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Farm of happiness: How this host in Turkey discovered a better way of life through permaculture

monthly host badgeWith over 32,000 Workaway hosts in 170 countries, you can find every type of cultural experience out there- from parasailing in Ecuador, to staying in a remote village in Morocco, the world is at your fingertips! We’re thrilled to connect you to hosts from all over the world so you can have the adventure of your dreams. Each month we invite ourselves in for a closer look at what’s behind the scenes by interviewing just one of our many hosts. Think of it as a teaser and an excuse for you to join in on the conversation. Going by the name of ‘Workaway Host of the Month’ we’ll help you discover more of what it’s like to live in their shoes as we encourage you to take the plunge and find out more for yourself!

This month we spoke with a workaway host from a family permaculture farm in Bilecik, Turkey who shared how they are bringing more happiness into their life. For anyone who is considering a career change or craving more time with Mama Nature, this interview is for you! Read on to hear some encouraging words from this heartwarming host.

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I’ve noticed a lot of hosts on Workaway have had totally different jobs from what they’re doing now. Can you share what led you to make the change from your previous position to your current project?

natural-permaculture-workaway-host-work-exchangeYes. I had a completely different career before switching to farming and permaculture. I worked in banking and pharmaceutical sales for over a decade. But over the time I started feeling how empty that world is and how much routine I had in my life. It became very demotivating to go to work and see myself and my family drown more and more into that life; which is a trap in my humble opinion.

So I started thinking how to change my life into one that is more in sync with nature and one that makes me happy and motivated to work all day if I need to. And the answer I found was permaculture; which is way more than just farming. It considers human happiness, sharing resources, being more sensitive to nature and animals and providing a holistic approach to life.

Did you face any challenges in the beginning that have gotten easier now?

My family has always been involved in farming for many generations and I’ve been raised in the countryside and worked on the fields since I was young. They were mainly applying traditional Turkish farming techniques which are relatively in line with some of the permaculture concepts; like composting and using water in a responsible way as well as preparing our own seeds and using animal manure to treat the soil. So the transition to permaculture was natural for us and the whole family adopted it.

Permaculture helped us understand the natural cycles more and not force growing anything outside its natural habitat. This way we can better manage our water resources and won’t need chemical fertilizers and pesticides to protect our crops. We want to work with nature, not against it.

The face masks thing looks really interesting! What are they and what are some of the benefits?

Workaway in TurkeyThe masks are the top layered bacteria we get when we’re preparing and fermenting our homemade vinegar. It’s organic and a bit acidic so we thought it can be used as a face mask for cleansing purpose perhaps, but it has not been thoroughly tested yet. We had a lot of fun playing around with it with our volunteers. And maybe in the future we can do more research on its usage.

That sounds so cool! Can you tell us how hosting Workawayers has impacted your project? What have you learned from them or been able to teach?

It’s a great way to experience an amazing cultural exchange and learn more about different countries as well as benefiting from the different skills and ideas that volunteers bring and share with us, like language practice, farming and fruit processing techniques or ideas for small site projects.

We also love showing volunteers ,ore about Turkish culture. They often show a lot of interest in how our family prepares soap and different jams, marmalades, vinegar, etc.. as well as some basic building and woodwork skills.

In an article you shared, you mention having fewer international volunteers because of geopolitical concerns. What might you share that could ease someone who is worried about visiting Turkey or any other country?

Recently we’ve been getting a lot of cancellations or “change of plans” from many European volunteers; especially this past year. This might be due to the image Europe has of Turkey and how the picture is changing into a more Islamic dominated state. And this puts Turkey closer to the circle of Islamic phobia maybe.

We still get international volunteers and when they come they understand that Turkey is actually a very safe place and the Turkish people are very welcoming to all people from all countries. If people were to believe 100% in everything that is said and shared over the media, the world would stop. So we’re very thankful to the brave and free spirited people who still have faith in Turkey and still travel to our country and the Middle East region.

All countries have their issues and Turkey is not an exception but Turkey is still one of the safest countries in the world. The crime level in Turkey is lower than cities like Paris or Madrid. I was often told by people who visited Turkey that Turkish people are very friendly, warm-hearted, generous and always willing to help a foreigner.

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What are some unique cultural experiences volunteers may have while staying at a Workaway in Turkey?

Turkey is a big country with a lot of history and culture. Apart from all the lovely beaches and charming old towns. Those who are interested in history and archaeology will have a great time here exploring all the different monuments from different eras. The food is great and the people are very nice and welcoming.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We share what we do, and we love what we do. We try to inspire local people and volunteers in our neighborhood— the beautiful arms of nature are ready to embrace all of us with love. A more beautiful world is possible, if we just start connecting with nature. Let us continue to produce and do more restorative works. If your business does not bring happiness, then don’t do it, or even better, transform it into a form that will bring happiness. 😉

Thank you for such an inspiring message! ❤️ It’s always a nice reminder to focus on the good in the world. We have been to Turkey very recently– not only did we not feel that we were in danger, we enjoyed every bits of it and have met so many warm and welcoming locals. And we know many people will find the courage to travel to beautiful countries like Turkey and others that have welcoming hosts like you!

Are you also an inspired host that wants to share your own story? We are always on the lookout for hosts with interesting perspectives! Email us to tell us more about it and you could be in our next feature!

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