AYSUN THE DAIRYMAID

THE STORY OF AYSUN SÖKMEN WHO LEAVES BEHIND HER TEXTILE CAREER AND ENTERS ORGANIC MILK PRODUCTION IS GOING TO INSPIRE MANY ENTREPRENEURS.

Aysun Sökmen who has stepped into a simple life leaving behind the chaos of İstanbul after working in textile sector for long years and then setting up a farm named Gündönümü in Silivri has been in organic milk production business at Gündönümü Farm since 2000. We had a nice interview with Aysun Sökmen, whose story is going to inspire many entrepreneurs, about her new goals. She is also known as Aysun the Dairymaid.

Aysun Sökmen, who had migrated to rural life from city life aiming in the direction of an all-new career, tells us about the factors that played a part in her decision: “My grandfather, my father, and his partner were operating in the textile sector. They were wishing for me to take part in the same sector. However, we had been receiving signals about the competition moving to the Far East. Although, I was young, passionate, determined, and a woman who is a stubborn visionary, my traits were not enough to convince them about my future predictions and recommendations. I have decided to enter this sector because I believe that the agricultural sector has a lot to promise. I have founded Gündönümü Farm with my husband Mehmet Sökmen and my son in Silivri in 2000.”

Our target is 1 million tones of milk!
Sökmen emphasizes that ‘Aysun the Dairymaid’ has a real story: “When I came to this village, I have met with many men who were named as Mustafa. So, not to confuse them, I have recorded them in my address book with nicknames that I came up with, such as Mustafa the Milkman, Mustafa the Chief, and Mustafa the Realtor. When we began to the door delivery service, we decided to use ‘Aysun the Dairymaid’ as our service name. Our yearly production target is 1 million tones of milk. Other than that, we also sell heifer and calf for stocking.”

They produce local feed
Sökmen who highlights that she has succeeded with support from her husband, her son, and the family: “The features of the farm that makes it different than the others are our efforts for the animal and land welfare. We have created a volunteer program for animal-welfare. We have produced our own feed. We have a holistic management-grazing system for land-welfare. We have been in a search of healthier and more fertile lands. We are developing the 8 thousand 100 Movement to become able to work with an understanding of permanent agriculture instead of monoculture. Our members who have been relying on us for the last six years request some other products as well as milk.”

First eco-village becomes materialized in 2019
Emphasizing the need of soil diversity for the new generations to come, Sökmen states the necessity of growing different type of products, and creating a working ecosystem by fecundating the soil within the aim of having the large product range that customers demand. Sökmen says, “We need neighbors to do this. We thought about ‘What could we do for each other?’ and the 8 thousand 100 project was born. We are dreaming of creating 100 eco-villages in 81 cities. We are looking for about 10-15 neighbors who are going to support us for the materialization of the first eco-village in Silivri in 2019. Gündönümü Farm is settled on 34 acres of land. We are operating on approximately 500 acres of land, including the lands that we are renting.”

They have almost 2000 members
Aysun Sökmen, who states that the farm has been making profits for the last three years, adds that they offer cheese and butter from the famous Çiftçi Family of Vize and special stone pressed olive oil from the Saltuksoy Family of Mehmetalan, Edremit to their customers.

Sökmen summarizes how they spend their day at the farm: “Our job is 24 hours, 365 days. Our day begins at 5.30 am and goes on until 10pm. I milk the cows in the morning. We determine the lands that the animals are going to grass the next day. We try to manage the water, fertilizer, and the cattle. Membership activities for door delivery, balancing our finances, our 8 thousand 100 Movement activities, and volunteer programs fill the rest of our day. The number of our team members changes. We have sometimes two or sometimes 14 volunteers. It’s better if we are a crowd. Each cow that is separated from nature to serve humans needs care and love. We are in search of a partner who is going to respect our vision and support us in 2015. We deliver our products to approximately 2000 clients residing on a route that stretches from Büyükçekmece to Maltepe every week.”