The American Chestnut Foundation
Legacy Tree

Finally, here’s what we’ve been waiting for, our first seed orchard.

It began with a dream – that the American chestnut could be restored to our nation’s forest. Now that dream is taking root in The American Chestnut Foundation’s (TACF) first Legacy Tree seed orchard. We need your help to make it grow.

More than a century ago, the arrival of a deadly pathogen from Asia cost us one of the grandest trees ever to grace our eastern forests, the American chestnut. Within 50 years the chestnut blight killed 3 to 4 billion American chestnut trees, obliterated an entire ecosystem dependent on the tree’s bounty, and stilled an economic engine on which Appalachia had run for decades.

By chance, in the early 1980’s, Charles Burnham looked at decades-old data in a new way and realized that proper application of backcross breeding might bring back the chestnut. TACF was founded to pursue this new approach. Slowly and steadily, using nature’s own methods, scientific discipline has brought the chestnut to the threshold of revival.

At our research farms in Meadowview, Virginia this fall Dr. Fred Hebard, TACF’s lead scientist, will select the first 200 most blight-resistant 4-year-old candidate trees from over 30,000 seeds. These special trees are the sixth generation of research work, the result of 25 years of backcross breeding. They are approximately 15/16 American chestnut and 1/16 Chinese chestnut. In a few years, seeds from this legacy tree orchard will be planted throughout the former chestnut range.

This is only the beginning of our restoration efforts. Scientific rigor, diligent support from all our state chapters, and a lot of patience will bring our breeding strategy to fruition over the next 100 years.

You can help support the Legacy Tree Orchard two ways:

1) Sponsor your individual Legacy Tree. Sponsorship of a Legacy Tree is $10,000. We encourage a one-time donation in full, although you may also pay $2,500 down, and three additional annual installments of $2,500. (If you prefer the $2,500 down and three more installments please contact TACF for the form to fill out and mail back. Your individual Legacy Tree will bear a plaque with your name, a testimony to your role in restoring an integral part of America’s natural history. As part of this legacy community, you will receive yearly updates on the progress of your individual tree and TACF’s on-going restoration of our beloved chestnut to its native range. You will be an honored guest whenever you visit Meadowview, where you can see your tree, take photos to mark its progress, and witness a whole community of chestnut trees giving shape to a more hopeful future. Legacy Tree Sponsors will have opportunity to recieve seed from this orchard for testing and evaluation. For 2013, Legacy Tree Sponsors may recieve 22 of these seeds, potentially our most blight-resistant to date.

2) Sponsor a TACF Chapter Legacy Tree. Sponsorship of a Legacy Tree for a state chapter is a $500 minimum donation. Once the chapter has reached the $10,000 in donations, it will be taken off the available tree to sponsor list. Once a state chapter has reached its goal a plaque will be made that will bear the sponsored chapter and these words, "Group Sponsored Tree." All nut distribution from this tree will be sole responsibility of the chapter's officers. This is a great way to show not only your support to TACF but to your future and the future of those you love.

Status of chapter sponsorship - Click here

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