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 the American chestnut. 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 trees we release to landowners like you, and we cannot commit to a specific timeline in that regard. That boils down to a good chance that many trees we have today may not carry sufficient disease resistance, so most likely will not live to become the “mighty giants” we all hope and dream about. While we are making great progress towards our goal, the science of conquering chestnut diseases takes time.
The Georgia chapter has worked with over 220 landowners on projects ranging from small demonstration and/or educational plantings of only a few trees 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. As an all-volunteer organization with limited resources and funding, we try to be careful about establishing new orchard projects so we can make sure our current projects are successful. Obviously, we want all partnerships with landowners to be successful.
Here are some things we ask of anyone interested in planting chestnuts on our behalf:
1) We ask that you 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.tacf.org/membership
2) Basic information about your site should be submitted to the GA-TACF Science Coordinator at email@example.com, ideally via the submission of a “Potential Orchard Steward” form that will be provided. This survey lists the types of orchard projects that GA-TACF supports, 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 tree care is 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 that provides advanced hybrid seeds to donor members. Also, TACF members are eligible to purchase pure American chestnut seedlings during TACF’s annual spring ale. For more information on these programs, see https://tacf.org/american-chestnut-seeds-and-seedlings/
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. Please e-mail us at email@example.com if you want to be kept in the loop about such opportunities..
Thanks so much for your interest and support in the Georgia chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.
GA-TACF Vice President