Every season has its smells. When December comes, a sharp tangerine smell surrounds Bodrum. Market stalls are painted in orange. Tangerines shining like the sun, hang through the dark green leaves just to spite to the dull colours of the winter. As soon as leaving the peel, it attracts us with its pleasant scent.
The tangerine is known to have been brought from the eastern Aegean islands and Palestine in the early 20th century. With the zephyr wind circulating among its leaves, the fruit blessed by sea-scented breezes finds itself when it meets the fertile soil of Bodrum. Eventually, it becomes worldwide well-known as the Bodrum Tangerine. Finding its true ecology in Bodrum, the Bodrum Tangerine, which is the juicy and pome, owes its aroma to the fresh air and the fertile soil of Bodrum. It is the first product of Mugla that receives a geographical indication. With the support of the Bodrum Chamber of Commerce and Bodrum Citrus Producers Association, the geographical indication registration of the “Bodrum Tangerine”, which has a unique smell and taste, was realized in 2009. The trees of the “Bodrum Tangerine”, which is also called, “Fragrant Tangerine”, are of medium size and the number of branches is very high compared to other citrus species. It is easily peeled and it has a unique scent due to the oils it has in the peel. The Bodrum Tangerine has approximately nineteen cores. The tangerine trees bloom in April and May. They reach full maturity in December and have that perfect smell and taste. It is the harvest period from 15 December to the end of February.
The year 1950… The years when mainly figs, tobaccos, almonds, and wheat were grown on the Bodrum Peninsula… The paths of Bodrum and tangerines intersected in those years. Between 1947 and 1950, tangerine saplings were begun to be planted in the gardens. When the time came to the time of harvest, the arrival of the Black Sea Puller Boats was awaited. The crates, where the tangerines were carefully placed, were brought down to the beach by camels. Stopping by the shores until approaching to Yalikavak, the shipping was started from Gumbet and the crates on the shores were carried and put onto those puller boats by dories. The tangerine crates were placed in the storerooms and they were stacked on the deck when the storerooms were full. The direct destination was Istanbul... As the production increased, the market developed, eventually the Bodrum Tangerine begun to be exported. Around 625,000 tangerine trees marked the economy until the 80s. Time passed, foreigners began to discover the unique beauty of Bodrum. After the rapid development of tourism, tangerine orchards happened to be sold one by one. Tourism and agriculture could not walk together. The Bodrum Tangerine lost its economic value as a result of the wrong policies. As time went by, the gardens were replaced by residences and tourist facilities. The number of trees in the district dropped to 140,000.
No matter how desperate the picture looks, with their soils, branches, leaves, round fruits, and all their energy, the remaining tangerine trees are resisting. The “Bodrum Tangerine Harvest Festival”, which was celebrated in the last week of December, is preparing for its 14th year. At the event organized with the contributions of Bodrum Municipality and many institutions, the local value of Bodrum is aimed to be introduced and remained. Bodrum Chamber of Commerce, the BODTO, launched an important project in 2006, to revive tangerine production, to protect the existing gardens by producing products that create added value from tangerines, and contribute to the economy of the peninsula. First, the “Bodrum Citrus Producers Association” was established. The Soda, Turkish delight, and cologne of the Bodrum Tangerine were produced and placed on shelves, then the sleeves were rolled up for registration. A land, which is 8,250 square metres on Musgebi Street in Ortakent, was allocated to the union. The construction of the Citrus Growing and Packaging Plant was completed there in 2010. In 2012, with the support of the South Aegean Development Agency, the “Bodrum Tangerine Oil Miracle” project was successfully implemented. The oil obtained from the tangerine gives aroma to the tangerine delight. The BODTO has been working for the introduction and promotion of the Tangerine on every occasion. The BODTO has been working for the promotion of the Tangerine on every platform and trying to create the necessary resources in order to make sure that all the Bodrum Tangerine Soda and Turkish Delights, which are produced in the surrounding provinces, to be produced in Bodrum. Is it enough? Of course, not! There is a lot more to be done by the people in Bodrum. The rate of return of the Tangerine cannot afford pruning, irrigation, spraying and fertilizing costs yet. Therefore, many tangerine orchards across the peninsula are neglected. With all their naturalness as organic products, the resistant tangerines, share their energy, and healings.
Bodrum is beautiful with its tangerine orchards...