American Chestnut Trees

An American Tradition

Did you know that American chestnuts (Castanea dentata) comprised nearly 25% of eastern North American forests in the early 1900s? Their range extended from Maine to Florida and west to Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi. American chestnut trees could grow 100 feet tall and live almost 600 years. When the winter holidays approached, Appalachian families would ship train-fulls of nuts to east coast cities where the would be sold—perfect for roasting over the fire on a cold winter night.

The End of A Reign

The beginning of the end: 1904. An invasive fungus, later called the American chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica), was introduced via imported Oriental chestnuts and attacked chestnut trees in New York City. By 1910, American chestnuts in Pennsylvania were dying and it is estimated the blight was moving south at a rate of fifty miles a year. The American chestnut tree population was decimated by 1950. All that survived were the root systems of once grand trees and the root sprouts they produced that, again, quickly succumb to the blight.
The Restoration of Our Woodlands

The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and the American Chestnut Cooperators’ Foundation (ACCF) were created after the disaster to reestablish the American chestnut. Both groups are researching methods to inhibit the blight and are developing blight-resistant American chestnuts.

Our Farm

We support the visions of the ACCF and TACF. We are a member of Maryland TACF chapter and are a ACCF Cooperating Grower. Last year, we planted a number of seedlings on the property and are nurturing this year’s seedlings in pots.

It may seem strange to name such a large piece of land after a tree we can currently hold in the palm of our hand. But remember, we’re dreamers. The farm is named for the future. The hope that our great-grandchildren and generations to come can see the flowering American Chestnut gracing our land—blight-free.

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