Ali Kislak is no ordinary farmer. Just his eccentric patterned shirts, flapping open in the 37 dregree heat, are a clue to this city man turned farmer. He is vague on the details – measurements and time have no importance in his life, he says – but every day worked, lira spent and mistake made has been a step closer to creating his abundant food forest.
Ali has taken the best philosophies and ideas from permaculture and natural farming and created a sustainable farm on which there is little input from outside, but which produces enough food to keep him and his friends – his chickens, turkeys and volunteers – well fed for the whole year. The three main ethics of permaculture – care for the earth; care for the human being; and add value – are the foundations for his way of farming. Ali lives these principles, showing – with great success – that anyone can easily grow their own food without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers.
Step into his food garden and you will soon see why it is so much more than a veggie patch. Ali calls it a forest, and it is exactly that: a dense, green jungle of aromatic and medicinal plants, fruit trees and a variety of vegetables, often hidden – from insects and humans alike.
“The nature is perfect,” says Ali, showing that if you give them the opportunity, the plants will take care of each other. One of the most successful methods to achieving this is to plant on raised beds. Spend the time and energy thoroughly cleaning your land and then build raised beds. As the soil in these beds is not compacted it remains aerated, soft and easy to weed.
Polyculture is another successful strategy in natural farming. Different plants need different minerals from the soil and different growing conditions. By mixing up all the vegetables, herbs and trees, planting them alongside each other, you allow them to take care of each other; deep roots create waterways in the soil, tall stems make shade, wide leaves provide humidity, and old plants and weeds become mulch, further nutrition for the soil.
It is clear: “natural farming is do nothing farming,” says Ali. Now that the hard work of preparing and planting his garden is done, he leaves pest control to his turkeys and chickens. His feathered friends also eat the weeds, scratch up the soil, provide manure, eggs and the occasional chicken dinner.
“In nature everything has a purpose.” By enjoying the mystery of nature, leaving it to its own devices, Ali is showing that you can live a sustainable life in tune with nature.