Stony Brook Road and Dam, Pratt Farm,
photograph by Mike Maddigan, December 27, 2004
Not to be forgotten, however, are the educational uses to which the farm with its rich variety of flora and fauna might be put, including providing a deeper understanding of the area’s natural history and environmental changes (such as forest succession) over time.
In 1881, Paul Chadbourne, president of Williams College, entreated Massachusetts farmers to consider the educational value of the commonwealth’s farms.
It is superfluous, perhaps, for me to say more about the education of your children; but let me beseech you not to educate off the farm. After the simplest rudiments of reading, spelling, and arithmetic, and even with those, see that your children are taught to study nature, to delight in plants and animals and stones and chemical changes, - all the things that daily meet them on the farm…. The farm furnishes the whole range of plants and animal life upon which one can spend a lifetime of study.
Chadbourne’s appeal is no less meaningful one hundred and thirty years later.
In addition to being an instrument for a more meaningful understanding of local natural history, the Pratt Farm encompasses within its boundaries the capacity to provide insight into Middleborough’s cultural history, particularly in regards to pre-contact era Native American history and the town’s agricultural development over a two hundred year period from the mid-eighteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. What truly makes the Pratt Farm an invaluable community resource is this precise conjunction of natural and cultural history, with recreational and conservation uses.