In the first stage, to evaluate the state of the study area from past to present, literature research has been performed and historical documents, reports, and previous studies related to the Farm have been reviewed. Subsequently, basic concepts and best urban agricultural practices of different countries have been studied for developing conceptual proposals. In order to search published and peer-reviewed literature, The Web of Science, ScienceDirect, Wiley Online Library, and Scopus databases were used. “Sustainable Food System”, “Urban Food System”, “Resilient Food Systems”, “Food Resilience”, “Food Safety”, “Food Security”, “Urban Agriculture”, “Urban Farm”, “Urban Garden”, “Community Garden”, “Productive Park”, “Agricultural Park”, “AOÇ”, “Atatürk Orman Çiftliği” and “Atatürk Forest Farm” were selected as searching keywords. One hundred fifty-seven relevant articles, books, dissertations, and reports were scanned using keywords. In the second stage, the site is visited to make a site inventory and analyze the study area. Thereafter, the identity and structure of the site and its immediate surroundings are surveyed. The site’s problems and potentials are examined. In the last stage, a conceptual proposal which is based on the analysis and the synthesis of the findings, is developed (Fig. 1).
2.1 History of AOÇ
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923. Ankara was announced as the new Republic’s capital. The first designed city Ankara was the symbol of a newly constructed nation. The new government was targeting modern civilization principles for enlightened and cultivated people, and social and cultural values were being transformed for modern citizens of this new society. As an attempt to redefine the daily life practices of the citizens, it was aimed to achieve a civilized society with the help of a structured environment. Within this regard, the new regime was introducing modern living environments for redefining the living patterns of the citizens (Kaçar, 2011). For this purpose, the founder of the Turkish Republic, Atatürk, intended to transform Ankara into a green and self-sustaining capital. Atatürk, who intended to create a new society, established AOÇ in 1925 and brought together modern agricultural and industrial production techniques. He combined these techniques with recreational activities and developed a forest farm (Fig. 2). New tools and scientific methods, such as modern irrigation systems, soil reclamation, cultivation of rare crops and afforestation techniques were displayed. At the Farm, it was also introduced the ways of product preservation, information on crops and animal health and technical support for farm machines. AOÇ should be a model for an ideal Turkish village for educating Turkish peasants. It should enable their transformation for being chief practitioners of agriculture in the new society. The Farm was offering internship opportunities to the students of agricultural education, engineering, and veterinary sciences. Additionally, students who wanted to apply to Higher Institute of Agriculture had to study as workers at the Farm for one year. The children of the peasants also had summer schools at AOÇ to learn modern farming techniques. This was an experimental environment, a laboratory for scientifically producing farm goods (Bilgi, 2017).
The Farm, which was established in the infertile and swampy land of Ankara, was expected to be the first example of the reflection of science and technology on Turkish agriculture. It was also the first example of land reclamation with regards to the wetlands on the Farm where only swamp areas and reed beds were. Those swampy areas which had become a malaria threat to the citizens could not be reclaimed for decades. Thus, the rehabilitation of the soil was an urgent issue. As the first phase of the rehabilitation, rainwater and surface water was drained. Then, for making usable the underground water, the site was surveyed. A large-scale irrigation project was carried out. Water structures such as artificial lakes, dams and water channels was constructed. Along with the irrigation network construction, to prevent monoculture, orchards were built up on the alluvial lands (Çavdar Sert, 2017). On the other side, within the drylands of the Farm, forestation works have been conducted and irrigation systems have been constructed. For growing the trees which will be used in the forestation works, a nursery and a greenhouse have been built in the Farm. The purpose was afforesting bare, treeless ridges, and creating green expanses and groves (Açıksöz, 2001). Production and marketing units in almost every branch related to agriculture and livestock can be observed in the structure of AOÇ. These are activities taking place at AOÇ: field crops cultivation (e.g., grains, pulse, meadow-lea, and forage plants), vine cultivation, fruit and vegetable horticulture, ornamental plants cultivation, bovine and ovine breeding, poultry farming, horse breeding, beekeeping, leather trade, and agricultural machinery. In the first years of its establishment, AOÇ was a versatile system in which agricultural and animal products had been produced, processed, packaged, and delivered directly to the public. In order to fulfill the Farm’s necessities, the products such as beer, soda, mineral water, vine, milk, and dairy products manufactured at the factories, mill and bakery built on AOÇ land were presented to citizens in the factory stores of AOÇ (Cinar Ozdil et al., 2020). The Farm, which was established on a land of 102.000.000 m2 in the early Republican period, was fulfilling the food needs of the citizens. Additionally, it was offering contemporary recreational activities such as swimming and sailing in Marmara and Akdeniz pools, watching swimming races in Karadeniz pool, dining in the restaurant, exploring the zoo, learning the Farm history at the museum, listening to the concerts at the music hall and hiking in the forest. Although the Farm was away from the city, it was accessible to everybody due to an effective public transportation network (Kimyon and Serter, 2015; Dinçer, 2017).
AOÇ was established in 1925 as the private property of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In 1937, with its grant to National Treasury, it achieved heritage status officially. The Farm was affiliated with State Agricultural Enterprises Institution, but afterward, it was included within the State Production Farms General Directorate. In 1950, AOÇ became a corporate establishment affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture. AOÇ has lost more than half of its land property and land unity because of various laws enacted between 1950–1983. Those lands were illegally transferred or sold to various public institutions. In 1992, AOÇ was declared as 1st degree Historical and Natural Site by the Higher Conservation Board of Cultural and Natural Assets. Along with this declaration, the Conservation Board’s decisions interrupt plunder and pillage attempts over AOÇ for a while. But it did not prevent unlicensed and unauthorized constructions within the land. The Law for Amending Foundational Law of AOÇ amendment, which was enacted in 2006, led to the giving of the Farm to the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality and making upper-scale plans and development plans for conservation purposes and accordingly every kind of development plan authority. Thus, the existing agricultural areas in the AOÇ land have become dysfunctional, and construction permits have been issued in many of these areas because of wrong decisions and subsequent unplanned urbanization. In this period, not only areas haven’t been loss but also registered historical buildings constructed in the earl period of AOÇ’s establishment are destroyed. Since 2013, two large-scale projects were conducted in AOÇ lands illegally and unplanned. The first one is Ankapark Theme Park which is abandoned today is a 2.170.000 m2 entertainment area with its thematic game tents, funfair, roller coaster, excessively enlightened ornamental pool, food and beverage facilities and service areas. The second is the Presidential Complex, for which Marmara Mansion and Marmara Hotel, two heritage buildings were destroyed, has 1750 rooms, two mosques, a presidency mansion, management area, conference building, guest house, and service areas. At this point, it is observed that the political will, instead of protecting and developing this national heritage which is one of the milestones of the Republic of Turkey, heads the process of pillaging the Farmland. In consequence, to take urban growth under control, AOÇ, which was managed inadequately, couldn’t be kept as public property (Yıldırım, 2004).
2.2 The Study Area
In this research, the study site is considered as the Farmland around Ankara Stream and the region where the agricultural practices continue, and it is aimed to reevaluate the site with an integrated ecological approach (Fig. 3). For this reason, some of the urban area surrounding the farm is included in the study site to the extent deemed necessary. The study site is located in the east-west direction in the center of Ankara and is situated between Eskişehir and İstanbul Highways, surrounded by mixed-use development on the north and west. On the east, there are Ulus historical city center and Bahçelievler Housing Cooperative, Ankara intercity bus terminal, METU, Bilkent University and Hacettepe University campuses in the southern direction. The Farm, which is located at the intersection of important transportation axes, is easily accessible by public transport from anywhere in the city. Additionally, from the south of the suburban site line, interprovincial train line, and high-speed rail line are passing. In the site, there is a historical Gazi train station that carries the characteristic of the First National Architectural period. On the site, there is also the wine factory which is another early Republic period building. The wine factory, which was also manufacturing honey and fruit juice, was abandoned after its manufacturing ceased. The abandoned building was reopened in 2010 after the restoration works as AOÇ Museum and Exhibition Hall.
At the site, the steppe climate prevails. The summers are hot and dry; the winters are cold and snowy. The average summer temperatures are 30,2°C (July) and 30,4°C (August). The average winter temperatures are − 3,2°C (January) and − 2,3°C (February). The annual precipitation is 391,9 mm. May (average 51.5 mm) and April (average 42.5 mm) are the months with the most rainfall (TSMS, 2021). On the site, there is Ankara Stream which flows in the east-west direction. The green lands and forests that run parallel to the stream positively affect the site and create microclimate. The area where the AOÇ is located is 1–2°C lower than the city center (Bilgili, 2009). The farm creates air circulation in the windiest part of the city and meets the fresh air needed in the city. Also, it establishes a buffer zone for the city, which prevents poisonous gas from coming the industrial region through the prevailing North-Northeast wind.
Located in the Central Anatolian Region, Ankara shows the characteristics peculiar to Iran-Turan phytogeographical region. Due to its climate and geomorphologic features, its vegetation cover is steppe. Between the years 2010–2011, Hasan Atabaş, who is a nature photographer, conducted a photographic documentation project called AOÇ’s Wildflowers in the region. Within this documentation, he photographed 260 wildflowers and classified the samples taken from the site according to their family, type, and species with the consultancy of the Gazi University Department of Botanic. Some of the species identified include Astragalus melanophrurius, Acroptilon repens, Adonis aestivalis, Ajuga chamaepitys, Anchusa stylosa, Allium atroviolaceum, Carthamus tinctorius, Centaurea solstitialis, Cerastium perfoliatum, Cirsium arvense, Consolida regalis, Convolvulus galaticus, Datura stramonium, Descurainia Sophia, Erodium cicutarium, Fumaria officinalis, Heliotropium hirsutissimum, Hibiscus trionum, Lamium amplexicaule, Lotus corniculatus, Lycium depressum, Lythrum salicaria, Onobrychis oxyodonta, Papaver rhoeas, Salvia sclarea, Stellaria media, Turgenia latifolia, and Ziziphora capitata (Atabaş, 2014). The AOÇ is an homage and migration spot for certain bird species, including Corvus corone, Columba livia, Pica pica, Passer monranus, Erithacus ribecula, Fringilla coelebs, Dendrocopus syriacus, Psittacula krameria, and Parus major. Additionally, AOÇ is on the migration route of Ciconia ciconia species (Çavdar Sert, 2017).
Ankara Stream, which flows within the boundaries of the Farm, is the most crucial water resource of Ankara. From the early 1950s, the AOÇ stream region supplied the water needs of industrial buildings situated on AOÇ land. But domestic wastewater being discharged to Ankara Stream without sewage treatment caused high levels of pollution in the stream. As a result, many of the wells were closed, and the underground water system was affected. The pollution of the Ankara Stream and the fragmentation of productive lands have resulted in decreasing agricultural production since 1990 (Saydam Eker and Ozkan,2017). Today, the land used for agricultural production such as wheat, dry clover, pasture grass and green clover and livestock breeding covers small portions of the total land. AOÇ products stores which have operated since 1991, have a significant share in the food industry sector. AOÇ products are supplied to the public by means of national and local chain stores, institutions that carry out mass consumption, and the management’s stores.