Restoration of the American Chestnut Tree Project
One of the things that we are excited about with our new farm is that there is a one acre American Chestnut tree orchard on our property. We are working with the Maryland Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation in planting and caring for the orchard. The end of March our family helped plant 240 chestnut seeds in the orchard. Most of the seeds have sprouted and are growing nicely. These trees will be used to develop a blight resistant American chestnut.
Around 1904 a blight was introduced into the US that ultimately destroyed almost all of the American chestnut trees. The mighty American Chestnut tree, which made up a significant percentage of the woodlands here in the east, produced an abundance of nuts which a large variety of wildlife depended on for their food source. When the American chestnut disappeared from the forests, so did a lot of wildlife. The wood of the American chestnut has rot resistance similar to redwood, and in addition it is also a beautiful wood that can be used for fine woodworking and cabinets.
To develop a blight resistant American chestnut tree the American Chestnut Foundation has back-crossed the American chestnut with a blight resistant Chinese chestnut. This is done a number of times, until an almost pure American Chestnut tree is produced. The American Chestnut Foundation has quite a few American chestnut orchards throughout the Appalachians. The goal is to produce a number of different lines of blight resistant American chestnuts to provide genetic diversity.
For more info about the American chestnut project and how you can become involved see: