Farewell to Victor Ananias

Author: Kai Kreuzer

On 2 March 2011, the founder and motor of the Turkish organic association Bugday, Victor Ananias, died suddenly. The charismatic Victor – mourned by many in Turkey and far beyond – was planning many projects. He was only 40 years old but had been active in the organic movement for more than 20 of those years. He was staying in Fethiye on the south coast of Turkey. After a short stay in hospital he returned to his little garden hut where he was spending a few days relaxing. The next morning he was dead. At midday on Saturday 5 March 2011 he was buried in his home town of Bodrum. Two thousand people attended the funeral.
click to enlarge the picture – see comments below –
Picture: Victor Ananias, third from the left next to Udo Funke, the head of BioFach, and Atila Özal, Buket Özgür, Kai Kreuzer and Gizem from Bugday.


As Dogan News Agency (DHA) reported in Turkish – they carried a picture of the hut – Victor Ananias was found dead in bed by his mother on Tuesday morning at about 8 o’clock. It was not clear whether the cause of death might have been carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas boiler or could have been a heart attack (see the Hürriyet report in English). Blood and tissue samples were taken for an autopsy that should throw light on the actual cause of death. The results of the autopsy will not, however, be available for about one and a half months.
(Picture: Buying flowers in Tbilisi/Georgia)

The deputy chairman of Bugday, Sehirlioglu Bator, said after the moving funeral: “Victor worked with great passion to promote organic agriculture, an ecological lifestyle and the protection of nature. He sowed the seeds of a new consciousness across the whole of Turkey. Now he has made his last journey but the seeds will spread far and wide, which is an important challenge for our country.” At short notice, Bugday organized coaches to take members from Istanbul to Bodrum on Friday night so that they could attend the funeral. (Picture on right: Spice stall in the market hall in Tbilisi)

For Victor, it was important that the Bugday association had not only developed into the mouthpiece of the organic movement but was also involved in improving the marketing of organic products. In the middle of 2006, a very success weekly organic market was launched in the Sisli district of Istanbul so that the urban population had a chance of buying affordable fresh fruit and vegetables direct from organic farmers. Since then, more markets have been set up in Istanbul, on the south coast (Antalya) and on the Black Sea coast (Samsun)
(Picture on left: Buying figs and grapes at the roadside in Tbilisi)

In July 2006, Organic-Market.Info published an article referring to that first organic market: “Victor Ananias has been working to achieve this little revolution for a long time. Bugday spent three years on organizational work alone. Sixteen years ago, Ananias began with an organic stall in Bodrum in the south-west of Turkey. A number of years and many casual jobs later, this son of Turkish and Chilean parents opened a restaurant and served his guests organic ingredients. During the winter, he familiarized himself with the cuisine of other countries. He returned from his many journeys, that also took him to Germany, as a person who didn’t need much in his life, did not eat animal products and was guided not by what was doable but by what it was necessary to do. A man who wanted to convince others of the benefits of an organic way of life. A man who himself lived the issues he was fighting for.”

Victor Ananias also worked hard to create holidays on orgnic farms. Called TaTuTa, a network of holiday and work opportunities on organic farms was set up. Anyone interested can get information about the approximately 70 participating farms from a handbook or via the internet. There’s a map on the internet where you can click on a red dot and get further information in English or, of course, Turkish about particular farms, what they offer and where they are located. Since 2003, Bugday has also been organizing farm visits as part of campaigns to make consumers better informed.

Commitment to eco-friendly tourism induced Victor to take over the chairmanship of the European association for eco-tourism, ECEAT. In an interview on the ECEAT web page Ecoclub there is a description of the early years of Bugday, founded as it was from small beginnings, namely a vegetarian restaurant started by Victor in 1990 in Bodrum. To finance the increasing activities of Bugday, he became the national coordinator of the organic movement in its dealing with the EU or UN bodies. The orgainzation was given financial support by, for example, the UN Global Environment Fund.

Victor always wanted to be around politicians in Istanbul and Ankara so that he could make the voice of Bugday and organic agriculture heard. Whether at a reception given by the prime minister’s wife to which Bugday was invited or at discussions with work groups regarding a national action plan, with great charm and understanding he won the hearts of the many people who he inspired to adopt the ecological alternative (see our earlier report on the action plan). At the same time, he invariably behaved in a modest way, something that was reflected in his exemplary lifestyle.

As well as creating organic systems in Turkey, Victor regarded the international networking of the organic industry as very important. He travelled to numerous conferences such as those of the IFOAM EU Group in Brussels (picture: Victor Ananias on the right with Kai Kreuzer from Organic-Market.Info) or the big East Europe/Central Asia Organic Conference in Georgia in September 2009. When we were there, I had the opportunity to spend a whole day with him wandering through the markets of Tbilisi (see various pictures) before going to a public bathhouse and a back massage. In the evening, we prepared a simple meal of salad and fruit in my hotel room.

Victor and some members of the Bugday team also took part regularly in BioFach in Nuremberg, mostly staying from the beginning to the end of the fair (picture: BioFach press centre). He was pleased to take part too in a BioFach press conference in Istanbul in October 2009 to provide the media with information (see picture on left). Full of enthusiasm, he gave a presentation of the operational methods of Bugday, the successes it had achieved and the aims of the organic way of life.

In the last few years, he devoted himself increasingly to setting up an eco-village. About 300 km as the crow flies to the south of Istanbul, houses were built that incorporated eco-technology. More and more organic businesses, for example a bakery, were to be located in the village. Victor grew vegetables and olives there himself. After taking time out, a good year ago he decided to devote himself exclusively to developing the Bugday association, with the aim of continuing step by step to turn his vision of an ecological lifestyle into reality. In a blog on the international Bugday web pages he appeals to everyone who is genuinely committed to the cause to get involved.

Now others must continue the role of figurehead and coordinator. Victor leaves behind his mother, his ten-year-old son Ali and his partner Günesin Aydemir (at the front in the picture on the right), who works for Bugday.
(Picture: Saturday noon time in Bodrum at the funeral)

If you would like to send a donation to the organic and environmental organization Bugday, the details are: concerning Victor:

IBAN NO:TR96 0006 2000 4000 0006 694649
Garanti Bank Karaköy  Branch
Branch code:400
Account no:6694649

Tip: www.bugday.org


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Document-discussion: x
Ein Abonnent wrote at 07.03.2011 13:27:18
Subject: Victor

My colleagues and I are shocked to learn about the sudden death of our dear friend Victor. Not only did I work with him over many years in IFOAM where he was always one of those who said: "I am here, I am available and I am willing to engage", but also after my time with IFOAM. Over the last several years Victor supported our conference in central and Eastern European and central Asian countries with his ideas and participation.

It is very hard for all left behind to accept that someone leaves us so suddenly. I feel with his family and friends. What a loss for the movement in the region, but also overall.

I am glad that I hugged him at BioFach which I now know was for a last time.
In deep sorrow


Organic Services GmbH
Gerald A. Herrmann

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Ein Abonnent wrote at 07.03.2011 13:29:49
Subject: Condolences

Dear friends,
My sincere condolences…
Kindest regards
Rogier van Apeldoorn
Zuster Kortestraat 2
9983 SX Roodeschool
The Netherlands

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Ein Abonnent wrote at 09.03.2011 13:01:20
Subject: Bugday: Victor gave us inspiration

Victor Ananias , the founder of the Chairman of Board of Bugday Association of Turkey was found dead in his bed on March 2. Ananias passed away in his sleep. The cause of death is yet to be declared after the autopsy report, due in two months. He was 40 years old. He had done so much and had so much more to do - his unexpected death is a great loss for Bugday, for Turkey and the world.

Victor was a pioneer of the organic movement in Turkey, actually we can't speak of an organic movement before Victor. In 2006, he initiated the founding of the 100% Ecological Farmers Markets, which allowed small organic farmers to sell their produce directly to the consumers. Another one of the signature projects of Bugday was TaTuTa, a network of organic farms located all over Turkey which accepts visitors and volunteers from all around the world. For more information on Bugday and its projects, please see www.bugdayglobal.org.

Victor Ananias was also very much involved with international network. He was the Secretiat General of ECEAT, a member of IFOAM "good governance task force" and was a member of board of EEB among many other networks.

Victor was a great friend to many and a wise man who never compromised from what he believed in. This is a better world for he was in it for 40 years. He has touched many people and has accomplished amazing things, leaving us with a lot of work to make this world a better place. Victor gave us the inspiration, the motivation and he showed us that it can be done. For that, we are forever thankful.

Gizem Altin Nance, Director of Communications
On behalf of Bugday Association

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Ein Abonnent wrote at 09.03.2011 14:03:36
Subject: Letter from Beti Minkin, Anatolia Foundation

Victor was a magical person. Just like a playful elf who appears briefly in an enchanted forest, he magically disappeared into the womb Mother Nature. We can be assured his wand is still with him; he will continue to inspire us on even deeper levels in the future.

I knew Victor and his mother Gulben since 1995. We ate in a similar Zen-like way. Gulben found peace in deep ecology; as for Victor and I, life and work meant meditation in action. We worked in parallel ways, our paths crossing occasionally. Then it was high energy exchange which lasted since the next meeting. I saw him a few weeks ago in Istanbul at one of the organic street markets he initiated. We hugged warmly, wished to have a chat, but there was a farmer's meeting, so we had to postpone it to next time... I now miss the chat, but still feel the hug! Lovingly, Beti Minkin, Anatolia Foundation

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Helen Lueg ( born Selman ) wrote at 02.09.2011 12:29:20
Subject: Victor

I never got to meet Victor , but we are relatives, my father was brother of his mother.

There are so many similar behaviours in the family , I wonder if my cousin Victor Ananias Selman is there, I wish I could get in touch.

I am so sorry we never met, I am so sorry for his family and all the people who want a bettter world.


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