Nature is The Sole Direction: Ecotourism

Nature is The Sole Direction: Ecotourism

Travel standards and tourist profile are transforming inevitably all over the world. The vacations, where sheets and towels are changed every day, shampoos in plastic bottles are used abundantly, open buffets serve meals excessively, in short, where the energy, water, and food are used irresponsibly, leading to pollution and climatic changes, pull people away from nature.

The solution is a nature-friendly, sustainable, responsible vacation, in other words, ecotourism. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been working on the development of ecotourism in a number of ecosystems such as İğneada, the Küre Mountains, the Kızılırmak Delta and the Ida Mountains. TaTuTa (Agriculture, Tourism, Barter) Ecological Farm Visits project conducted by the Association for the Support of Buğday Ecological Life supports the promotion and maintenance of ecological agriculture on the farms while designing ecological farm visits to bring modern urban dwellers together with nature and agricultural activities as volunteers or guests. TaTuTa covers over 60 farms in different regions, including Erzurum, Artvin, Erzincan in the east; Burdur and Muğla in the south; Tokat and Sinop in the north and Yalova, Sakarya, and Çanakkale in the west. Turkey’s list of ecotourism is promising. Take a look at a few; you will feel like a part of an ever-growing family…

KNIDIA ECO FARM / DATÇA                                                                                                                                     

Sit around the table with the people who share your vision of the world to eat the fruits and vegetables you picked from the garden; pick olives and almonds if they are in season; watch the production of olive oil and molasses to witness the effort spent… The Knidia Farm seems to consist of a single hut and a vineyard. You will realize in time that your first impression was wrong. Energy and food are obtained entirely by natural methods. Oil lamps and candles are used in some of the buildings; hot water is provided by a water heater that burns wood; fireplaces heat the stone buildings; olive oil soaps produced here are used for cleaning; the water in the pool that comes from a spring is not chlorinated. There are four stone houses, each of which can accommodate two to three people, and four pergolas in the 12-acre farm. The huts are designed in an open style to maintain the interaction with nature.

The sun and the wind are the energy sources

There is no water main or electricity network in the region, so all water needs, including irrigation, are made by natural spring water running in the farm area. The electricity need is provided ecologically through a combination of solar panels and wind generator. Near the farm, there are olive gardens, hundreds of almond trees and some carob trees. In addition to olive, olive oil, and handmade olive oil soap, carob molasses is produced from locally grown carob trees, which was once produced by women in Datça villages. Most of the food is cooked over the wood fire, and the farm bakes its own bread. There is a limit to the number of guests because the goal is not to consume more than the production.

ZEYTİNBAĞI / THE IDA (KAZ) MOUNTAINS

The calm atmosphere of the Kaz Mountains livens up with the vitality of the olive harvest and the voices of cheerful Aegean women. In this land, there is no need to make much effort to experience the purest states of nature. Erhan Şeker is one of the people who took refuge here and made their dreams come true at the turning point of their lives. He created Zeytinbağı on a piece of land with two olive trees while he was in the textile business in Bursa. Erhan rewrote his story with the two-acre garden with olive and almond trees, and the stone building with its face turned towards the Gulf of Edremit in the village of Çamlıbel; in his own words, created a life that included ‘small, simple, unpretentious pleasures.’

Popular with its kitchen

Zeytinbağı has leisure corners, fireplaces, cultivated areas, hiking trails in the vicinity and pigeons. Besides all these, Erhan’s kitchen is a center of attention. The farmer’s markets of the region inspire him. He handpicks the fruits and herbs. He is not afraid of experimenting with new dishes. He locates an herb that comes to the market early in the season, an all year round fruit, a thorn from mountain peaks, or an aged goat cheese, making pepper and tomato paste in black kettles over the wood fire in the garden. As if these are not enough, there are more than ten varieties of tomatoes grown in his garden from various seeds around the world from Vietnam to Mexico. He makes his own cheese from raw milk and cider vinegar from Bayramiç apples. There is a great deal of interest in his cooking courses in the spring and autumn. In addition, he organizes botanical tours introducing the region’s unique plant diversity and archaeological tours of the ruins in the region for guests.

BAĞBADEM / BOZCAADA                                                                                                                                                                

For the Bilgütay and Berkay Ergül couple, who escaped from the chaos of İstanbul, the search for a place to escape in all the North Aegean starting from Datça ended in Bozcaada between the vineyards and almond trees. They have a small hotel called Bağbadem with eight rooms and a house where they live with their children on the farm that was established by the couple. Hundreds of plants, grapevines, fig, almond, pomegranate, mulberry, and spruce trees, flowers, a small vegetable garden, chickens, turkeys, quails, wooden bedsteads and a small tree house were added to the garden over time. The children of the couple who go to the school in the stone building in the center plan to fish or hunt lizards or crabs in their free time. Food comes from their own garden; eggs from chickens in the garden; molasses, tarhana mix, noodles and jams are their own products.

The local seeds are protected

They protect the local seeds of the island, feed the kitchen waste to the chickens, and separate the batteries and plastics. Bilgütay Ergül defines herself as a neighbor who carries a bouquet of artichoke flowers or a bottle of molasses in her hand when she goes to a friend’s house, a mother who collects seashells with children, a mother who cooks cakes at home for her children, a newborn caregiver for chicks and a woman who can still find time for herself. She hosts their guests hoping to leave a real trace away from artificiality in their hearts. There is no television, but the shadow of the almond trees, hammocks and the wind of the island.

OWLSLAND / KALKAN

Having realized that Kalkan was going to degenerate before anyone else has, Erol of Bezirgan settled down in a 150-year-old village house with his Scottish wife Pauline. Their guest house, Owlsland, is a true highland village house in the Bezirgan Plateau, surrounded by the Taurus Mountains, 17 kilometers from the Elmalı sign at the entrance to Kalkan. The house with the garden inherited from Erol’s grandfather is yours for a total relaxation. In the wood-burning Dervish coffee house of the plateau, which is the nearest one to the cost in the Mediterranean, guests are welcomed with a glass of fresh thyme tea. Cedar warehouses where wheat, chickpeas and personal belongings are stored in winters are still being used after 500 years. Erol is an educated cook, but his hobby is woodwork. He made the sofa, table, and handrails in the house from the cedar wood of a wrecked village house. Corners for relaxation and reading left as they are in nature. Pauline is an agricultural engineer. They use the products they grow with their natural methods in their gardens for their daily needs. They do not use harmful chemicals in their garden or home. They use lavender oil, vinegar, and water for the house cleaning, and a steamer for the furniture. The trash is little because they try not to purchase packaged goods, reuse the bottles, compost the kitchen waste or feed it to the animals.

THE PASTORAL VALLEY ECOLOGICAL LIFE FARM / FETHİYE                                                                                                                

A stone house, a chalet or a tent… The Pastoral Valley is beyond being an accommodation; it is a true natural life experience. Nothing harmful to nature is produced; materials are healthy and recyclable. It is a place where you can enjoy learning about soil, agriculture, and produce, embracing nostalgic flavors. It is suitable for vacations all year round. You can enjoy a pastoral life, improve your skills at handicrafts at the local culture workshops, and follow a different type of diet. In 1999, more than 900 saplings were planted for lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, citrus, olive, pomegranate, plum, peach, apricot, date, quince, fig and mulberry besides Valencia type orange as the main product. Olive, willow, sweet-gum, plane, laurel, chaste, myrtle, oleander, iris, eucalyptus, and pine trees on the side of the stream are protected and reproduced. Forage plants are produced as byproducts between the fruit trees and vegetables. According to the season, tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber, lettuce, arugula, cress, dill, parsley, fennel, coriander, spinach, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, beet, cabbage, red cabbage, radish, potato, onion, garlic, beans, peas, corn, peanuts, and strawberries are produced through ecological agriculture to feed everyone who lives and works on the farm along with the guests.

Preparation for the winter is done with the guests

Canned goods, jams, paste, sauces, pasta, tarhana mix are made for the winter with the help of the guests and put away to the storage. They process the soil with their horse named Rüzgar (wind) and to meet the need for animal products and fertilizer, they feed chicken, duck, goat, and sheep with natural feed in their natural environment. There is also a glass greenhouse where they produce saplings and vegetables and green seeds.

THUYA EKO PENSION / ARMUTLU

It is a suitable alternative for those who miss farming. Thuya that gives its name to the farm is the Latin name for arbor vitae tree, also known as the tree of life. The owner of the farm, Tülay Andiç, the sociologist, wanted to raise her daughter in an environment where she could find healthier foods started growing vegetables, fruits, making butter, jam, and vinegar.

As a result of the study conducted by the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture, the region where Armutlu villages are located was declared an ecological agricultural basin. Established on the seven acres of land overlooking the Gemlik Gulf, the pension, where horses, ducks, chickens, and geese live and eco-farming is done, is open year round. There are rooms in various styles with makeshift beds, mountain view, fireplace or balcony. You can also enjoy the fireplace and work in the garden to let off steam. No preservatives are used.

Volunteer agricultural workers 

Volunteer participants can help eco-agriculture under the supervision of farm workers, they can pick fruits from the trees, collect crops from the field, and prune roses. From time to time, photography and painting workshops, wood painting lessons, trekking organizations are organized. You can participate in horseback riding, cooking courses and traditional canning, jam, chocolate, olive oil making lessons. A limited number of tents are allowed to be set. Those who make a daily trip can take a break in the restaurant, where the meals made with ecological products grown on the farm are served