Earth Association implements “community based agricultural production” model

Earth Association (Yeryüzü Derneği) is one of the recipients of Turkey Mozaik Foundation’s Core Fund 2020. Earth Association works in areas such as sustainable life, organic agriculture, green energy, climate change, urban agriculture, and rural development. The main objectives of the association are to implement sustainable living principles, to organise training activities for an ecological and nature-preserving life style, to provide interactive training activities and to increase awareness on sustainable living, and to support the people and organisations working in these domains.  The association organises urban garden trainings, communities for food cooperatives, seed exchange and upcycling festivals, campaigns, workshops, and training activities.

Below is our interview with the Earth Assocation:

Community Based Agricultural Production model creates a direct link between food production and consumption. Can you tell us about this model and the work you do to promote it?

Community Based Agricultural Production Model practices were first started with the initiative of 30-40 women in the 70’s in Japan.  Based on their example, the volunteers implemented a similar practice in France and established AMAD. As the Earth Association, we learned the details of the model and its implementation from them. The problem with agricultural production is that the small producers cannot survive the existing gigantic food system. With the community based agricultural production model, we give them the true value of their product and save them from being indebted to the middleman by paying a down payment, if necessary. At the same time, we get the chance to learn about their products, their production methods, and whether they damage their own habitat during production.

In our interview last February, you mentioned that you have recently established a food cooperative. Can you share with us the developments about the cooperative? What kind of change do you think food cooperatives can create?

We established our food cooperative named the Earth Cooperative last March. With the first shop we opened in Bostancı, Istanbul, we created a valuable network with hundreds of people from both the Bostancı neighbourhood and the surrounding areas. While the community-based agriculture model reached only those who are curious and who spend more time on social media, we had a chance to establish a relationship with a different audience thanks to this shop. We attribute great value to the products on our shelves. This love and respect surprised those who visited the shop and created a bond among us. In the upcoming period, if we can get sufficient support from the public authorities or grant-making organisations, we plan to increase the number of our shops. Our priority districts will be Ataköy, Beşiktaş, and Sancaktepe in Istanbul.

As the Earth Association, you prioritise collaborations with different stakeholders. Can you tell us about these collaborations and its impact on the work you do?

We strongly believe in the importance of co-creation culture. In fact, in the months ahead, we think that, starting from the local level, the culture and values of cooperation will prevail, in Turkey and in the world instead of conflicts. Anyone who cannot embrace this culture will be excluded. For this reason, we believe in the importance of non-violent communication within the association and receive training on this subject. We strive to spread this form of relationship by being an example ourselves. We believe that the activities and actions we undertake will have a stronger impact this way.

Can you tell us about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the areas you work and on your organisation? Are there any methods you use to continue with your work?

Unfortunately, we had to transform our events to make them available online, just like everyone else. We think that there is still room for us to grow in terms of being more skillful in organising online events. While we see that online events are not as effective as face to face meetings; we think that it is a positive achievement as it reduces the carbon footprint. We believe that many meetings will continue to be held online in the post-COVID period. That is why we are thinking about these new forms of communication and discussing this issue among ourselves.

Earth Association is one of the grantees of our Core Fund 2020 period with the financing of the Turkey Mozaik Foundation. In which capacity building areas are you planning to work on as part of this grant? 

In this grant period, we will focus entirely on communications matters, especially on our social media communications. We will try to strengthen the bond we have established with our volunteers through social media channels such as Instagram and Twitter and we will aim to reach out to a group of new volunteers. We see that the information about our past and present projects act as a guide for our community, who is devoted to ecological life. For this reason, updating our website is also very important for us which will be another area we will focus on throughout this grant period.