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Keep Matthews Forest alive

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By Andrew Bowman, Master Gardeners of the Blue Ridge

Over the years, Judge Jack Matthews acquired 566 acres of land and had a variety of projects that he was trying to accomplish on the Matthews State Forest property near Galax.
He wanted to maintain for posterity some of the old ways of doing things and to maintain the old-time (heritage) fruit trees.
As a benefactor to the Twin Counties, he left his mark. Upon his death, Judge Matthews left his property to the state as a means of educating generations to come.
It needs to be maintained for posterity. Unfortunately, Virginia does not have the monetary resources to do everything, nor do they have the personnel required to do everything necessary.
This is where the community as well as the Master Gardeners of the Blue Ridge come in.
It would be a shame if the vision of the judge could not be realized due to a lack of caring. We have a treasure in the Matthews Forest, The Matthews orchard, the Matthews “American Chestnut orchard” that is being developed, as well as the Matthews Farm, where old-time farming practices are shown and used to keep knowledge alive.
After all the time and money the judge spent, and the great gift he made to this area in the form of the heritage apple trees, chestnut trees, the farm and forest products, the Twin Counties needs to stand behind everything that happens there.
This one area draws visitors from all over the U.S., and with every visitor comes the green stuff that it takes to keep the wheels rolling.
This is a great tourist attraction and will only get better and receive more recognition if we get behind it and continue to improve and maintain the gifts he left to us to share.
Many activities go on in the Matthews Forest that are educational and enjoyable for everyone. They need manpower, womanpower and kidpower to keep going.
Shouldn’t we as a community be there behind it all the way? Think about it.
Don’t you want your descendants to be able to have a window to the past, and be able to relate to some of the things you as well as your parents and grandparents were involved in and to be able to appreciate the modern conveniences that we have and to be able to compare lifestyles and problems that are related?
It is all educational for all ages. Let’s keep it alive, by devoting the time and energies necessary for all to see and appreciate.