NH State Forest Nursery


A Brief History

The New Hampshire State Forest Nursery was established in 1910 by authority of the New Hampshire Forestry Commission on a small parcel of land in Pembroke, NH for raising white pine seedlings. At that time, much land in the state was cutover, burned or otherwise affected needing reforestation or other improvement.

The purpose of establishing the State Forest Nursery was threefold:

  • "to supply demand for planting stock"
  • "to take up a cooperative planting system with towns and private landowners"
  • "supply native tree seedlings to avoid importing possibly diseased out-of-state trees"
early photo of pembroke nursery

Pembroke Nursery, 1910

early photo of white pine seed beds

White Pine Seed Beds, 1911

early photo of gerrish depot, boscawen

Gerrish Depot, Boscawen, 1912

Fifty thousand (50,000) seedlings were sold the first year at $3.00 per thousand. Demand was for 200,000 seedlings that first year.

In 1911, about 1.5 acres, a house and barn were leased transferring nursery operations to Boscawen, NH. About 250,000 seedlings were distributed from this new location each year, 80 percent of which were transplants redistributed from commercial nurseries outside the state.

In 1914, a larger acreage was purchased in the vicinity of the leased operations and 717,000 seedlings were produced and distributed from the Nursery that year.

In 1914, Nursery operating expenses were $2,200, slightly below the State Forester's salary of $2,500. Seedling sales brought in $1,700 or about 75 percent of operating costs.

During 89 years of operation since 1911, just under 76,000,000 seedlings have been distributed from the Nursery averaging about 850,000 seedlings per year. Highest production year was in 1959 of 4,000,000 seedlings during the second year of the federal soil bank program. Lowest production was 143,000 seedlings in 1944 as a result of low demand following World War II. White pine has been 31 percent of seedling distribution since Nursery establishment followed by white spruce (22 percent), red pine (19 percent), balsam fir (17 percent), and Scotch pine (4 percent).

early photo of nursery crew

Pembroke Nursery, 1910

early photo of seedling beds

Looking North at State Forest Nursery, 1926

map showing current seed beds

Map of Current Nursery Layout

In 1982, the State Forest Nursery was jeopardized by legislative termination but re-instated with the intent of becoming self-sufficient. Legislative Sunset Review in 1984 reaffirmed the need for the State Forest Nursery as did the Society of American Foresters, Granite State Chapter in 1982. The Nursery's operating budget was increased by the NH Legislature in 1985 for needed improvements and operating costs.

Today, as a result of continued support by the NH Legislature, cooperators and others, and improved management operations and seedling quality, the Nursery is carrying out it's mission, and revenue from seedling sales covers Nursery operating costs.

NH State Forest Nursery | Division of Forests and Lands
Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
172 Pembroke Road, Concord, NH 03301
(603) 796-2323  |  fax: (603) 271-6488