Organic Aspirations: A Tale of Two Turkish Villages
A produce stand in Urla. Photo via PeggySuadaOz at flickr.
To residents of Nohutalan, mining is the way of the past--and organic agriculture is the future. The village, which is near the town of Urla on Turkey's Aegean coast, is already home to 6,000 organically certified olive trees and an organic fig-growing operation, and the entire village is seeking an organic agriculture certificate. But a proposed rock quarry, which would be located a mere 75 meters from the village's farms, as well as its water supply, could put the future they envision in jeopardy. Villagers have mounted a legal challenge--a fight that the story of Göbekören, a village in Turkey's east, shows is worth having.Five years ago, residents of Göbekören took out a massive bank loan to purchase their land and farms from the local ağa, a landowner under whom they had long worked in subsistence conditions. The environmental organization TEMA (Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for the Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats) helped villagers get started with organic farming and animal husbandry so that their products--including chickpeas, lentils, and honey--could draw premium prices. The economic benefits are now helping villagers pay off their loans and reverse migration to urban centers. "For the first time in our lives, we work for ourselves," village head Ertunç Hamarat told the Turkish Daily News.
Residents of Nohutalan hope for a similar outcome for themselves. "People like what we produce. They come from far places for our melons," Halit Gümüş told the newspaper. "If the quarry opens everything will end." Via: "Locals protest against quarry project," "Organic agriculture route to freedom," Turkish Daily News
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