kill the crops. Eventually these events changed the landscape and limited the research opportunities at the farm.

In addition to increased flooding on the landscape, general interest in muck soil research declined across the state, ultimately resulting in The Muck Farm’s closure in 2012 – after 70 years as a research farm.

As farm operations ended, active management of the landscape stopped, and the site began to transition. Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that not long ago this was all crops. Now let’s head out of the former farm plots and take a look from outside the old fence line.