Slow Food International Supports the Defense of Istanbul’s Historical Yedikule Gardens

19 Jan 2016 | English

Last week, Istanbul greater metropolitan municipality forces began demolition in the Yedikule Gardens, which for 1500 years have been an example of urban agriculture.

Slow Food, in collaboration with the Yedikule Bostancılar Derneği and the Yedikule Bostanları Girişimi, will continue working for the reconstruction of the area and trying to convince the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to keep the urban gardens intact. However, the situation is critical and requires quick action.

Defne Koryürek, International Council Member for Slow Food Turkey, commented: “I think it is an insult to the history of this city to claim that these gardens are lawless. These are 1500 years old gardens! They’ve been here long before the Ottomans took Constantinople and long before the Republic of Turkey was even in the picture!” Koryürek called for a joint action: “We urge our friends all over the world to help us raise an international voice, strong and based on solidarity. The destruction of these precious gardens must be stopped.”

Carlo Petrini, International President of Slow Food, responded to Koryürek’s claim: “Slow Food strongly supports the residents of Istanbul who are fighting to preserve an important historical, environmental and cultural heritage. Why are urban gardens so important? The act of planting a food garden may seem like an insignificant gesture when faced with the complexity and gravity of food security problems, but if thousands of sustainably farmed food gardens are cultivated, and if networks of farmers, agronomists, students and chefs spring up around each one, then they can each point the way towards a more sustainable future that responds to the needs of local communities. This is not the future designed by big international financial institutions that promote export crops and agricultural systems based on the massive use of chemical fertilizers, but rather, it is the future that Slow Food is actively working for. We are currently promoting 10,000 sustainable gardens in Africa and supporting thousands of school and community gardens all around the world. Istanbul’s Yedikule Gardens should not be destroyed!”

Having incredibly resisted change and continuing to grow vegetables, the gardens are one of the largest green spaces left in the city of Istanbul. Around 300 people, many of whom trace their roots to the Black Sea province of Kastamonu, earn their living raising tomatoes, mint, arugula and the legendary Yedikule lettuce, a Slow Food Ark of Taste passenger prized for its unique flavor.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality claimed the illegitimacy of the gardens, saying that the land did not belong to the farmers. The AKP, Turkey’s majority party, have ignored the fact that the Yedikule Gardens are a type of open-air museum of agricultural practices and represent a tangible connection with Istanbul’s urban history.

Government security forces came with excavators and bulldozers and attempted to raze the area. They told members of the Yedikule Gardeners’ Association that all physical structures in the gardens were to be demolished by March 2016.

For the moment the historical gardens have resisted. Yet, they have faced a serious attack and gardeners’ utility sheds have been demolished, seriously affecting more than 160 people. Slow Food in Istanbul has done everything in its power to communicate with the authorities. We have asked our representatives in the parliament to seek for a solution. We have invited the civil initiatives, the press and the public figures to at least witness the situation. But none of us were able to ease the pain and horror that the gardeners were subjected to,” said Koryürek.

Read more at: http://localhost/slowfood/istanbuls-historical-yedikule-gardens-face-destruction/

For further information please contact:

Slow Food International Press Office, Paola Nano, +39 329 8321285, [email protected]

Slow Food Istanbul, Defne Koryürek, [email protected]

Slow Food involves millions of people who follow the philosophy of good, clean and fair food. The network is made up of enthusiasts, chefs, experts, young people, food producers, fishers and academics in over 150 countries. It includes 100,000 Slow Food members worldwide, who belong to 1,500 local chapters. Their membership fee helps to fund the association, and they participate in many locally organized events. The network also includes the 2,000 Terra Madre food communities, who are committed to sustainable, small-scale food production.

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