A small village of organic agriculture in the Aegean

A small village of organic agriculture in the Aegean

Wilco van Herpen ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A small village of organic agriculture in the Aegean

Photos by Wilco van Herpen

Kuşadası is not the first place that I would choose to go to. Actually in the 13 years that I have lived in Turkey I never visited Kuşadası. But last week I finally got into the car and went, and I discovered a new world over there.

I was in İzmir when I decided to go to Kuşadası, and it took me just one hour to reach the city. What I wanted to see was a small village, 15 kilometers away from Kuşadası. It was a beautiful Sunday morning when I arrived in the village. At the entrance an old woman was selling cherries, and the beautiful, fresh red cherries were calling to me, “Wilco, buy me, Wilco, eat me.” She was a really sweet old lady, and I had a little chat with her. Typical for the Aegean area she answered me with a sweet smile on her face and offered me a handful of cherries. She recommended I go to the local organic market to look around and do some shopping. “All the foreigners that visit our village do their shopping there,” she told me, assuming that I would also be interested in it. I thanked her profusely and went to the market. A dog came running toward me. He jumped up, licked my hands and wanted to be stroked. With his big eyes he looked at me as if he wanted to say, “Welcome to Kirazlıköy.” Together we walked to the market, which is in the middle of the village.

HDN Time for cherries

It was still early, most of the people would come around noon, a friendly woman told me. I looked around and saw that most of the tables were quite empty. Wondering why, I asked her where the veggies and fruit were. “It is still too early, the season will start in about three weeks,” Gülizar answered me. “This is the time for cherries but if you want tomatoes, courgette or eggplant you have to come back later. All that we have now are conserves we make ourselves, dried herbs, tomato puree, dried vegetables and special products that we use for physical problems. Do you see this red oil?” she asked me. I saw a small jar with a blood-red transparent liquid in it. “This is red cantaron oil, we call it kılıç yağı [sword oil]. If you burn yourself you put a bit of this oil on the wound, and it will heal in no time. Also you can use it when you cut yourself.”

A friend of mine had recommended a place called “Köy Sofrası.” Kirazlıköy is nothing more than just one big street that cuts the village into two pieces, so the chance that you will not find it is close to zero. At the end of the village a lot of cars were parked on the side of the road. A big sign showed me that I had found the place for my late afternoon lunch.

Generally you can find Emine in the kitchen, but when I arrived she had just returned from the country where she had collected some vegetables for her kitchen. When she saw me she immediately put everything she was carrying on a table and welcomed me with a big smile. “What took you so long to come here? I expected you years ago! Do you want to see the kitchen? Are you hungry?” The questions were fired but before I could even give her an answer she took my arm and pulled me into the kitchen. In front of the kitchen a number of appetizers were on display, each one even more appealing than the last. She showed me all the ingredients and all the dishes she made from them.

HDN This was slow food in optima forma. All the ingredients came from their own land and were transformed into beautiful food. It was very difficult for me to choose what I wanted to eat, but Emine came up with a very practical solution: “Let me prepare something for you. You sit down and let me do the rest.”
Outside I sat down, and it took just a second before Nihat asked permission to join me at the table. In the meantime my food arrived. This will be a feast, I thought, but then the waiter came again to put even more food in front of me. This can only happen in Turkey, I thought and meanwhile complimented Nihat on the beautiful place he had. “My wife takes care of the food; I am more of a liquid man,” he told me. “If you want I can give you a nice glass of wine that goes very well with this food. I made it myself, it’s organic.” I got a bit scared because most of the times I have had homemade wine the taste was a bit rough, but I did not want to turn his friendly offer down. He poured the wine. I took a little sip of the wine and let it roll through my mouth. It tickled my tongue and tonsils; the wine opened up in my mouth like a flower in the morning sun. This was wine, this was a darn good wine.

With the gorgeous food and company of Nihat, I had a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Court bans mine exploration

Kuşadası, AYDIN - Doğan News Agency

Aydın’s 1st Administrative court put an end to mine exploration in village of Kirazlı in a decision May 21, in part to protect the village’s organic agriculture enterprises. The court canceled the certificate to conduct mine exploration issued by the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry to Ali Haydar Polat in 2010, covering a 958-hectare area. Mine exploration activities had been troubling residents of Kirazlı since then, which led to the filing of the suit for the cancellation of the certificate. After evaluating a report prepared by three experts, the court determined that agricultural lands belonging to the village, including areas used for organic agriculture, were located in places affected by the mine exploration activities, and canceled the certificate. The residents of Kirazlı were very pleased with the decision.