EVERGREEN MAGAZINE FEATURED ARTICLE

Beyond John Sanderson’s Farm

Jim Petersen reflects on a 1966 essay from Hugh Raup, former director of Harvard Forest.

Jim Petersen -
6 MINUTE READ
Beyond John Sanderson’s Farm

Earlier this week I stumbled across Hugh Raup’s boat rocking essay, “The View from John Sanderson’s Farm,” published in the Journal of Forest History in 1966. Raup, a PhD botanist and geomorphologist, was director of the Harvard Forest from 1946 to 1967.

Raup’s life, Sanderson’s farm at Petersham, Massachusetts and the 3,000-acre Harvard University forest, form the intersection at which forestry, conservation and preservation are discussed and debated by their respective advocates. It is one of the oldest research forests in the nation. Founded in 1908, the forest includes the legendary farm, which dates from the early 1800s.

Raup presented his controversial essay at a 1964 natural resources conference sponsored by the Ford Foundation. That same year, the British Journal of Animal Ecology published another of Raup’s boat rockers, “Some Problems in Ecological Theory and Their Relation to Conservation.”

The two essays secured Raup’s reputation as a heretic in Harvard’s cloistered environs. “Out of all this I found that I could never again be a ‘good’ ecologist. A prominent practitioner in this field told me one time that I should not be allowed to teach,” he wrote in a 1979 letter that anchors Forests in the Here and Now, a collection of his essays assembled by Ben Stout, a PhD forest ecologist, great friend and former dean of the…


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