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The Story of “Everest,” a Journey of One Family’s Chestnut Seedling

Once in a blue moon, I like to gift an extra seedling or two to special friends or major donors when there are extra available from TACF’s Meadowview Research Farms. A long-time friend and former colleague at The Nature Conservancy, Hallie, was the recipient of such a seedling to raise the spirits of her father, Jack, who had been dealing with health issues the past couple of years.

Jack replanting his seedling

Jim replanting the seedling.

This was no ordinary delivery, however. Jack and Hallie live in north Florida, not exactly chestnut territory!

I had an idea to make it work. First, I contacted Lily Kingsolver, TACF’s nursery manager at Meadowview, who offered to bring a nice young tree not needed for research to Asheville. I carefully packaged the precious seedling in a mailing tube surrounded by foam and bubble wrap. It was dormant so endured the UPS delivery well. To the delight of Hallie’s parents and Jack’s brother, Jim, who was visiting, they carefully studied TACF’s Growing Chestnuts Fact Sheet, replanted the seedling into a bigger pot, and dubbed it “Everest.” Maybe because someday it will be as tall as a mountain? Not sure about that theory, but the name stuck.

When it came time for Jim to head back home to Connecticut, it was decided he should be the one to take Everest to a part of the country where it had a chance to survive.

Jim standing beside Everest

Jim and Everest.

Jim carefully strapped Everest in his motor home’s shower stall, propped it up with boxes of spaghetti, and made the trek north! Now lovingly nurtured in his sunroom, regular updates on Everest’s well-being are shared with his family in Florida. This fall, Jim will choose a spot in his yard to plant the seedling and observe the tree’s transformation.

I thought our readers would agree that this is a touching account of how one little traveling tree allowed this family to remain connected while hundreds of miles apart. This represents yet another example of the vast possibilities of TACF’s hopeful mission. Oh, and by the way, Jack and Jim just celebrated their 91st and 89th birthdays respectively!

Jack and Jim side by side holding a photo of themselves as children

Brothers Jack (left) and Jim (right) with a photo of themselves as children.