Blissful Meadows Assisting American Chestnut Foundation in Restoration Efforts
A large portion of Blissful Meadows clubhouse and adjacent farmhouse is made from the chestnut trees pulled from the surrounding land back in the 1700 & 1800’s. Their function hall, aptly named The Chestnut Room includes exposed chestnut beams and wainscoting. Even the bar that has been added to the room was made by chestnut wood that was previously located in other areas of the clubhouse.
Once there were an estimated 4 billion American chestnut trees in eastern forests. Then, in the first half of the 20th century, a deadly fungus struck, and the tree virtually disappeared from the American landscape. The chestnut blight was discovered in 1904 in NYC, when the lethal fungus, accidentally imported from Asia, moved at a frightening speed. By 1950 all that remained were huge, ghostly trees. To this day, stumps send up sprouts that quickly succumb to the blight.
The American Chestnut Foundation focuses on conserving the gene pool of surviving American chestnuts and developing blight-resistant lines adapted to local environments. Volunteers conduct inventories of the few survivors. These trees then serve as “mother trees” and are crossed with those developed at the research farms in Virginia. With the nuts produced from these crosses, volunteers have established breeding nurseries all across the eastern United States.
Many surviving chestnut trees have been found located at Blissful Meadows Golf Club. Charlotte Zampini and Kathy Desjardin, members of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation have joined efforts to begin the process of pollinating these trees. Bags have been placed over the blooming branch tips for 10 days, after which pollen will be applied to the blossoms. The resulting nuts will then be harvested in October and planted in the Massachusetts Backcross Orchards. By repeated backcrossing, the result will be a progeny averaging fifteen-sixteenths American chestnut and one-sixteenth Chinese chestnut.
Blissful Meadows is honored to be able to contribute to the efforts of the American Chestnut Foundation in hopes that we may someday be able to reintroduce the American chestnut into its native woodlands.
If you would like to find out more information on the American Chestnut Foundation and their efforts, or if you would like to help, please visit www.acf.org.