Learning While They Plant, Planting While They Learn
By Ben Jarrett, Southern Regional Science Coordinator
On November 3, seventeen students of Dr. Jay Bolin’s conservation ecology class at Catawba College replanted the Frog Hollow Orchard outside of Salisbury, NC. Cody Fulk of The Land Trust for Central North Carolina (LTCNC) manages orchard. The Land Trust uses the orchard to teach students of all ages about conservation and the American chestnut story. It is also one of the eastern-most plantings established by the Carolina’s Chapter. The orchard began as a progeny test in 2015 with Meadowview B3F3’s. However, due to widespread drought in 2016, the orchard experienced extensive mortality. At the beginning of the day, the orchard looked quite sparse, but that afternoon, there were chestnut seedlings blowing in the wind.
“The collaboration between LTCNC and TACF is wonderful for our Catawba College Environmental and Biology students. Students raved about learning first-hand in the field about the history of the chestnut blight and appreciate being able to participate in their restoration,” said Bolin, when asked about the planting on November 3.
The site is now used as a demonstration orchard for students to visit and learn about chestnuts and land conservation. Frog Hollow can also provide data on the survival of B3F3’s east of the native range in North Carolina. The class planted more than 90 B3F3 seedlings and filled the void where the other trees had died. Bolin and his students not only planted these trees, they helped collect survival data on the orchard in the spring of 2017 as well.
“This fall it was quite rewarding to see our Catawba College students excited about planting the large chestnut saplings provided by TACF that they had potted up from small bare root plants about eight months ago,” said Bolin.
After being potted by Catawba College Students over the summer, the seedlings were grown at Godley’s Garden Center, owned and operated by Catawba College graduate, Bill Godley.