2009 Chapter Picnic, Orchard Tour and Home Tour

The Carolinas Chapter-The American Chestnut Foundation® held its 2009 Picnic,Orchard Tour and Home Tour on November 07. Allie Funk and Louis Acker hosted the event. Local musicians, Alfred and Amy Michaels, entertained attendees with mountain music and other selections. After lunch, Dr. Paul Sisco led a tour of the chestnut orchard located on Louis and Allie’s farm. Afterwards, Louis and Allie opened their home for touring. The home was started as a single room log cabin in 1870 and was added to over the next 20 years. It has hand hewn chestnut logs in the cabin and milled American chestnut boards paneling walls and ceilings in the rest of the home.

Louis and Allie hosted the 2009 Chapter picnic, Orchard Tour and Home Tour. Doug and Marsha arrived at Louis and Allie’s home the day before the event, spent the night in the Rose Room of their home, and Saturday morning helped set up for the picnic.

Forty-five people attended the event. Louis and Allie opened their home for a tour. The home began as a one room log cabin constructed in 1870 of American chestnut and poplar logs. The house was expanded during the next 20 years to include rooms paneled wall and ceiling with American chestnut wood. An album featuring the home can be viewed on this same “Photos” page. Look for “Acker-Funk Home_Extensive Use of American Chestnut Wood, August 29, 2009.”

Jon Taylor of Asheville, NC was in attendance and is a carpenter and crafter of fine musical instruments. Some of his work uses recycled American chestnut. Jon also helps other chapter members with the harvesting of chestnut burs and shucking them to harvest the nuts within.

The older trees in the orchard were inoculated in the summer of 2008 and the more blight resistant trees with good American characteristics have been retained for further breeding. This year, the Carolinas Chapter-TACF®, produced its first intercross nuts using trees moderately resistant to the blight. A third backcross tree (BC3F1) in the orchard served as the female parent. A tall growing, moderately resistant third backcross chestnut tree (BC3F1) located in a Chapter orchard in Haywood County provided the male pollen for the intercross. Trees grown from the intercrossed (BC3F2) nuts are expected to have good blight resistance characteristics derived from the Chinese parents of the initial cross to American chestnut trees (F1). An article about the production of the BC3F2 nuts can be found in the Fall 2009 Chestnut Mast newsletter, available under the “Resources and Current Newsletters” tabs of the Carolinas Chapter section of this website.

Chestnut blight fungus was implanted in a hybrid Chestnut orchard tree in 2008.  The blight fungus grew under the bark until contained by cankerous growth, a defense mechanism to the blight imparted by the original Chinese parent tree. Two inoculation points were made in the upper trunk where a weak strain of the blight fungus was implanted. Lower on the trunk are two additional inoculation points where a strong strain of the blight fungus was implanted. Inoculated trees which resist both strains of blight well are desirable trees for further breeding. The moderately resistant tree pictured was saved for that purpose. An album featuring the inoculation and rating of trees in the orchard can be viewed on this same “Photos” page. Look for the album entitled, “Acker-Funk Orchard Inoculation and Rating, November 8, 2009.”

Crafts by Walnut Hill Crafts, Inc. of Grassy Creek, NC were available at the picnic.  Workers at Walnut Hill Crafts also produced American chestnut wood vases displayed at the Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center located at Mile Post 384 in Asheville, NC. An album about the American chestnut display featured at the Destination Center can be viewed on this same “Photos” page. Look for the album entitled “New American Chestnut Exhibit, March 16, 2008.”

The essence of the event held November 7, 2009 at Louis and Allie’s farm can be seen in the batik art work pictured below which is displayed on the wall of one of the rooms of their home. Martha Tree produced the batik. It shows human figures as the roots below the stump of a blighted chestnut tree pushing up a new sprout which carries with it hopes for a better future. The work of The American Chestnut Foundation® and its scientist, researchers, interns, orchard growers, volunteers, state chapter members and donors provide the human effort which has helped and will continue to help the American chestnut recreate itself so it might flourish again in the Eastern forests as a dominant tree.