Focusing on the Core

Plant diversity is the core of BRIT’s work. We discover new plants. We conserve plants as preserved and living collections. We share knowledge about plants through publications, courses, and other modern media.

In 2013, BRIT researcher, Karen Hall, and former Director of Research, Will McClatchey, evaluated a fruit tree diversity collection in Oregon. A dedicated man had collected and cared for the trees across his lifetime but was struggling to find someone to take over his work. Volunteers in the area were scrambling to find ways to conserve parts of the collection but the work was overwhelming. The obvious conservation strategy would be to make clonal copies of the entire collection and to manage it as a major genetic diversity research collection. Struggling to conserve large collections is not a new story for BRIT, having been founded on and grown from the collection work of a few scientists. As the ancient Greeks said, we stand on the shoulders of giants. BRIT stands on the Herculean efforts of great biodiversity scientists.

After evaluating the Oregon fruit tree collection, this duo saw its potential for research on biodiversity. Although Will wanted to drop everything and move immediately to Oregon, the timing was not right. During 2014, new BRIT field researchers were steadily developing major projects through planning, critical collaborations, and new funding. Now, in 2015, BRIT’s research program is ready for new challenges, including the transition to a new Director.

Therefore, Will made the decision to move to Oregon to begin to work with what is possibly the world’s most diverse collection of fruit tree diversity -- agrobiodiversity, to name it properly. This work will combine study of the collection with analysis of native plant conservation methods such as Streuobstwiesen (mixed orchard/grassland management).  The objective is to find ways for diverse crop production that can pay for its own conservation while simultaneously creating a refuge for native plants.

Fort Worth is said to be “Where the West begins” and for Will McClatchey,  BRIT is “Where the botanical research begins.”  He will continue to work as a BRIT remote researcher, periodically visiting Fort Worth. Please watch for reports on progress of this research.

Conservation in Action

This is a great example of a business built on the world’s most diverse fruit tree collection. This will allow the production of highly diverse-flavors of juice for cider! As well as, the ability to conserve the collection by using it to pay its own costs.


Thousand Arbor Refuge, LLC

Visitors are welcome at any time!


Read more about this project in the coming months through BRIT's Blog.