Gunesköy Cooperative started in 2000, when 8 of us formed Turkey’s first `environmental cooperative`. We spent months looking for the right land, and in July 2002 we bought 75 000 m2 of `stony land` from the treasury.
Who was Gunesköy in the first 10 years?
Eight founder members: Ali and Inci Gokmen, Atila Koc, Claire Ozel, Cetin Goksu, Evren Yilmaz, Fikret Simsek and his brother, Yavuz Ataman. And later Omur Evren and Fevzi Torun. Many active participlants came from Ankara: Ozer Tayiz, Yasemin Cetiner, Ceyhan Temurcu, Nihal Poyraz Temurcu, Ali Ihsan Basgul…
From Elmadag: Talat Kurusakiz
And the nearby village Hisarköy: Sinan, Mustafa, Ramazan, Ismail, Ethem dayi, muhtar, …
Regular volunteers included Kivanç Cantimur, Ali Dogan, Neslihan, Fatih, Sinan Kayaligil, …
And foreign visitors have participated from Germany, Britain and Holland.
2001: the group came together to discuss concepts and what could be done.
2002: the land was purchased by auction: 74 000m2, for 22 000 000 000TL
2004: the land was fenced and first trees were planted. A two roomed mud brick house was built. Broccoli was grown on the additional arable 10 000m2. A well was sunk 30m on neighbouring land, but absence of electricity prevents extraction.
2005: first agriculture on the main land. Water problems, but eventually a sprinkler system works! Barley planted on main land, for the roots to break deep into the hardened soil.
2006: More planting along the perimeter fence. First ‘Boxes’ project, delivering weekly organic produce to 40 families in Ankara. One person worked the land, another was employed 2 days a week for the deliveries. 2007: Second ‘Boxes’ project, delivering weekly organic produce to 70 families in Ankara. A second person was employed to work on the land; so 3 people were getting wages from this project. 2008: Third ‘Boxes’ project, delivering weekly organic produce to over 90 families across Ankara. This meant 3 delivery days; very time consuming, so this year we’re trying a different system. 2009: By April people have already started joining up!
2011 January: On our first visit of the year we found engineers measuring up – for the construction of the Ankara Sivas High Speed Train. This was the first we heard of this project. So much for consultation…
Because we aim to design an example that will be able to inspire people living in villages anywhere in Turkey. That is why we chose to start with poor soil, that we intend to work and enrich using natural ecological means.
Because we hope to show how cooperation between long-term residents of the area and others can benefit everyone: by reducing migration from villages, by using resources more effectively, by sharing information, by mutually supporting each other, by bridging between official sources and those who work the land.
To prove what can be done without quality arable land by developing uncultivated land.
By involving as many volunteers as possible, to allow a great number to experience
By developing bonds with local people.
The Bahce project, started in 2006, produces organic vegetables that are delivered to families that subscribe (40 in 2006, 70 in 2007, 95 in 2008). In 2006 drip irrigation was introduced; in 2007 the first companion planting was tried. In 2008 a system of raised beds enabled a clearer layout of the crops.