Sunday, May 26, 2013

Farming and Landscape Architecture

Balloons Over Cappadocia
I have always thought there to be a link between farming and Landscape Architecture; both fields (pun...not intended) focus on reshaping land to better serve the end function.  Just as we would visit a site to find the best location for a building, a farmer must decide how to best parcel his land out for growing and grazing, and how to alternate plots over time.  Both of the analysis are conducted with a heavy basis on natural features, such as sunlight, rainfall, and topography.

With grocery stores on every corner and convenience stores on every block, the connection to our food (myself included) becomes distant at best.  We get hungry, we buy a bag of chips, or an apple.  We get thirsty, we buy a bottle of water, or a soda.  Supporting local farmers, and food co-op's are becoming more and more popular.  However, for the most part we rely on someone else for all of the food we consume.  What if you didn't have that option?  What if you lived in an area with extremely challenging geography, limited finances, no vehicle, and only small markets to serve immediate needs?  While hiking in Central Turkey we saw exactly what you could do.

We recently visited Cappadocia in Turkey (Kapadokya in Turkish and pronounced the way that is spelled).  This is a region in the Asian part of the country and is quite isolated from some of the more populated areas in Turkey.  There are several towns that make up this region but we stayed in Göreme.  Göreme is in the center of the 'Lunar Landscape' that has made Cappadocia so famous to tourists.  Volcanic cones dot the arid landscape, some of which served as homes and churches thousands of years ago.  People in the area still live in carved out homes inside the soft rock, but most of the cones (also known as Fairy Chimneys) lie empty.

Volcanic Cone Diagram
Volcanic Cones with Doorway in the Middle
Volcanic Cone in Foreground Abandoned Cave Homes Beyond
 As we explored the surreal landscape we found a family farming on a decent sized parcel of land.  All work was being done with hand tools and the women walked the field in bare feet.  I noticed the land was very moist but could not see a source of water!  Some of the plants were being harvested while others were being planted, and there were many plants at various stages of growth throughout the plot of land.  I didn't want to linger and stare while they worked, so we moved on to where we could look on from higher ground.  From the higher location all of the simple details about this farm became clearer.  

Water Shaped Valleys
Stone Cliffs in Pigeon Valley
 These people were truly living off of the land.  There was no car, and no driveway to the basic cave dwelling where they appeared to live, and the plot of land they were farming was a simple marvel in itself.  They had selected a parcel of land nestled between high walls of the soft white stone.  The soil appeared to be very fertile in this area due to it's color and the quantity of produce being harvested and currently growing.  

I could also see how they managed to transport water to all of the planted area.  The area slopes slightly from higher to lower ground moving away from their dwelling and they have created terraces along this slope.  They have formed a reservoir at the high end of this slope to collect water that falls from the stone cliffs above.  The water is then moved (by hand) along a long trench around the entire planted plot.  Smaller channels branch off of this outer trench and feed the individual planted furrows.  Some larger shade trees have been left to protect the growing plants from the harsh sun.  I have put together a few sketches below to better illustrate all of this.

Blue: Reservoir//Yellow Arrows: Large Perimeter Trench//
Blue Arrows: Small Feeder Trenches
Terraced Farm Section
The next day we checked an item off our bucket list and took a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia.  It was a fantastic way to see a lot more of Göreme.  As we drifted high above the ground I saw more and more farm plots similar to the one I had seen between the cliffs the day before.  As we flew past I had a much better appreciation for not only the work that goes into each one of these farms, but all of the work that goes into putting food on my plate every day.
Farm Nestled in a Few Cones
(Could the Cones Act as a Dam for Water to Help Irrigate?)
Farms from 1,500' Feet

1 comment:

  1. Live on a Country farm in a safe, unspoiled country environment and enjoy Farm Fresh dairy, fruit and vegetables produced on site.
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