This month I was lucky enough to travel to Turkey on a content gathering mission to visit the apricot, fig and sultana farms that produce organic, dried fruit for our client, Crazy Jack. September is harvest time, so it’s a great month to go and gain a deeper understanding of the organic farming process.
We started in Malatya where the apricots had already been harvested, dried and were being sorted by size and packed off to their various countries. Our guides had organised a cooking demonstration featuring this delicious fruit in one of the town’s well-known restaurants. In a frenzy of activity the chef rustled up a selection of local delicacies from kebabs and pilau rice through to desserts like fried apricots with walnuts. We ate like kings, the table groaning under the weight of the seven courses that had been exquisitely prepared. I noted down several recipes to bring back home with me too!
Next stop was Izmir and an early call to see the sultanas drying in the fields. Good weather is crucial during the 5-7 days the sultanas stay in the sun, any rain and the crop could be ruined. This year, thankfully, the conditions have been perfect.
We met Mehmet and his family who have been growing organic produce for Crazy Jack for over ten years. Mehmet is clearly passionate about organic farming and has been since a child. Now his children have inherited a love of the land too and want to follow in his footsteps, which is great considering the call for organic produce increases every year.
Our final destination was a remote village in the mountains where almost all of the 700 inhabitants are involved in fig production in some form. The altitude makes for great growing conditions as the low humidity keeps more of the sugars inside the fruit and the quality is superb. The views are pretty spectacular too.
It was a fantastic trip all round, learning more about the growing, harvesting and packing processes of organic farming, and the people behind it all.
Check out my blog posts for Crazy Jack to find out more about the organic farming processes.