To Receive Your Whispers
Givers of life to these lungs
May I open my ears and surrender
What can you tell me
ow can I tend you
How can I tend to the ones
Who pour life through these lungs…
"We, for every one of us you've uprooted
You can soothe it by planting another
Of the same as the kind you've uprooted
Every ending a beginning if you choose it…
You can soothe it… if you choose it…"
Bringing Back the American Chestnut Tree
The American Chestnut Tree (Castanea Dentata) is native to the North American forest ecosystem and is, sadly, on the brink of extinction. The loss of the American Chestnut is cited as one of the worst ecological disasters in the United States. In the first half of the 20th century, 1 out of 4 trees across the 180 million acre range of eastern forests were killed because of an accidentally introduced pathogen: the Chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). Although chestnut trees still exist in our forests today, they rarely have an opportunity to reproduce and mostly exist as understory sprouts. The American Chestnut used to rank as the most important wildlife plant in the eastern United States. Squirrels, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoon, and grouse depended on these chestnuts as a major food source. Several unique insect species that relied upon chestnut trees as their principal food source became extinct.
Games, Lesson Plans and
Educational Resources for Kids
In November of 2018 we planted the first 25 American Chestnut trees in Emmaus, PA. The saplings that we planted in November are 2-year old American Chestnut hybrids, and are a close atch to the original American Chestnut species. Although we were surprised with some early snow during the planting event, the soil was sufficiently warm for the hardy American Chestnut, providing good conditions for the saplings' root networks to recover from any planting stress, and giving the trees a head start on next spring.
Additional 85 trees were planted in September and November of 2019 in Columcille Megalith Park in Bangor, PA and South Branch Preserve in Mt. Olive, NJ. The plantings included two groups of trees: (a) American chestnut hybrids; and (b) pure American C. dentata from mature parents that survived the blight and are producing chestnut seeds. Along with planting the American Chestnut trees, we planted native companion plants to promote the trees’ optimal health and growth. We rack and compare health and growth of the two groups, the impact of the companion plants and other biological factors. During the planting events, we offered educational and hands-on workshops for children and families and encouraged them to participate continuously as citizen scientists by contributing time, effort and observations by recording and sharing their findings throughout the tree planting and growing phases.
To this date, all but one planted trees survive and are healthy.
In 2020, we are planning to plant at least 50 additional trees and conduct field-study workshops engaging the public and students in data collection and analysis.