Will Work for Food: Farm Life in Turkey

Turkey knows good food. I think we've established that.

But have we established that in the two weeks since my arrival, I've yet to spend over five dollars?

And just to reiterate, I've been eating like a queen.
I wasn't really kidding about that eating like a queen thing...
If you're just now tuning in, the way I get away with this is by finding places that want you to work for them in exchange for room and board.

I want to learn about cooking and growing food, and somebody wants to give me a hands-on learning experience in exchange.

I'm ok with that.
Bundling large green onions
We found Nar and Ahmet's farm through a website called WorkAway.info. Unlike Wwoofing, which is [typically] only linked to work opportunities on organic farms, Work-Away provides volunteer opportunities for any type of project—building houses, housekeeping, nannying, animal care, and of course farm work. 

All comparisons aside, this has been the best volunteer experience yet (we had five in France).
Overlooking the property
View of the tents and kitchen garden
A little sunset chess?
While the hours can get a bit long (about five hours, six days a week), the work isn't too difficult this time of year, and the copious amount of cats that follow us around plus the company of two other lovely volunteers make it more than bearable.

And have I mentioned that the food is amazing?
Peppers for the next days bazaar...and a cat (not for sale)
Fresh picked parsley
But we'll get back to the food (obviously).

For now, let's take a look at some scenes of our daily work life...

We've been pulling up lots of onions whose seeds have been naturally planted by the wind and replanting them in various gardens....
I mean it when I say the cats follow us around
They might even be spies to ensure that we're working...
Amidst the mint, sage, rosemary, and parsley are some of our replanted tiny green onion specimens
Several days have been spent picking fruits and vegetables (including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, ground cherries, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and leafy greens) and readying them for the twice-weekly bazaar...
Clockwise from top-left: radishes and Asian cucumber; John helps bundle parsley; I  zone out on a Turkish ladybug while I'm supposed to be bundling parsley; an edible weed (perhaps it's mallow??) that is wonderful sauteed
Because Nar's farm is based on the ideals of permaculture, we try to keep practices sustainable and self-sufficient so that nothing goes to waste. These ground cherry (ie physalis) husks, for example, are beautifully decorative, but will also nurture the garden soil once they decompose.
We've had a few beautiful, perfect days here, but most of the time we wear our rain boots like new appendages. Lucky for us, no matter the weather, there is always always something to be done on the farm. About eight basketfuls of something. Dried bean something.
I wasn't lying about those basketfuls. Time to harvest some dried beans...
Monotony is so much easier when you've got three friends being monotonous with you.

One of the realest aspects growing your own food on a farm is dealing with the fact that sometimes that food is alive in a very animate way before "harvest time."
Do I really need a caption here?

The duck soup, by the way, was divine...A slightly thickened brown broth with tiny bulgur dumplings, garbanzo beans, and a butter and fresh herb mixture poured in just before serving.
A boiling water bath and those feathers come right out.
That bulgur ball is trying to be a chickpea
But cheap travel and free food through volunteering isn't just about saving money.

At Nar's farm, we are part of the family. We eat together, laugh together, and work together.

Why travel if you can't truly come to know a country, and what way to better know a country than through knowing its people?
Matop, one of the cooks, volunteers, and Ahmet and Nar
As I crawl into my sleeping bag at night, cold and tired, listening to the dogs warning off the jackals or nudging a nuzzling cat away from my face, the only feeling I'm aware of is how lucky I am.

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  1. Meggan, you have nearly converted me to transforming my peony garden to a bed of heavenly parsley! Well, I will have herbs...My heart just warms to read about this beautiful farm and the great experience you and John have had there. Please tell these lovely gardeners on the shore of the Black Sea that they will have a warm welcome from this gardener here on the shore of Duxbury Bay.

    1. Hmm, I don't know, you don't have to individually pick tiny peony stalks in order to really enjoy them, so don't act too fast.
      Hopefully one day we can bring them to Duxbury and see them wok magic in the kitchen. Duxbury has never seen the likes of it!

  2. Where is the recipe for that delicious soup? Do the cats not poop in the gardens? Sauteeing parsley? What a clever idea. I used a huge bunch last night in my pasta w/ shrimp and herb cream sauce. I just tossed it in at the end. So delicious and fresh.

    1. I think the recipe is locked away in the head of Fatma, who doesn't speak a lick of English except for "ok" and "good." We're just gonna have to go off taste. Maybe you could start raising ducks?
      The cats totally poop in the garden, it's fertilization. And the funny thing is that a lot of times they poop together.




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