Guneysinir Community Park & Almond Co-op Update
Güneysınır is a small town in the Konya region of Turkey. The population of around 10,000 people focus mainly on agriculture for income. Children are often sent away for school after reaching a certain age, and then later stay outside of the town in order to find employment. It is here that G Adventures and Planeterra identified a great location for a sustainable agriculture program that integrated tourism to allow new opportunities for community members to come together and invest in the future.
Almond trees growing in the park in Güneysınır
In 2014, Planeterra and G Adventures’ local team began working with the municipality to create a project that would give back to the community. A plot of land 15,000 square meters was identified and donated by the municipality for Planeterra to develop as a community park and almond cooperative. This plot of land covers area believed to be one of the first settlements in the world. Over 300 trees were planted by 2015.
President of the Community Association, Ilyas Bayrak, said “we really have the opportunity to change people’s lives here.”
Planting an almond park does not create immediate returns, so it was important to integrate tourism into this program to create community benefit right away. Today, Mustafa is the main caretaker of the park. Along with his family, they host G Adventures’ groups as they enjoy a traditional Turkish pancake and a walk in the park to learn about the program. Employment at the park allows Mustafa to stay in Güneysınır with his family and support his grandchildren’s education. Women from the community are also able to sell the local handicrafts to earn additional income from the travellers.
Local handicrafts on display at the almond park
As the trees continue to grow, Mustafa is now working to create picnic areas inside the park for families to come and enjoy the space. They are planning a big festival in the Spring and hope to create more excitement around the park as the first harvest draws near.
Mustafa, the caretaker of the almond park.
The almond cooperative is expected to begin making profits and creating even more employment opportunities by 2021. The Community Association in Güneysınır will manage these profits and reinvest them into their two main priorities: children’s education and women’s economic empowerment. As the trees continue to produce almonds for years to come, the Association will continue to give back to the community and create new opportunities.
Watch our Instagram story from August 2019 to learn about our other projects in Turkey here.