Wedding – American Chestnut
In 2008, I visited one of the research farms of The American Chestnut Foundation and learned about their backcross breeding effort to restore the American chestnut. It’s hard work! Innoculating trees, evaluating blight resistance, pollen collection, flower bagging, meticulous hand pollinations and fall harvests of the spikey burs. After 25 years, all that effort produced the B3F3 generation. Dubbed the “Restoration chestnut”, the trees are 15/16th American and potentially blight resistant. But keep in mind– blight resistance isn’t enough for the trees to rebound in the wild. There’s a very good reason why we couldn’t just throw some Chinese chestnuts in the Appalachians and wish them well. Chinese chestnuts don’t grow fast or tall enough to compete with the likes of tulip poplars and other forest trees. To be successful, the trees would need American growth characterstics with the Chinese blight resistance.
Does the B3F3 generation have what it takes? Does it have the winning combination of Chinese and American traits? To help answer that question, The American Chestnut Foundation invited its Sponsor Members to become a part of their science team. Last March, Sponsor Members were able to receive two Restoration chestnut seeds to grow, measure and report on.
Ryan Somma and I received our seeds on March 17th. We were getting married three days later on March 20th. The timing allowed us to have a very special guest at our wedding. Good people have been trying to save the American chestnut since the blight was first spotted in New York City in 1904. It’s an effort that has spans generations. After 106 years of heartache and hope, Ryan Somma and I had the great honor to plant a Restoration chestnut during our ceremony.
I can’t say for certain we were the only couple who have had an “American Chestnut Unity Ceremony”, but my hunch is it’s pretty rare. : )
In lieu of gifts, Ryan and I suggested two charities for our guests to donate to. For science, we suggested Elizabeth City’s Port Discover. For nature, we suggested The American Chestnut Foundation. The response was resounding! Out of just the donations that we know about, our guests gave $1392.50 to The American Chestnut Foundation. One of our guests, Ryn R, handmade a card to document her charitable donations. She did her homework. She gave the American chestnut leaves teeth!
It’s been eight months and a handful of days since our wedding and Ryan and I are still fielding questions and witnessing continued chestnut enthusiasm from our family and friends.
To have your loved ones so wholeheartedly embrace and support a cause that is near and dear to your heart…. could there be a wedding gift better than that?
For more information of donating to or becoming a member of The American Chestnut Foundation, visit: