Great Oak Farm
SVT and the Town of Berlin are working to conserve Great Oak Farm and make its trails open to the public.
To explore the property and learn more about the project, join us for a walk on the trails followed by refreshments. Hosted by landowners Steen and Carla Bentzen, SVT, and the Berlin Conservation Commission.
Saturday, November 4
10:00 a.m. to Noon
Free; registration required
Great Oak Farm consists of approximately 39 acres of forest and farmland in the northeast corner of Berlin. This once active organic vegetable farm was acquired in stages by its current owner, Steen Bentzen, who longed for the rolling fields of his native Denmark.
Steen has meticulously maintained this farm, which was once the largest organic strawberry operation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Why protect this land
Steen has retired from farming and now runs a horse boarding operation at Great Oak Farm, but he and his son want the farm to be protected and be actively farmed in perpetuity. Although the property is no longer used for cropland, it is in a prime location, proximate to many other protected and unprotected farms and agricultural amenities.
This farm is in an area of Massachusetts that has succeeded in remaining agricultural despite its high land values, and preserving Great Oak Farm will play a role in allowing that agricultural success to continue.
How we will protect this land
The Bentzen family would like to sell a Conservation Restriction (CR) as soon as possible in order to realize some income and avoid having to sell the property for development. They have graciously agreed to a bargain sale price of $500,000 for the CR, which has an appraised value of $746,000.
The Town has applied for a state grant of $280,000 toward the purchase of the CR. The remainder of the project costs will be covered by Berlin’s Conservation Fund, private fundraising, and grants. A closing is tentatively scheduled for February 2018.
Once the Town acquires the CR, the public will be able to access the land by way of a perimeter trail on the property. Public access will be included as a right in the CR. The trail head and parking area will sit on an abutting 1.2-acre parcel to be donated by the owner of Great Oak Farm to the Town.
The trail will be maintained by the Town and SVT. The public will be permitted to hike, run, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and horseback ride on the trail.
In addition to the perimeter trail, the pond can be available for skating in the winter, bow-hunting will be allowed by permission of the landowner, and horseback riding lessons are available on the property for a fee. Finally, this property will provide an asset to local school-aged children. A local educator, Hands on Nature, who provides outdoor education to home-schooled children in the area, will be able to make use of the agricultural amenities, water features, and forest on the property.