PA/NJ Chapter Story
The Pennsylvania/New Jersey Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation was founded in 1994 by Ann and Bob Leffel, building on previous breeding work conducted by Rod Clapper. Through the tireless efforts of the Leffels, along with Dave Armstrong, the chapter grew membership and planted backcross breeding orchards. By March of 1995, our chapter had 170 members and issued its first newsletter. The first annual meeting of the Chapter took place on April 20, 1996.
As an independent 501-c3 non-profit incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we are overseen by an all-volunteer Board of Directors, assisted by a part-time Office Administrator.
The PA/NJ Chapter established a relationship with Penn State University in 1997, a relationship that continues to this day. Our chapter has a total of 30 acres planted across 8 PSU sites, 3 greenhouses, and offices.
By 1999, our membership had grown to over 500. Twenty years later, membership now stands at about 900. Our volunteers have contributed amazing amounts of energy, funding, land, and support.
Since the first backcross orchard was planted in Pennsylvania, our volunteers have installed about 150 American chestnut research orchards, demonstration plantings, and ceremonial plantings across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For a map of our active orchards and plantings, please click here.