Duane Waddell Chestnut Demonstration Orchard
By Robert Sypolt, WV Chapter
The Duane Waddell Chestnut Demonstration Orchard, located in Kingwood, West Virginia, was established in 2013 on abandoned farmland owned by the Preston County Board of Education. Each year, Preston High School’s Greenhouse Instructor, Laah Wolford, have the students pot seeds that are harvested from Duane Waddell’s Legacy Tree. Waddell is an active and generous member of TACF’s WV Chapter. In the spring, once the seedlings have grown, Wolford’s class plants them in the orchard. Also planted in the orchard are American chestnut trees from West Virginia’s Cathedral State Park, as well as Chinese chestnut, Chinquapin, and some other crosses.
The school also works closely with TACF’s WV Chapter who offer presentations to the students about the history of the American chestnut. The latest presentation that took place in October reached 280 students. After the talk, students got to walk through parts of the orchard to view and compare the different variety of chestnut trees, making this a wonderful learning opportunity.
The orchard is located beside the Preston High School Campus and is home to 90 trees. The trees had a good growing season – some even bloomed – this past summer after the cicada damage in 2016. Along with the three-panel sign about American chestnuts, a cross-country trail has been developed that runs through the middle of the orchard. This trail is open to students and the community.