John W. Hershey
Simply put, “[John Hershey] knew the importance of trees in the scheme of the universe – fruit for food, power to hold water in the soil, stopping erosion, for shade, and of course, beauty.” So wrote Elizabeth Hershey, his wife, in a small biographical sketch for the Northern Nut Growers Association 1968 report (NNGA, 59: 113-115).
“John Hershey was a nut tree nurseryman who, in his time, became a national authority in the propagation and care of nut trees, not only for the benefit of humans but also as a basis of feed for livestock. John and his wife, Betty, came from solid Mennonite stock out in Paradise, Pennsylvania, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Sometime in the early 1920s, the Hersheys developed a nursery business in Downingtown directly across Route 30 from our Meetinghouse. They planted many varieties of nut trees in the area of what’s now the road leading back to the present apartment buildings, just east of the Methodist Church. Some of these trees still remain, but originally Hershey planted them so thickly, they seemed almost like a jungle.”
That is only the briefest of biographies of an amazing man. This 2018 article from Philly Magazine by Sandy Hingston tells the story more fully. Visit the website at https://www.phillymag.com/news/2018/07/07/downingtown-food-forest-urban-farming/ to review the original or, if unavailable, click the photo below to read a pdf.