From June 18 to July 2, I spent two weeks in the ecofarm Agrida. The name comes from AGRI for agriculture and IDA for the mountains around this place. The farm is located in a small village called Cazgirler, next to the bigger town Bayramiç. About 74 people live here, and there are only three children (and they are siblings).
The farm uses the permaculture system, and everything is made to be recycled. From the ashtray to the organic garbage (onionskin, shells of eggs, salads, etc.) that is used to fertilize the soil or feed animals.
They produce no garbage except for plastic.
The farm has a solar panel system that stores energy for 48 hours and the water comes directly from the mountain springs.
The farm were I have been hosted has a front garden with some vegetables. Furthmore, there are 25 ducks, 8 geeses and 20 chickens. This is the perfect farm for people who like eggs!.
The owner of the farm is the kind Bahadir Yasa. He is Turkish but lived more than 30 years in USA as hotel manager. After travelling worldwide, he decided to retire in Turkey.
He said that before living here he did not know anything about permaculture, then he started to study it and created the farm and Agrida association.
He also has many fields in the village where fruit and walnut trees are growing and coal is produced.
The life in the village is very quiet and peaceful. One of our main task was to take care of the animals. We fed them twice per day, collect the eggs, change the water and also cleaned and weeded the garden. When necessary we helped the neighobours in some works. I said we because I met with a lovely American girl called Victoria who was a wwoof volunteer,
and you can find her experience in this clip:
A very nice family live in the village. Sefer's family and his wife Gulten with their three children: Semet, the older one, 14 years old and twins Sila and Semih, 11 years old. They have goats and cows. We helped Sefer in different works in his farm. For thanking us (me, Victoria and a Belgian couple that stayed few days) Gulten made a delicious lunch. It is very common to help each other like barter.
We had different activities. We also went to fields in which they produce coal and they have planted cherries, beans, tomatoes and peppers. In that place they use the drip irrigation.
Bahadir is doing a great job in this place because he combine the traditional experience with the innovation. Due to him now 14 familes use solar panel, he brought drip irrigation and helped people to understand that is better to use iron gates than wood, because they do not have to create a new one every year. Once a year he has a reunion of the heads of the neighboring village and trains them.
One of the thing that I really liked about this experience is that we experienced Ramadan with the women of the village. It started the day that I arrived and in here women are used to eat all together during this month. The food was delicious (I am in love with bulgur) and in this way I had the chance to see the houses of most of the people of Cazgirler; what strucked me the most was that men and women eat separately and the kindness of this people. I have friends in Italy that never invited me to eat to their own house!!!
Bahadir hosts people from EVS project too as Agrida association is accredited by EU and tourism ministry. His last volunteer was a Portuguese girl that stayed in Cazgirler for one year.
In this vilage there is couple that moved from Istanbul to Cazgirler. Serpil was a teacher, now retired, and Ahmet is a producer from state perfoming arts institute.
Bu Benim Koyum is the name of their project and you can listen (in Turkish) what his project is about:
Shortly, this is what Ahmet says in the video “The reason why we choose Cazgirler is because the village people are very receptive and there is an association here that is working almost at the same ideology we have (Agrida, E.d.). Bahadir has already started the evaluation and changing of the village. This make us to make Cazgirler the main station, and we have a website too where you can see our project: www.bubenimkoyum.org or www.bubenimkoyum.
With the their support we want to make ecological arts, workshops, studies, perfomances etc… There are like 390 villages in Turkey and we have visited 300 of them and Cazgirler is gonna be the home base. We are going to invite professors, teachers, asking for their help and make not only theatre but also photograpy, painting, or sculpture workshop. The food we will eat with our guests will be provided by our garden in the back of the house. The main issue is ecological art. We are going to do this with people coming outside cities and with the locals; we are trying to integrate them together. We want to combine the traditional knowledge that is not written yet and put in writing with contemporary ecological life. This place seems perfect for us and the area is easy reachable and you can be in big cities in few minutes".
I truly enjoyed this experience, as Ahmet said, here people are very kind and they like foreigners. I had the possibilty to eat with the women every night because of Ramadan, and I feel very lucky for that. I suggest to you that are reading this post to come and see this place with your own eyes because you will fall in love with the villagers.
I left you with a video that I titled: "the impossible conversation."
In here you can see more pics that I took about Cazgirler people.