Sylvette Williams : the chestnut's second life

01 juillet 2017

Born in Saint Maurice de Chalencon, where she still lives. Sylvette Williams took a Ph D in ethnology, then went on short missions in the Lyons (goat cheese producers), the Ardèche (silkworms breeding) and the Drôme (herbs) areas.

A museum for the future

In the 1990s the chestnut groves in the Ardèche were in bad shape , she was called to help turn a small museum in Saint Pierreville into the Maison du Châtaignier, one of the elements imagined by a few committed chestnut growers who had been trying to revive the production. The museum opened in the summer of 1993.

She remembers :" I was contacted in March to open the museum in June. With the département records office we organized a permanent display showing all the aspects of the chestnut- related industry : agricultural, economic, social, cultural, symbolic."

For a few years Sylvette worked there on part-time duty while busy with various projects around the theme : paths and chestnut trails winding through the Ardèche valley, meeting with producers.

The production starts again

From the early 1990s the chestnut production starts again, traditional products mainly : crème de marrons, chestnut puree, preserved chestnuts.

In 2001 the Regional Nature Park of the Monts d'Ardèche is inaugurated, in 2006 local chestnut growers welcome the creation of an AOP (protected origin) for the Ardèche chestnut.

20 years ago chestnuts were never mentioned in tourist leaflets, nowadays they are everywhere.