Orchard Tour – Edneyville, NC

November 10, 2007

Carolinas Chapter members and guests were treated to a catered bar-be-cue lunch served in the Pryor’s home, recently built at their farm in Edneyville. A tour of the orchard was conducted by Dr. Paul Sisco, Regional Science Coordinator for The American Chestnut Foundation. Members and guests helped remove plastic mulch from around orchard trees. Everyone was treated to hot roasted, European chestnuts cooked to perfection by the Gantenbeins of Asheville, NC

Back-crossed chestnuts were first planted in the orchard in the spring of 2005. The orchard is located where apple trees use to grow. Nancy’s father Will Hill owned the farm and grew apples there. Scott’s 96 year-old father remembers chestnuts in their heyday in western NC and looks forward to seeing chestnut trees bloom in the mountains again.

Chapter members and guests toured the Pryor’s home before lunch.  The fall decorations, set out on each table, transformed the garage of the Pryor’s home into a welcoming dining room. The apples that were part of the decorations came from a local grower in Edneyville and were given to those who had come to tour the orchard and help tend to it after lunch.

After lunch, Dr. Paul Sisco, Regional Science Coordinator for The American Chestnut Foundation, led the tour of the orchard where they saw an American chestnut planted as a control tree. Later, when trees in the orchard are inoculated with two strains of the chestnut blight fungus, it is expected that the pure American chestnut tree will be susceptible to both inoculations. Pure Chinese chestnut trees also have been planted in the orchard as control trees, and when inoculated are expected to display good resistance to the fungus. Hybrid chestnut trees in the orchard are expected to show different degrees of resistance, and those displaying the best resistance and also showing good American chestnut characteristics will be used for further back-cross pollination.

Guests helped tend the orchard after the tour and black plastic mulch placed in rows when nuts were planted was removed, bagged, and disposed of.  Removing the mulch will make it easier for hawks and owls to find voles which may chew the roots of the young trees and weaken or kill them.

Chapter members and guests were treated to roasted European chestnut cooked to perfection by the Chestnut Roasters, the Gantenbiens, who operate their business in Asheville, NC.

Those attending the tour also had an opportunity to purchase copies of the book, “Mighty Giants-An American Chestnut Anthology”, edited by Chris Bolgiano, Editor, and Glenn Novak, Contributing Editor.