Within the scope of a project, the chairman of an agricultural chamber is tracing seeds of dozens of local fruits and vegetables on the verge of extinction in the Eastern Black Sea region and distributing them to the local community for cultivation.
After serving as the deputy chairman of the agricultural chamber in Rize’s Fındıklı district following his appointment in 2011, Mehmet Ali Özsoy was elected as its chairman in 2015. To bring his projects to life, Özsoy rented a 100-square-meter garden and initiated cultivation by importing apple and pear saplings from the western province of İzmir.
As people started expressing interest in indigenous apple and pear varieties specific to the Eastern Black Sea, Özsoy shifted his focus in that direction and began traveling from village to village, tracing the whereabouts of vanishing fruit trees.
“I roamed all the villages around Fındıklı and beyond, tirelessly scouring the hills and valleys to find the remnants of forgotten fruits, many of which are now unknown in terms of taste and name,”Özsoy explained.
Noting that he wrote letters to all the agricultural chambers in the Eastern Black Sea region to request ancestral seeds, Özsoy said that his chamber managed to cultivate 100,000 vegetable seedlings over the course of six years.
When the available land became insufficient for their efforts, Fındıklı Mayor Ercüment Çevratoğlu allocated 19 acres of land to support their initiative.
Stating that they send seeds to everyone who asks for heirlooms, Özsoy said, “We are dedicated to preserving the heritage left by our ancestors through agriculture and passing it down to future generations.”