Meadowview Research Farms
The Wagner Farm,
TACF's original research farm in
Meadowview, Virginia is home to the research farms of The American Chestnut Foundation with almost 50,000 trees planted on over 150 acres.
In 1989, TACF established the Wagner Research Farm in Meadowview, Virginia, to execute the backcross breeding program developed by Philip Rutter and the late Dr. Charles Burnham. Chestnut trees have been planted, crossed, and grown on the Wagner Research Farm over the last 24 years.
In 1995, the farm was filled to capacity with over 5,800 chestnut trees at various stages of backcrossing. A generous donation enabled purchase of land nearby, now known as the Glenn C. Price Research Farm. A third farm was purchased in 2002 and a fourth farm in 2006. Additionally, breeding orchards for the 'Nanking' source of blight resistance are located at the Matthews State Forest near Galax, Virginia. Today, TACF’s Meadowview Research Farms have almost 50,000 trees at various stages of breeding, planted on more than 150 acres of land.
To visit, tour, and/or volunteer at our research farms please contact Dr. Fred Hebard.
Click here for a map and directions.
Dr. Fred Hebard, Chief Scientist
Contact Fred about TACF's breeding program or about growing chestnut trees
Dr. Fred Hebard has led TACF's research in Meadowview, VA since the Meadowview Research Farm was established in 1989. Beginning as Superintendent of the Wagner Research Farm, and later becoming Staff Pathologist, he has guided TACF's research since its inception. Prior to joining TACF, Fred was a post-doc research specialist at the University of Kentucky, working on disease physiology of chestnut blight with Dr. Lou Shain.
He received a BS in Biological Sciences from Columbia University where he worked on tissue cultures of chestnuts and their interaction with the blight fungus, and continued his tissue culture work at the University of Michigan, where he received an MS in Botany. He studied the histopathology and epidemiology of chestnut blight at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, measuring blight resistance in American and Chinese chestnuts. He received a PhD from Virginia Tech in 1982, under the oversight of Dr. Gary Griffin. "This is my dream job, to breed chestnut trees for blight resistance in a practical field setting. I hope that someday, the mountainsides of the Appalachians will once more be white with chestnut blossoms on the fourth of July."
Jeff Donahue, Director of Operations
Jeff joined TACF in November of 2011 as Director of Operations at the Meadowview Research Farms. He has nearly 30 years of experience in forestry research and development as a Tree Improvement Specialist and Research Forester working in both the public and private sectors in programs focused on tree plantation productivity. Jeff holds a BS in Forestry from Purdue University and an MS in Forestry with a minor in genetics from North Carolina State University. Jeff’s range of experience includes breeding and testing of pines and hardwoods, research on intensive tree plantation silviculture and vegetative propagation. He has held positions with the Peace Corps, North Carolina State University, the Boise Cascade Corporation, International Paper Company and ArborGen. His tree improvement experience includes both tropical and temperate tree species. In addition to supervising operational activity at the Meadowview Farms, Jeff assists with distribution and establishment of progeny tests in the field.
Dr. Laura Georgi, Pathologist
A long-time member of TACF, Dr. Georgi comes to the Meadowview Research Farms from Rutgers University where she worked on genetic mapping of fruit rot resistance in cranberry. Laura studied plant parasitic nematodes for her graduate degrees at Purdue and Cornell, followed by postdoctoral work on a free-living nematodes at the University of Missouri and on nematode parasites of insects at Tennessee State University. She returned to plant parasitic nematodes when she moved to Clemson, where the focus shifted from the parasite to the host: peach. Laura participated in developing molecular genetic tools that led to the recent sequencing of the peach genome by the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute. While at Clemson, with funding from TACF, she made the first bacterial artificial chromosome library of Chinese chestnut and has used this library to develop molecular probes for investigating possible genome rearrangements in Chinese and American chestnuts.
David Bevins, Research Technician
David was born and raised in the Meadowview, VA area on his family’s farm only a few miles from the Wagner Research Farm. He is a graduate of King College in Bristol, TN with a BS in Neuroscience and a BA in Youth Ministry. David helps direct farm operations during planting, pollination and harvest seasons, while also collecting pollen and assessing its viability to ensure viable pollen is provided to TACF’s 16 state chapters. David performs laboratory experiments such as testing for rapid screens of resistance and the virulence of the chestnut blight.
Wallace (George) A. Sykes, Farmer
Wallace, whom we also know as George, was raised in Mendota, Virginia, not far from the original Wagner farm. He is happily married, and he and his wife April have 3 children. George enjoys hunting, fishing, and farming.
George started working at the Wagner Farm in 1989, the year it was founded. When a full-time position at the farm opened up in 1997, George began working steadily for TACF.