Today is a day of sorrow for me. When they called me from Buğday(1) with the news, I felt something inside me breaking. I did not believe. I did not want to believe.
I loved and respected Victor. No, I do not want to use the past tense, it does not become him at all.
I love Victor very much because he is full of life. He has ideals which he values above everything. He always strives to give something to those around him: he gives information, love, energy, strength to produce and most of all, trust.
Victor is a true entrepreneur who holds all the qualities an entrepreneur should hold… Leadership, intelligence, ambition to work, courage, creativity, foresight, ability to establish social relations, persuasive skills and a unique sense of humbleness. With his calm personality, cheerfulness and unchanged style of dress he is far away from being attention-grabbing. His audience, not knowing him, may wonder who he is or if he really is the one to deliver a speech. But once Victor starts talking about some facts that you have never heard before and the dangers awaiting our world and his solution proposals, everything changes. After your initial startled response fades away and you gather yourself, you’ll find that you will be setting off for a journey to a different world where there is no ambition or egocentrism: to a place where there is no air pollution, where the sun warms us, the soil smiles at us. You will be dreaming about a more liveable world where we are enlivened by the water and where people know how to be sharing with each other and with nature…
Every year he arrives at my Entrepreneurship Course with his basket, the issues of Buğday magazine, his Tatuta(2) guide and his cup. He starts by saying “I am a peasant”. He then explains how humans should follow their duties in life towards themselves and the environment. He shows the class how to be at peace with nature, the soil and water. He shows how to receive and give back to nature alike. He says that the production that is to be made where soil properly meets the seeds is the highest value-added work that an entrepreneur can do. Victor is the proof that one can produce more than they consume and that we, as individuals, can actually change the things we once believed, or were made to believe, could not be changed. As the founding leader of Buğday, which he created from scratch, he is an exemplary social responsibility entrepreneur.
Victor always uses the cup he carries with him to drink water or tea, he never uses anything else. He once said to the students: “Imagine how many plastic or paper cups we use in a year. We cause so many glasses to be washed, causing so much waste of water and detergents. If we all had a cup with us and could use it everywhere without feeling embarrassed or awkward can you imagine what a huge change it would lead to?” And about his basket he would say: “Do you know how sturdy this basket is? You don’t need to carry suitcases or big bags. Believe me these baskets are sturdier. These are made using waste corncobs, they are fully natural. The women in Kastamonu weave these baskets. This is their handicraft. I always use this basket, I recommend it to you.”
About ten years ago, it was him who taught me what ecological agriculture was. Not many people knew about it back then.
If Turkey, despite its vast bureaucracy, has gained awareness of ecological agriculture and has a law on organic agriculture(3) and if ecological products are now accessible not only to a certain segment but also to the general public through ecological markets(4), this is Victor’s and the Buğday team’s success.
The “Seed Network” project(5), initiated with the intention of preserving biological diversity in Turkey, is another precious gift of sustainability from Victor and Buğday.
Another very valuable present for the future is Victor’s house in Çamtepe(6), Mount Ida… He dreamt of this house being an ecological life centre. Against all odds, this house was constructed fully ecologically: from plastering to painting, from mortaring to flooring. In one of my visits I saw him washing the dishes with ash.
In addition to all these, his struggle against GMOs; his efforts to create awareness in peasants who live in pathless villages in Anatolia and do not recognise the value of the things they have; the role he played in getting ecological tourism to be an operating sector in Turkey, in demand both from within Turkey and overseas through appropriate advertising; the responsibility he assumed in enabling Turkey to be recognised and represented by a serious institution such as IFOAM(7) on environmental platforms… I do not know which ones to mention, they are too numerous to be counted…
Dear Victor, you spent your short life teaching us so many things. You set an example for all of us. You let us see things from a perspective that was different to the one everyone else knew or wanted to see things through. You showed us how to overcome in unity the formidable challenges posed by the system. You gave us hope for a better world, a better future. We believed in you Victor, we believed in your dreams, what you wanted to achieve, what you created. With your Buğday team you sowed strong, pure and fresh seeds. You should also trust and believe in us because we will grow these seeds with love and tenderness and take them into the future. We will not let these seeds, which rose out of the foundations that made Buğday what it is, deteriorate or be contaminated. We will continue to share them dauntlessly, persistently and tirelessly, just as you did… And you will be watching us with the loving smile you never lost. Please do not worry; you will be proud of the things we do.
There is a very beautiful and meaningful Simon & Garfunkel song: Sparrow(8). It tells the story of a sparrow, cold, hungry and tired of flying. In his song, Paul Simon asks who will love, warm and feed that sparrow. He asks “will no one write her eulogy?” The answer comes from the earth. The earth says “I will. For all I’ve created returns unto me. From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”
Dear Victor, you have returned to where you belong. May you rest in peace. We would like to express our endless thanks for all that you have contributed to us. We love you very much.
İzel Levi Coşkun