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 Friends of the Charity Farm Lot

       In 1832, Job Goodale gifted the Charity Farm Lot to the Town of Bernardston, Massachusetts, as a source of income to "assist the industrious and deserving poor."
     Since then, this 84.64-acre site, which includes open space, a variety of natural features, and a trace of history, had been largely ignored. More recently, however, a group of local residents and town leaders have come to recognize the Charity Farm Lot as a gem worthy of renewed focus as part of a larger plan that recognizes the many benefits that well-preserved open space has to offer: health, recreation, community pride, and a boost to the town's economy.
     Friends of the Charity Farm Lot is an intergenerational group of people interested in a unique parcel of open space. We are a recognized committee of the Bernardston Selectboard.
    We hope that you will continue to visit our page to find out more about what the Charity Farm Lot can offer you and you family. We also invite you to consider ways that you might become involved in  its restoration and use.

               Email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

               Find us on Facebook: 

               Friends of the Charity Farm Lot:

                       John Lepore: (413) 512-0644

                       Bill Montiglio (413) 824-1004

                       Kathy Montiglio (413) 772-9103


Our parking area has a new surface!

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Many thanks to the Bernardston Highway Department and Selectboard for the great job of resurfacing our parking area. It was the idea of Brian Miner, who leads the department, and he saw it through from start to finish. The Selectboard was eager to approve the improvement.
    The new hardpack surface is composed of the same, recycled material used to maintain the town's unpaved roadways. Gone are the days of deep muddy ruts and the risk of trapped vehicles.
     We hope you'll enjoy your next visit that much more!


Visitors' Log available at the kiosk

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We love to know who's visiting the Charity Farm Lot, where you're from, and what your experiences are like.
     For this reason, John Lepore created a Visitor's Log desk for our kiosk with a notebook and pencils right inside. It's made of chestnut oak harvested from the hills of Bernardston, and he did a beautiful job. Please feel welcome to share your thoughts before or after your visits.
      In this photo, Merton Fisher from Bernardston finished his walk just as we were putting the finishing touches on the installation, and he agreed to make the first entry. 

Stop by the kiosk

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We have a beautiful, new map, created by John Lepore, with printed copies inside the box, along with other information we hope that you will stop by and see. A downloadable map, along with information on how to find us, can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of our page. Enjoy!


Memories of winter: A chilly, but beautiful day after the storm

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Bernardston Fire Department holds rescue drill


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Many thanks to the officers and members of Bernardston Fire Department who dedicated a weekly training session to a simulated rescue/extraction from the glacial rockslide along the Talus Trail.
Chief Peter Shedd commented: "It was a good opportunity for the members to become more familiar with the property, and we want to be ready for any incidents that might take place."
The training, which was led by the officers, involved use of the department's specialized rescue equipment.

A place of honor

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We hope you like our new welcome sign that greets our visitors. The original has been moved its new retirement home inside the parking lot. We're proud of the Charity Farm Lot's heritage, and we hope that our latest project helps to reflect this.


Check out the parking lot!

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It's been a busy summer at the Charity Farm Lot parking lot with the addition of features that we hope will make things more enjoyable for our visitors
     Many thanks to Brian Miner and Will Pratt from the Bernardston Highway Department for their enthusiasm and expertise. They sure gave the volunteers, who aren't getting any younger, a break with the digging and lifting, and they helped us complete the projects well ahead of schedule.
     We're happy to say that our new entrance sign and kiosk materials were funded through the state grant at no cost to the town.
   The original sign will soon have a place of honor in the parking lot, and we have some useful materials in mind for the kiosk.
     Please let us know what you think.


Repaired trails will be vulnerable for a while

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At long last and with help of a state grant, a local contractor did an outstanding job repairing the severe erosion all along the Main Trail, which made it nearly impassible.
They fixed even more than we had hoped and came in well under budget. The new drainage and other features left us in good shape after a wet winter and early spring.
Please note, however, that the repaired areas are still vulnerable, especially anytime they are wet and muddy.
The same is true for the part of the View Trail that was restored earlier.
Please use caution in these places and others, especially whenever the trails soft and wet, to avoid re-starting the erosion that we worked so hard to eliminate. Please follow the advisory signs, which we will update as soon as it becomes possible.

If you see something, say something:

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Overall, we have been very fortunate with the ways that people are treating this great resource, which, as town property, belongs to all of us. Visitors are increasing, and feedback has been very positive. Most people treat the property well, and problems have been rare.

Recently, however, our parking lot has become a dumping ground for brush, leaves, and other yard waste. We found the remnants of a campfire at the The View, and someone appears to have taken an ax to a sapling and left it right there. This is not cool, and it could lead to more serious problems.

If you are one of the individuals involved, please stop. If you see any abuse of the property, please let us know or contact the Bernardston Police. Dates, times, descriptions, license numbers, and photographs will be especially welcome.

When is a trail not a trail?
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There's an old logging road that runs parallel with and just west of the view trail. It's steep and covered with loose, unstable rocks that make for very hazardous conditions.
We received a report that a horse and rider slid downhill about 15 feet before regaining control, narrowly avoiding a serious accident.  It's an easy place for a hiker to turn an ankle, and there's nothing special to see or enjoy. For these reasons, we created barriers made from logs and saplings, on on each end of the section, to discourage visitors from using it.
We want you to have fun. We want you to stay safe.

New Wayfinding Signage 

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New signage, designed to help you find your way around and to make your way back to the parking lot is in place at key locations throughout the property. This effort was coordinated by your volunteers and funded through a state trails grant. 

Dogs at the Charity Farm Lot

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 A friendly reminder to our visitors: Dogs are welcome at the Charity Farm Lot. Please remember that the Town of Bernardston does have a leash law. We ask that you keep your animals under control at all times and remember to clean up any poop. Thank you.


Please Protect Our Vulnerable Areas


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As mentioned earlier, state grant funding was used to repair the lower section of the View Trail, which had early signs of erosion that could only lead to further damage as seen elsewhere on the Charity Farm Lot..
     Unfortunately, someone rode an ATV through the repaired areas while the ground was soft and wet, causing ruts that could lead to a return of the erosion problem. It could have been an innocent mistake, since the trails were covered with fallen leaves.
     For this reason, we've placed signs and ask our visitors to keep motorized vehicles away from the lower half of the View Trail. We also ask you to refrain from using any motorized vehicles anywhere on the property whenever the ground is soft and wet.


The Resting Forest

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Invasion of the Invasive Snatchers

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Besides giving our April 14 restorative work party a cool name, Jean Page busted her behind and even served us cookies when we finished. In this photo, Jean and John begin to work their magic on an invasive barberry. Thanks a million, Jean!   


For the First-time visitor:

The Charity Farm Lot is located at 327 Bald Mountain Road, Bernardston, MA. Please note, however, that setting electronic navigation software may only put you in the general vicinity. The property is 0.4 miles north of the intersection of Bald Mountain and Burke Flat roads and marked with a large sign that bears our logo. There is off-road parking for several vehicles.


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Please click here for downloadable/printable trail map 


Seen along the Talus Trail:


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Trail Report

Trails are marked with colored, metal disks with arrows nailed to trees. You can generally stand in the vicinity of one tag and see the next one. Please note that double tags indicate a turn in the trail. One ambiguous spot on the Talus Trail has a wooden sign close to the ground that indicates an important turn.

Please be aware that marked trails sometimes deviate away from wider sections in order to bring you to good things to see.

Remember that, if ever in doubt, the noise of Route 91 will lead you downhill to Bald Mountain Road.

The Main Trail, which begins at the northeast corner of the Parking Lot has been completely marked with red disks. It is a straight-line trail that runs from our western border uphill to the eastern border. The eastern border is marked with sign.

The Talus Trail, which begins at the southeast corner of the Parking Lot has been marked with green disks. It extends to where it connects with the Main Trail near the Charity Farm Lot’s eastern border.

The Vista View Trail is a loop marked with orange disks. Visitors will find a great view near its midpoint. It has two trailheads, about two-tenths of a mile from one another on the north side of the Main Trail (left side looking uphill). The upper trailhead is a stone’s throw from our eastern border and the Talus Trail head.

Have fun, be safe!


Erosion and invasive species

Erosion and invasive plant species pose the greatest environmental risks to the Charity Farm Lot and the surrounding ecosystem. Key areas have been identified, and help with trail maintenance and remediation of invasives, which are ongoing efforts.  A portion of our state trails grant has funded remediation that required professional assistance.