By late summer Cappadocia can look a bit barren as the effects of the spring rains begin to wane in the open, arid countryside.
By mid-July the temperatures can consistently be in the 90s F (36-38 C) until late August, turning whatever was green into a veritable desert, longing for the fall moisture. One can tell where water is by the density of sustained greenness alongside the banks of the small streams, coolies and springs.
Water is so precious that farmers and gardeners in Cappadocia will go to such great lengths to supply the source of life to their crops, that literally kilometers of piping will be laid to connect spring water to gardens.
Recently, I had the privilege of being mesmerized by an absolutely incredible garden. Halil Yoğurtçu, a retired wine expert at a local winery and a current district headman of Avanos, has taken one acre of open land (4000 sq meters) and has turned it into a figurative “Garden of Eden”.
Since 1997 Halil Bey has been working this ground “like a bee”, as they say in Turkish, by running 2000 meters of water pipe and engineering canals and waterways to ensure the fertility of his garden.
“I do this because I love nature. I don’t like sitting around at the kahve (local gathering place for men to discuss the issues of the day), and wasting my time.”
Mr Yoğurtçü’s love for nature, which he developed from his father, has been passed on to his children as well. Mustafa, his middle son, a local accountant, has won international bird competitions (keep an eye open for a future “bird” post!) in Europe, and his youngest son, I hear, has quite an aquarium of fish.
This small plot of land has become increasingly famous for not only its beauty, but also its variety. There are some 70 different types of grapes raised in Halil Bey’s garden each year. Berries, as well, abound in this patch of earth. Lately, he’s been trying his hand at some European berries: Frenk Üzümü (picture at the top), also known as redcurrants, of the ribes family.
Another rare variety that is found in this multifarious garden is the upstart Goji, or Wolfberries, native to southeastern Europe and China. “I just wanted to try something new. I’m not going to sell them, but rather I’m just doing this as a hobby,” was his response to the question, “Why the Goji?” “Also it is a very healthy berry. The Goji is a good source of nutrients.”
So, in my ignorance I looked up the Lycius barbarum and discovered that it has been designated as a superfood, a food that is of excellent nutrient value, plus containing a high level of antioxidants. It also helps if it tastes good, which the Goji does!
The BBC has an engaging, user-friendly article on the Goji Berry. But, if you want a website that contains a plethora of technical/scientific information, see wolfberryworld.blogspot.com.
So, when you come to the area on your next vacation, and if you want to see and sample some of Halil Bey’s produce, as long as he can keep the wild boars from destroying the fruit of his labor, I’m sure we can arrange something. You never know what treasures you may find in Cappadocia!
Have you ever tasted the Goji or Wolfberry?
Did you enjoy this post? If so, here’s what you can do. Please share this post with your friends by clicking on one of the buttons below or to the side. Also, you may want to subscribe to these posts. Click here and follow the instructions. One of my goals is to help people who will visit Cappadocia. This is your way to help me meet this goal. Thank you, I am grateful.