Istanbul’s bostans, with their rows of crops in small plots, are easily recognizable in aerial photographs from 1966. In 2014 I was asked to help the City and Agriculture project map some of the gardens. Using GIS, I gave these photographs geographic coordinates and compared them to modern satellite imagery. The results are stark. The Langa gardens have completely disappeared. In Yedikule, the once sprawling fields have been reduced to isolated patches of cultivation. I also traced the outlines of current gardens in Google Earth and overlaid the results on the old aerial photographs. Of all the bostans that existed in the 60’s, only those in red survive today.
Eli Weaverdyck, University of California, Berkeley.
Yedikule bostans in 1966 (only those in red survive today)
Yedikule bostans in 1966
Yedikule bostans in 2012
Map of Istanbul with the location of Yedikule
Langa bostans in 1966
The area of Langa in 2014
“Istanbul’s bostans preserve an alternative model for urban gardening: one that provides a living for professional small farmers, who supply their communities with produce and have relative autonomy over the spaces they cultivate. That this livelihood is being destroyed right as gardens are becoming fetish objects in the urban imagination might seem ironic — but it is perfectly compatible with the rise of the neoliberal green space.”
Article and link to the audio material on the Yeşilist website
Students talk with Riza Bey about his garden near the Yedikule walls. He also shared some wonderful personal photos with us.
Riza Bey and other Yedikule gardeners and residents at “Crazy Toma’s” lettuce garden, 1963. Man at middle-right is holding a lettuce leaf.
A bittersweet return to “Crazy Toma’s” lettuce garden, now a mosque.
Riza Bey prepares to take fresh produce from the gardens to market, early 1960s
Students construct a camera holder from a plastic bottle
Students assist with aerial photography and mapping elevations of garden terraces — in Istanbul, Turkey.