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GCA Medal to American Chestnut Foundation

Submitted by on May 19, 2013 – 8:23 amNo Comment

american-chestnutThe Garden Club of America (GCA) has presented the Medal of Honor, the highest award given to an outside organization, to The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) for outstanding service to horticulture.

For thirty years, TACF has worked to restore the American chestnut to the eastern forests, after the species was decimated by blight in the 20th century.

The GCA awarded the first Medal of Honor in 1920. Over the years, recipients have included Robert Moses, New York’s Park and Highway Commissioner (1938), Henry Francis duPont, for the creation of Winterthur Gardens (1956), and Nobel-Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, for his work to develop wheat strains that helped feed the developing world (1987). (Dr. Borlaug was also one of the founders of The American Chestnut Foundation in 1983.)

Once the “mighty giant” of the eastern forests, American chestnuts stood up to 100 feet tall, and numbered in the billions. In 1904 a blight, accidentally imported from Asia, spread rapidly through the American chestnut population. By 1950 the blight fungus had killed virtually all the mature trees from Maine to Georgia.

Then in 1983, a dedicated group of scientists formed The American Chestnut Foundation and began a special breeding process, which in 2005 produced the first potentially blight-resistant trees called Restoration Chestnuts 1.0. Now assisted by nearly 6,000 members and volunteers in 18 states, the organization is undertaking the test planting of Restoration Chestnuts 1.0 in select locations, including reclaimed mined land, throughout the eastern US.

Founded in 1913, the Garden Club of America is a volunteer nonprofit organization comprised of 200 member clubs and approximately 18,000 members throughout the country. Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in 2013, TACF is a 501(c)(3) conservation organization headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina.

(Photo by Laura_Pirisi del Balzo courtesy of The American Chestnut Foundation)

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