Great Oak Farm
SVT and the Town of Berlin have successfully conserved Great Oak Farm with a co-held Conservation Restriction! SVT opened the perimeter trail to the public in November 2018.
Thank you to the Bentzen family for their generosity, to Beezy Bentzen for managing this project for her family, to the Town of Berlin for their tireless support of conservation, to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for their financial support, and to the many individuals who donated funds to this project.
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 leases the property out to a horse boarding operation, but he and his son want the farm to be protected and to 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
Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Town of Berlin have protected this spectacular property with a co-held CR. The Bentzen family sold the CR at a bargain sale price of $500,000, which had an appraised value of $825,000.
The Town received a state grant of $287,000 toward the purchase of the CR. The remainder of the project costs were covered by Berlin’s Conservation Fund, private fundraising, and grants.
The property will continue to be privately owned by the Bentzen family, and the CR will be monitored annually by SVT and the Town of Berlin.
The public will be able to access the land by way of a perimeter trail on the property, opening in November 2018. The trail head and parking area will sit on an abutting 1.2-acre parcel that was donated to the Town of Berlin by the Bentzens.
The trail will be maintained by the Town and SVT. Hiking, running, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are allowed on the trail, but dogs are not permitted on the property due to the potential issues with the horses and riding lessons on the property.
Thank you to everyone who donated to this project!