American Chestnut Regeneration Effort (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr., Venaura Farm, Chapel Hill, NC USA 
mailto:london@sunSITE.unc.edu - http://sunSITE.unc.edu/InterGarden
Organic Agriculture-Farmscaping-CSA-Permaculture-Renewable Energy Information
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 13:59:51 +0000
From: David Yarrow <dyarrow@igc.apc.org>
To: sustag-principles@amani.ces.ncsu.edu
Subject: American Chestnut Regeneration Effort

First Draft
American Chestnut Regeneration Effort
[for review and comment]

[Note: This first draft ACRE proposal is for your review.  Please 
forward your comments, and indicate if you are motivated to be a Founder 
or Sponsor.   -- David Yarrow]

       Under the spreading chestnut tree
       With my sweetheart on my knee,
       Oh, how happy we will be
       Under the spreading chestnut tree.

The American Chestnut [Castenea denata] was perhaps the grandest 
hardwood in the eastern woodlands -- a pillar in the forest ecosystem of 
eastern North America.  Its immense 100 foot high spreading crown of 
stout horizontal limbs was habitat for many birds, animals, insects, and 
other plants.  Its abundant nuts fed wild creatures, native peoples, and 
early colonists.  They said squirrels traveled from Georgia to Maine 
leaping from chestnut to chestnut, never lacking food or shelter.

Fast growing, durable, with straight grain, the chestnut was heavily 
logged in 1700 and 1800's for fences, lumber and furniture.  Chestnut 
bark was rich in tannin, used to cure animal pelts and hides.

Early in the 20th century, an aggressive fungus came to America in 
Chinese chestnuts imported to the Botanical Gardens in New York City.  
This fungus rapidly consumes inner bark of American chestnuts.  Once it 
eats all around a trunk, the tree is girdled, sapflow to leaves is 
severed, and the crown withers.  This chestnut blight spread quickly.  
By mid-century, healthy chestnuts were rare.  Today, there are none.

 The American Chestnut didn't completely vanish into extinction, but 
retreated into the underworld to survive as an endangered specie.  The 
fungus doesn't affect roots, so chestnuts survive as roots that send up 
saplings for sunlight and sugar.  These root sprouts may grow 20 feet 
tall before fungus girdles their stem.  This vegetative regeneration 
doesn't permit genetic mixing to occur, and can't supply a remedy for 
chestnut blight.  However, a few saplings flower and form seed before 
succumbing.  Brooklyn Botantical Garden plants seed from these 
reproductive crossings hoping for a single tree resistant to blight.

                     A New Beginning

Help bring back the grandest tree of the eastern hardwoods: the 
American Chestnut.  Join an effort to restore the beauty, abundance and 
habitat these stout sylvan giants supplied only a hundred years ago as a 
pillar of woodland communities.

The American Chestnut Regeneration Effort  [ACRE] can return this 
great tree to prominence in eastern woods with a new genetic strain able 
to resist the fungus.

ACRE is a simple three phase strategy.

                Phase 1: Trace Element Fertility

First is elemental and physical: remineralize soils with trace element 
fertilizers from powdered rock.  This chemical-biological link is the 
foundation for any stable lifeform and ecosystem.

Restoring abundant trace minerals in easily digestible form improves 
overall vigor, growth, sturdiness, hardiness, and resistance of any 
plant.  Modern agriculture and horticulture use foliar sprays with trace 
elements -- including liquid seaweeds and fish emulsions -- with great 
success.  However, ACRE will supply trace minerals in soil amendments.  
Soil remineralization has been used successfully in Europe, America and 
Australia to restore dying forests, revive worn out soils and assure 
seedling vigor in unfavorable environments, such as stress from acid 

Rock powder rich in trace elements mixed in soil around chestnut roots 
will increase plant vigor and survival of saplings, but isn't likely to 
alter the final outcome: invasion by the very aggressive Asian fungus -- 
and death.  Vegetative propagation from roots won't engender resistance.  
To overcome blight, sexual reproduction with genetic recombinations must 
encode new ability into American chestnut DNA.

However, remineralization with full spectrum trace elements nurtures 
flowering and reproduction.  Consistently, trace mineral fertilization 
triggers profuse blooming, successful fertilization and seed formation.  
This reproductive outburst permits prolific DNA synthesis, enhances 
genetic crossings and improves probabilities for emergence of new 
strains with resistance to Asian fungus.

Remineralization, a new strategy in forestry, hasn't been tried often 
yet.  Remineralization has never been tried with American Chestnut.  In 
light of results with other plants, loading soils with digestible trace 
elements is a must-do strategy.

                   Phase 2: Site Management

ACRE's second phase is mental, and complex: select, remineralize, and 
monitor sites where American Chestnuts still survive as rootstocks. 
These sites are genetic treasuries of a nearly extinct tree, and should 
be cataloged and protected.  This is five general tasks.

First: Identify, survey and select sites of surviving American 
Chestnut rootstocks, and sponsors to caretake each.  These hardy 
persevering specimens provide a strong initial genepool.

Second: Observe sites yearly at key times to record relevant data: 
leafing, flowering, seed forming, harvest, disease, mortality.  
ACRE can set up a simple system to archive site data.

Three: Gather viable seed from remineralized chestnuts, and 
distribute them to people and agencies to germinate, plant and 
monitor in field trials.  The key is to maximize public 

Four: Interplant other chestnut varieties, variants and hybrids to 
make blight resistance genes available for crossing.  A Nobel 
Laureate documented "jumping genes," and, recently, engineered 
genes from cultivated canola hybrid "jumped" into wild rapeseed 
cousins.  Expanded pools of on-site DNA improves odds to jump 
blight resistance into American Chestnut genes.

Five: Test other treatments to augment remineralization: foliar 
sprays, soil innoculants, sonic therapies, companion plants, other 
fertilizers, antifungals, homeopathics, special nutients, and more. 

Phase Two needs a self-sustaining organization to network participants 
and sites, to archive and distribute information.

                    Phase 3: Intangibles

This phase is "of the spirit" -- tele-mental and meta-physical. This 
isn't extra-ordinary, but returns to attitudes embodied in the Lakota 
blessing mitakuye oyasin: "all my relations."  Just so, a tree doesn't 
stand alone, but is supported by invisible links to a forest community 
from bacteria to bears.  Real Earth healing must restore the chestnut to 
our culture, consciousness and communities, too.

This has two dimensions -- spiritual and social -- first is human 
relations to divine order; second is human integration with and to the 
natural eco-community.  This is difficult to describe and prescribe in 
simple rhetoric and practical actions.  As one example, Dan Winter, 
Ph.D. of San Graal Institute, documented that focused, coherent human 
intention affects the magnetic aura and metabolism of trees. ACRE will 
widen this link between science, spirituality and society.  The goal is 
to restore our conscious, cooperative partnership with Nature.

The Universe isn't just "stuff," but a manifestation of divine 
intention and desire as on-going Creation.  Our actions in conscious 
alignment with this are amplified by Natural Laws of harmonic resonance.  
Just so, ACRE will invite higher powers and invoke divine forces to join 
our effort.  Indeed, altering a genepool requires us to seek divine 
guidance and aid.

How to realize metaphysical ideas in practical action will vary with 
sponsors' ideology, theology and resources at each ACRE site.

Modern humans in urban industrial culture are estranged from the 
forest and a woodland way of life; our relation to the ecology is as 
severely disturbed as the land itself.  For Americans born since 1900 
the chestnut isn't even a memory; few ever saw a mature American 
Chestnut.  Appreciation for this grand tree is as rare as the tree 

To reawaken awareness of the American Chestnut, ACRE will advocate its 
re-adoption into human communities and family -- minds and hearts.  ACRE 
will promote values, images, ideas, practices, attitudes, art, 
ceremonies, celebrations, and festivals to honor the American Chestnut 
as ways to nurture a dream of its revival and reinstill our culture with 
a sense of connection to the Forest.  We must relearn to live within and 
under -- not from, off or out of -- Nature and the Forest:
                     The Old Green Way.

Ideas for events to achieve these intangibles:

*  Designated Acres: Encourage people and groups to set aside one 
acre or more to plant with chestnut seed of remineralized trees as 
a sanctuary for this tree at the edge of extinction.

*  Ceremonies: Offerings of prayers for the chestnut, to honor and 
give thanks to the chestnut, and for divine guidance and aid to 
protect, strengthen and revive the chestnut.  We pray for 
ourselves; let us pray for this tree.

*  Healing Circles: Meditations to communicate with "higher realms" 
of Nature-as-spirit, and to transmit life energy and love directly 
to trees.

*  Celebrations to honor the American Chestnut with song, music, 
poetry, art, dance, and ceremony.  These events are best held at 
flowering and seed harvest times.

* Festivals (longer events, larger crowds) Communities hold festivals 
for apple, maple, strawberry, garlic, corn....  Chestnut, without 
current commercial value, needs one.

*  Concerts: The harmonic sonics of drum and flute benefit plants and 
trees.  Solo musicians can serenade the grove, or an outdoor event 
for humans can be scheduled.

                              The First Acre

Initial site for remineralization is proposed as Hearthstone Hill, 
headwaters of Amethyst Brook, east of Amherst, Massachusetts, in the 
Connecticut River valley.  This modest mountaintop is a thriving nursery 
for several hundred chestnut saplings sprouting from old roots.  To the 
east, Hearthstone Hill drops down to deeply forested land around Quabbin 
Reservior.  This genetic treasurehouse waiting to be unlocked and 
restored offers three strategic advantages.

Minutes from Hearthstone Hill is an excellent source of high quality 
rockdust.  Lane & Son granite quarry produces extremely fine (400 mesh) 
traprock dust with a respectable trace element analysis.  And it's free.  
One truckload is abundant for ACRE.

Sirius Community, an intentional community founded by Gordon Davidson 
and Corinne McLaughlin after their return from at Findhorn Community in 
Scotland, owns 80 acres atop Hearthstone Hill.  Sirius land includes 
several chestnut sapling groves.  The community's philosophy -- rooted 
in organic-biodynamic methods and belief of humanity's spiritual 
cooperation with a conscious, living Nature -- is receptive to ACRE's 
intention and vision.  Every spring, in coordination with Earth Day, 
Arbor Day and May Day, Sirius holds A Celebration of Trees as a 
community ceremony to call leaves and flowers out of trees.  Embracing 
the American chestnut will be a natural, logical step for the community.

The University of Massachusetts, nearby in Amherst, has a wealth of 
resources valuable to ACRE, including labs, greenhouses and other 
scientiefic facilities, and an activist environment-conscious  student 

Lastly, Joanna Campe, publisher and editor of Remineralize the Earth, 
magazine of the network, lives 30 miles away in Northampton.  Thus, the 
remineralization network can easily keep in touch and report on with 
this first ACRE. 

                        21st Century Resurrection

As we enter the third millennium, let's leave a legacy of Earth repair 
and ecological regeneration for future generations who must inhabit this 
land.  After nearly a century of disease and decline, with human aid, 
the American Chestnut can rise from its roots hiding in the soil 
underworld.  Remineralization with trace element fertilizers is a 
strategy with great promise to make this new beginning.  With minimal 
money and labor, ACRE holds strong promise to achieve this chestnut 

                            for more information:
Turtle EyeLand, c/o Broeckx, P. O. Box 6034, Albany, NY  12206; 
518-426-0563;  dyarrow@igc.apc.org
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
 for a green and peaceful planet for the Seventh Generation
              David Yarrow    at    Turtle EyeLand
 c/o Broeckx, P.O. Box 6034, Albany, NY  12206   518-426-0563
  dyarrow@igc.apc.org    http://www.estrie.com/macphi/yarrow
***  The Green Dragon: pathways to the third millennium  ***
Eve, the earthworm sez: "If yer not forest, yer against us."