This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Turkish Cypriot Cultural Association. Located in the East London Borough of Hackney, the TCCA aims to preserve and promote Turkish Cypriot culture and heritage to its members and wider society.
Its celebrations this year are taking numerous forms, one of which involved planting a tree in the borough’s Clissold Park in Stoke Newington.
On a cold, damp day on 10 March, two Hackney councillors joined members of the TCCA to plant a loquat tree, known in Turkish as “Yeni Dünya” [newfoundland / new world]. This evergreen tree produces small, sweet orange fruit, while its green glossy leaves are used in herbal teas.
In a statement to T-VINE, TCCA said they chose a Yeni Dünya tree “because it is quite widespread in the Mediterranean and because it symbolises endurance and luck. The former representing the hardships Turkish Cypriots have faced, the latter emphasising the luck brought by a ‘newfoundland’, which is the UK and London in general, and Hackney in particular.”
Councillors Caroline Woodley and Soraya Adajera were present for the tree planting, together with Sarah Watson (Programme Director – Hackney CVS), Elizabeth Green (Acting Archives Officer – Hackney Archives), and Cornelia Harrison (Step Up Progression Coach – Volunteer Centre Hackney).
After the tree planting, TCCA Trustee Halil Salih said a few words to the people who were present for the event.
“We would like to thank everyone for standing by us, literally and metaphorically. We finally have our own tree which you can see during your visits to the park; you can even taste its fruits in the years to come. In a few months, we will install a bench across our tree; you can sit on it and have a rest or read your book while enjoying the view.”
Mr Salih was followed by the two councillors, who extended their thanks to the TCCA for their contribution to Hackney and expressed their appreciation for being part of this significant milestone for the association.
The activity is part of the “Turkish Cypriots in London” Heritage Project, which has been in progress since June 2022. The work has been driven forward by Gulnur Salih, the project coordinator, and Papatya Alkan-Genca, the project officer.
The pair (shown in top photo) told T-VINE that the planting of the tree took place “only after a lengthy period of planning, numerous emails and phone calls with Hackney Council, and several in-person meetings in the park to decide on the exact location of the tree.”
“It was an arduous process; even finding an appropriate loquat tree was challenging. Despite all these challenges, however, we are happy and proud that we have finally had our tree planted.”
For those interested, the closest entrance to the Yeni Dünya tree is from the side entrance on the south of the park at Green Lanes, across from the Clissold Park Tavern (177 Green Lanes, London N16 9DB).