Georgia News

So you want to plant some chestnuts?

We’re happy to be hearing from so many folks like you who are interested in planting chestnuts on their property.  We’ve received a lot of requests for chestnut seedlings and that’s good news, since it indicates a high level of interest in restoring American chestnut to our forests.  But we need to make everyone aware of the status of our program as well as our capacity to involve private landowners in it.

First and foremost, we’re not quite “there” yet in our disease resistance program. Our current and future efforts are experimental and will most likely continue to be so for many years. Neither the Georgia chapter nor our parent organization can guarantee disease resistance in seeds or seedlings we release to landowners like you, and we currently cannot commit to a timeline for that guarantee.   That boils down to a strong chance that many trees we have today may not carry sufficient disease resistance, so most likely will not live to become the “mighty giants” all hope and dream about.  While we are making great progress, the science of conquering chestnut diseases definitely takes time.

The Georgia chapter has worked with over 200 landowners in projects ranging from small demonstration and/or educational plantings of only a few trees all the way up to large experimental orchards with thousands of trees.  Chapter volunteers help landowners get started then turn the project over to the landowner for long-term maintenance and upkeep.  We want these partnerships with landowners to be successful but given that we are an all-volunteer organization with limited resources and funding, we are finding the need for a temporary moratorium on the development of new orchard projects so we can make sure our current projects are as successful as they can be.

That said, we certainly do not want to dissuade anyone from learning more about ways to get involved. Here are some things we ask of anyone interested in planting chestnuts on our behalf:

1) You must maintain membership in TACF (when you join the national organization you automatically become a state chapter member). In fact, it’s best to become a member for a few years, volunteer at a few events, and take time to learn more about our program before offering to plant trees on your property. See https://support.acf.org/membership

2) Basic information about your site should be submitted to the GA-TACF Science Coordinator at gachapter@acf.org, ideally via the submission of a “Potential Orchard Steward” form that can be provided. This survey lists the types of orchard projects that GA-TACF tries to support, along with expectations about each planting type.

3) A reasonably well designed, long-term orchard stewardship plan should be developed with assistance from the GA-TACF Science Coordinator.  If the planting is simply a small demo/educational project, then an informal plan may be developed with our Demo Orchard Manager.

4) If planting hybrid trees emanating from the TACF breeding program, landowners must sign and submit a germplasm agreement to TACF’s Asheville, NC office (also available by e-mailing gachapter@acf.org)

Whenever possible, GA-TACF tries to assist landowners with up-front materials, supplies, and seeds or seedlings.  Given that we are funded solely by dues and donations, helping defray these start-up costs is another great way to help our chapter. Beyond that, the primary responsibility for long-term orchard maintenance and care must be left to the individual landowner.  With no paid staff and small state membership, we do not have the capacity to maintain orchards for landowners.

If you want to plant a few trees on your property please note TACF has a “Seed Level” membership program https://support.acf.org/membership/new-seed-level that provides advanced hybrid seeds to donor members.  Also, members are eligible to purchase pure American chestnut seedlings during TACF’s annual sale (see https://support.acf.org/wild-type-american-chestnuts).

Finally, besides planting trees on our behalf, there are many other ways GA-TACF members can help our program, including helping find wild American chestnut trees, collecting scion wood for grafting, assisting with maintenance at already established orchard sites, helping recruit new members, volunteering for community outreach events, etc.  While COVID limitations have led to a decrease in large group activities, public outreach/educational/social events and in-person meetings, we very much hope to resume these the future.

Thanks so much for your interest and support in the Georgia chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.

Sincerely,

Kathy Patrick

GA-TACF President

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If you live anywhere near Blairsville GA, we want to give you a heads up about a planting event On Tuesday Feb. 14, we plan to plant 20 pure American chestnut seedlings at a new site at the UGA Mountain Research and Education Center (GMREC). We are looking for a few folks to help out (not hard at all) and to potentially help look after the seedlings occasionally after planting. GMREC has a staff and local volunteer group, but it's always nice to have our GA-TACF members and others involved in such things. In any case, if you think you could help out, please let us know at gachestnut@gmail.com and we will put you on our shortlist of volunteers for that site. The alternate date will be March 2. ... See MoreSee Less

If you live anywhere near Blairsville GA, we want to give you a heads up about a planting event  On Tuesday Feb. 14, we plan to plant 20 pure American chestnut seedlings at a new site at the UGA Mountain Research and Education Center (GMREC).  We are looking for a few folks to help out (not hard at all) and to potentially help look after the seedlings occasionally after planting.  GMREC has a staff and local volunteer group, but its always nice to have our GA-TACF members and others involved in such things.  In any case, if you think you could help out, please let us know at gachestnut@gmail.com and we will put you on our shortlist of volunteers for that site. The alternate date will be March 2.

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What time will you start? I live a couple of hours away and might not be able to make an early start (plus, with Georgia weather, it might decide to snow that day).

Volunteers needed at the Flint orchard in Waleska this Friday Jan. 13!

This is a short notice request. Our new chestnut planting at the Flint orchard has come under attack from wild hogs. Our existing deer fence was not up to the task, so we are going to add some more robust wire fencing. We need about three sturdy helpers to help install the wire. We will meet at 10AM at the work shed area and car pool to the orchard site. Directions are below. Bring gloves, a snack if desired, appropriate clothing and footwear for the orchard, it may be muddy. We'll provide water, materials, and tools. Please let me know if you are able to assist.
Jack Rogers
GATACF Chapter President gachestnut@gmail.com

Directions to the site (Austin Flint Farm):
From Waleska, GA, home of Reinhardt University.
1) Head north on Rt. 108 (Fincher Road).
2) In about ¾ mile, turn left onto Pleasant Arbor Road.
3) In a ¼ mile, turn right onto Puckett Road.
4) In another ¾ mile, turn left onto Noah Road (at a bend in the road).
5) In about 250 yds, stay left on Noah Road at a fork.
6) Continue downhill to cross a bridge over a small stream and bypass a small home on the left. Continue up the hill, look for a barn and some work sheds on the right. Volunteers and/or signage will direct you to the orchard location from that point.
... See MoreSee Less

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Dr. John French gives an on-the-spot lecture prior to the fence-fixing crew's work. Thanks so much for the help!! Photo courtesy of Tom Taylor.

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