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 <email@example.com>
Subject: American Chestnut Regeneration Effort
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
* 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;
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
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
*** The Green Dragon: pathways to the third millennium ***
Eve, the earthworm sez: "If yer not forest, yer against us."