Be pleasantly surprised by the discovery of farm style enterprises around the Bodrum peninsula. Despite its long hot summers and dry hills, the soil of each bay’s valley are very fertile and hold orchards, pastures and a verdant mixture of trees.
By Chris Drum Berkaya
Photos by Merve Göral
In response to recent trends in what is known as the farm-to-table or locally sourced food movement, newly established farms are beginning to dot the greater Bodrum landscape. Not limited to traditional farming, entrepreneurs with professional backgrounds are also taking up farming, paying close attention to meet the needs of health and source conscious consumers. Farms in the region are producing everything from wine in the Karaova valley and olive oil in Milas, to smaller scale and family-owned farms producing local produce and offering immersive experiences for families.
One such small farm is the Pinero Farm and farmhouse shop, established in 2016 and run by entrepreneur Aylin Brimo in the Karakaya area of the Gümüşlük valley. Home to a variety of animals and produce nestled in an idyllic setting that includes classic pines, cypress, oaks, hedgerows of bay trees and ivy, Pinero Farm lies in sight of Bozdağ hill and the bare hills facing Yalıkavak and Dağbelen. As the self-described first and only female farm owner on the Bodrum peninsula, a passion for raising animals and cultivating the land led Ms. Brimo to the agriculture business. Pinero Farm is home to a variety of animals, each with names, including cows, goats, chickens, ducks, and several beautiful dogs. In addition to the animals, Pinero Farms keeps a healthy crop rotation of lettuce, leeks, cabbages, beetroot, potatoes, onions, greens, and strawberries. “People look at me strangely and wonder why I do “dirty work,” but I love it!” she laughs happily as she takes a rare moment to sit in the small farmhouse shop. The shop stocks a range of dairy products, including certified raw fresh milk, cheese curd, yogurt, ayran produced at the farm, and some hard cheeses sourced from other farms. Other offerings include frozen goods such as farm raised chickens, Milas olives, homemade jams, tahini from Konya, homemade vinegar and pekmez (molasses) from Milas. Customers can bring their own containers and glass bottles for milk. Visitors of all ages are welcome, with visits to see the animals mainly by appointment, between 10am and 4pm.
Turgutreis Caddesi No.8/4, Gümüşlük; T: 0532 325 72 57;www.pinerofarm.com
Sinan Bey Çiftliği
The Bodrum pioneers of artisanal, organic goat cheese are not found easily, having found their dream plot in Bahçeyaka Köyü, northeast of Mumcular. Sylvia and her husband Sinan Sarpkan founded Sinan Bey Çiftliği 10 years ago, slowly building by word of mouth a reputation for exquisite goat cheeses. Living an organic lifestyle on their land, Sylvia and Sinan produce goat cheese from pure goat milk, as well as jams, bread, olive oil, and a house wine. Although they do not run a commercial operation, they do sell products privately at the farm, and once a year at the Karaova Vintage Festival in September. Group events at the farm are also popular. Pelin Dumanlı, the dynamic chef behind Foodrum Culinary Park, began hosting monthly dinners at the farmhouse with Sylvia and Sinan, with tickets selling out quickly. The farm is the ideal place for groups to escape the crowds, but guests are asked to make reservations prior to visiting.
Sinan Bey Çiftliği, Bahçeyaka; T: 0533 655 09 86;www.instagram.com/sylviesgoats/
In complete contrast to the size of smaller farms, consider the over 100 year history and tradition of Menteşe Çiftliği, home to over 2000 Memecik olive trees that are harvested to produce SOM (pure) extra virgin olive oil. A family run operation founded in 1909 by Murat Menteşe, the Menteşe family are tireless promoters of Milas region olives and olive oil quality. With Memecik olives previously holding a reputation as unsuitable for table olive oil and inferior to other northern Aegean olives, current owner Ali Osman Menteşe set out to modernize production methods and elevate that reputation, ultimately succeeding in crafting a product with less than .08 percent acidity, meeting the stringent standard for extra virgin olive oil. Their SOM EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) boutique labels have won inclusion in the coveted Flos Oeli and L’ Extravergine guides, recognizing the world’s best olive oils. Visitors to the farm are welcome, insists manager Altuğ Kozikoğlu, though at pre-arranged times. Olive oil orders can be made directly via the website, or at select retailers.
Menteşe Çiftliği, Orta Salma Mevki, Ağaçlıhüyük. For visits, please contact Altuğ Kozikoğlu at T: 0533 542 18 47; www.mentesesomzeytinyagi.com
Focused on behavioral health, rather than simply food, is Keremin Çiftliği, a child development concept farm run by Dr. Ayfer Yildirim and a partner in a quiet corner of Burunköy between Yalıkavak and Gümüşlük. Centered around their healthy herd of animals, some 40 goats and sheep, four cows, two donkeys, 500 chickens, turkeys, ducks, as well as the essential cats and dogs, Dr. Yildirim, an expert on child development, provides families with an immersive child development experience that includes interacting with the animals and playing outdoors. Although she says it is a work in progress, Dr. Yildirim’s goal is to create a nature, exploration, and play village, offering a different view of life for children and families. There is a development center for families and children at the farm that supports language, social-emotional, cognitive, psychomotor and self-care skills, and treatment of problem behaviors (i.e. tapping, tantrums, nail-biting, etc.). Additionally, Dr. Yildirim offers developmental tests to tackle learning disabilities, delays in language development, hyperactivity, and exercises that address parent attitudes and coping mechanisms.
Visits are by appointment either for single or regular visits. Currently, there are weekly playgroups on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays for groups of children 12–36 months or 36–72 months old. Activities for children include artwork (preferably outside), fun in the sandbox, and immersive farm experiences such as feeding the farm animals, collecting eggs, or picking vegetables in the garden, all done under close adult supervision. School visits, group celebrations, and family barbeques are all encouraged and welcomed by making a reservation directly.
Keremin Çiftliği, Burunköy No.4, Yalıkavak; T: 0532 543 79 23;www.facebook.com/drayferyildirimmm
The third Slow Cheese Bodrum festival took place in early April 2019, bringing together local Bodrum cheesemakers with cheesemakers from greater Turkey, Italy, and Greece. Featuring over 400 products from around Turkey and abroad, these purveyors brought artisanal cheese and other dairy products to Bodrum’s doorstep.
Local farmers Fethi Çoban and his wife, of Çoban Hayvancılık, presented their single cheese product, smooth goats’ cheese, which is made from their 300 goats that have been grazing on the slopes and pastures in the Gaz Deresi gully above Konacık for decades. They take orders for cheese, which can be picked up by customers at their gate. They also supply animals for traditional celebrations and manure for gardeners.
Çoban Hayvancılık, Gaz Deresi Cad. No.35 B/6, Konacık; T: 0532 466 98 189 or 0252 363 74 49
Taking up dairy farming four years ago was a big leap after their daughter, Masal, was born. Eyüp Kemalhi and his wife left successful professional careers as a construction geophysicist and banker to found Masal Çiftliği two and half years ago in Ortakent, a stone’s throw from the weekly market area. As tasters at Slow Cheese Bodrum discovered, Masal Çiftliği supplies delicious fresh milk, “çökelek,” the simple crumbly cheese favored for breakfast tables or in börek, fresh yogurt and butter. Since the festival, Eyüp said, he is now offering a weekly delivery service to some areas of the peninsula, including central Bodrum. Visitors to the farm are welcome, but please call ahead.
Masal Çiftliği, Müsgebi Caddesi, Ortakent; T: 0532 664 71 54;www.facebook.com/masalciftligibodrum