Experience a unique ecological farm stay in Turkey

Published 05.07.2014 00:55
Updated 05.07.2014 11:31
Experience a unique ecological farm stay in Turkey

For a life-changing experience and a taste of nature and community, volunteer or stay at one of TaTuTa's 87 registered ecological host farms and establishments.

Have you ever wondered what life is like in Turkey away from the city in a village or remote and natural environment? If you have ever wanted to get your hands in the proverbial dirt and be a contributing part to an ecological way of life, then TaTuTa's Ecological Farm Stays in Turkey offers the ideal opportunity to commence with nature while learning the ropes of farm life or living in a village community. TaTuTa offers 87 ecological host farms or their equivalent throughout Turkey, allowing visitors the opportunity to stay as guests or volunteer and experience a whole new type of vacation get-away as well as way of life.

TaTuTa, which is short for 'Eco-Agro Tourism and Voluntary Knowledge and Skills Exchange on Organic Farms' is a program launched by the Buğday Association for Supporting Ecological Living, which has been connecting volunteers from all over the world with ecological host farms throughout Turkey. Since 2004, TaTuTa has operated as Turkey's representative for WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), a worldwide initiative linking volunteers with ecological farmers to promote cultural understanding and educational experiences based on trust and nonmonetary exchanges in an effort to build a sustainable global community. TaTuTa is also part of ECEAT (European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism) and is an accredited EVS (European Voluntary Service) organization.

At present, TaTuTa has 87 ecological host farms and similar establishments located in all seven geographic regions in Turkey, with more to soon be included. Most of the hosts are located in villages, while a few dozen are also situated in important natural habitats, such as the Kargıcak Valley Farm in Dalyan, which is located near a breeding ground for the endangered caretta caretta.

TaTuTa's hosts also preserve a variety of traditional cultural legacies such as carpet and basket weaving, carpentry, coppersmithing in addition to actively carrying on the country's culinary heritage. The Tangala Goat Farm in Fethiye for example teaches visitors how to make cheese.

Many hosts also implement renewable energy systems as well as a variety of ecological sustainable methods in their practices. At the Tanal Family Farm in Antalya, which is an excellent alternative for those wanting to visit somewhere along the Mediterranean, they not only implement ecological agriculture, but nearly everything on their farm is organic, and not just in the kitchen, even the shampoo and the toothpaste used is made from all natural ingredients.

Each ecological host offers something different and visitors can use TaTuTa's website to plan their own unique experience catering to their specific interests. There is a wide selection of hosts to choose from ranging from farms, ecological communities or homesteads run or owned by locals or urbanites who have migrated to a more rural way of life. The mandatory requirement to be added to TaTuTa's network is that the hosts must practice ecological principles in their production. Another advantage is if they also implement ecological architecture or nature-friendly energy.

Accommodations vary at each location and could range from staying in a stone house to a bungalow or even a yurt. Volunteer work is based on an underlying theme of promoting cultural exchange and knowledge sharing and is arranged directly between visitors and their hosts. Volunteers could help with meals or daily chores, planting and even ecological building. Many of TaTuTa's hosts also offer the option of staying as a guest, which is another great option for the sheer experience of learning what life is like in a rural environment.

The TaTuTa experience was a life-changing one for Tatuta Coordinator Ahmet Berkay Atık, who shares that after quitting his job in 2010 he visited a TaTuTa farm in Amasya as a volunteer. "That's when it all began. When I returned I went back to work and then quit again and went on another TaTuTa experience. My plan was to visit all of the farms," says Berkay adding, that he was then offered the position of TaTuTa coordinator, which he accepted without thinking twice.

Deren Koçdemir recently volunteered at Kiziltepe, a farm aspiring to join the TaTuTa network. She used the opportunity to discover whether village life was for her, since she plans to eventually leave Istanbul with her family when she retires from her professional career. After the experience, she now wants to try another ecological stay with her son.

This cultural exchange not only benefits those who volunteer, but also provides a significant contribution to the ecological establishments themselves as well as the communities they are housed in. As Bahadir Yasa explains, both his Agrida Farm and the Cazgirler village where it is located in Bayramiç "has benefited greatly from the mosaic of different cultures and experiences with TaTuTa volunteers", each of which, he adds, has enriched their lives and imparted knowledge.

This summer consider taking a vacation in a different sort of home away from home for a truly unique experience of community and ecological sustainability in any of the wide network of hosts TaTuTa has to offer, all while leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

Visit Tatuta.org for contact info, descriptions of hosts and reviews from former volunteers.

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