Sweet Chestnut Chain
Sweet chestnut cultivation used to play an important role in traditional agriculture in the Alps, but lost its significance with changing economic conditions and the emergence of the chestnut blight caused by a parasite in the 20th century. But in the last 10 to 15 years there has been a renewed interest in the preservation and re-planting of chestnuts, comprising marketing strategies, landscape conservation and cultural history aspects (chestnut festivals).
The value added of the sweet chestnut is indeed multifunctional:
- It is useful from the point of view of culture, history, scenic beauty, ecology, maintenance of the traditional terraced landscapes and economic value added.
- The wood industry can use the noble chestnut wood. Chestnut wood is also well suited for avalanche protection and water holding, for pickets for the vineyards, and for heating. Chestnut wood is very durable and has very good technical qualities.
- The fruit of the sweet chestnut can be used for different products: bread, pasta, noodles, honey, beer and schnapps are only some examples. It is marketed in gastronomy and shops in Italy, South Tirol and the Ticino, the southern part of Switzerland. For many farmers, the sweet chestnut production is a sideline production.
There are some recent and very initial networks and co-operations in the north of Italy and in the south of Switzerland to revitalise the sweet chestnut culture.
Sweet Chestnut has a multifunctional value added. The fruit can be used for different products
such as bread, pasta, honey or beer, and the wood is very durable and of a high quality.
(Source: Associazione per la Valorizzazione della Castagna, Cuneo).
The paper describes how and why the success of a revaluation of endogenous rural resources is subject to high regional variations. The sweet chestnut is very well suited for wood- and fruit production. Both kinds of production (wood and fruit) are spatialy separated.
Hay Value Added Chain
The following best practice example from Germany shows that even such a commonplace resource such as grass - or sundried hay - can be the basis for a value added chain in peripheral regions:
Heu-Vital, Allgäu, Germany
Elsewhere, hay is nothing else than sun-dried grass, i.e., valuable fodder mown by hand or by machine. But in the Allgäu community of Pfronten, Heu-Vital is a sustainable tourism concept that involves mountain meadow hay as a valuable raw material for health and wellness.
The hay comes exclusively from protected mountain meadows which are mown only once a year and are neither used as grazing pastures nor fertilized. The most valuable aspect is the fact that each square metre yields up to 70 different medicinal herbs. In Pfronten, this raw material is used to produce, among others, non-pricking hay wraps (herb hay filled in linen pouches and then steam-heated to 50 °C), hay massages, hay pillows, hay fleece, hay oils and cosmetics, and even hay schnapps and liqueur.
Hay – Good for Health, Consumers and a Source of Income
Heu-Vital is a sustainable tourism concept that involves mountain meadow hay as a valuable raw
material for health, wellness and gastronomy (Source: www.pfronten.de).
This means that, as a local raw material, hay has proved to be an attractive and entirely ecological source of income for many mountain farmers, as an alternative to the otherwise conventional subsidised uses. It helps to preserve the traditional mountain-meadow landscape and has helped to create an entire value added chain. As a result, tourism benefits: from the simple guesthouse to holidays on the farm, and even four-star hotels. The project is run by the Pfronten municipality, the marketing company BWT Kurmittel GmbH, the hotel and restaurant association and various other Pfronten initiatives, and has helped to make the town of Pfronten known well beyond the region itself.
Website of Heu-Vital, a value added chain with hay in the Allgäu in Germany.
Special edition of the Swiss magazine for regional development, regioplus, on regional value added.
Find more Best Practice Examples on Regional Value Added in CIPRA's alpKnowhow knowledge base.