Gül Girismen, founder of Slow Food Foça Zeytindali and of the first Earth Market in Turkey passed away yesterday, after a long struggle with illness.
Every now and then in life, alas not very often, we come across gifted people, who possess the innate ability to make us feel at ease and at home. Who can talk without speaking, inspire without preaching, listen without judging. Gul was definitely one such person.
Years ago, she moved from Istanbul to the Aegean Sea, to Foça – a town that became her own. She could have made it merely her own retreat, but Gül was not one to just sit and wait. She noticed the elder women selling wild edible greens and vegetables that people could hardly name, and established the Slow Food Foça Zeytindali to start promoting the local foraging heritage. With event after event, this alliance between Slow Food and the women producers grew, becoming a weekly event, and then the first Earth Market in Turkey.
Gül was humble and yet extremely ambitious for her community. She and the whole Slow Food Foça Zeytindali forged their path, one small step at a time. In 2014, they launched Terra Madre in Foça, the first such event on the Aegean coast, welcoming guests from all over Asia. For her and Foça Zeytindali’s contribution to the Earth Market network, they were awarded the Frassanito prize at Terra Madre. Those who were there would never forget how contagiously happy she was, while waving at her friends with the prize in her hand.
Slow Food was her home. Although already severely ill, she came all the way from Izmir to Piedmont to visit us last September during Cheese! – The Shapes of Milk. We should have known that it was her farewell.
It is now up to all of us to ensure that everything that Gül has built and taught us will live and grow, like branches from a stem.
Our prayers and thoughts are for her husband Aydin, her daughters Gülin and Simin. Ciao Gül, to God we belong and to him we return.
– Michele Rumiz, Slow Food International