Turkish man keeps grandfather’s 200-year-old legacy mill alive

In the Çatalpınar district of northern Turkey’s Ordu, 61-year-old Ramadan Sarıdiken continues to serve his community by operating the four-stone water mill believed to have been established 200 years ago, a family treasure he inherited from his grandfather.

The mill was purchased and renovated in 1960 by Mustafa Sarıdiken, Ramadan Sarıdiken’s grandfather.

Ramadan Sarıdiken, the third generation operator of the family, who worked in the mill with his grandfather during his childhood, continues to serve the residents of the district with the mill’s traditional methods despite the developing technology.

Ramadan Sarıdiken told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the mill is about 200 years old and that they continue to grind flour with the four stones.

Reminiscing about his time at the mill as a child, he said: “In those years, people used to wait in line here, it was crowded. There was a lot of corn, in fact, one of the mills would grind wheat and the others corn.”

Corn meal ground at Ramadan Sarıdiken's mill in the Çatalpınar district Ordu, Turkey, Jan. 9, 2022. (AA Photo)
Corn meal ground at Ramadan Sarıdiken’s mill in the Çatalpınar district Ordu, Turkey, Jan. 9, 2022. (AA Photo)

Ramadan Sarıdiken, a father of five children, said several workers were employed in the mill during his grandfather’s time.

“We would also help. We would change our miller at night because it would be very busy. So 100 to 150 people would wait in line. We used to grind at night through to the morning; in fact, even people who couldn’t (get what they wanted due to the long line) would help us (grind).”

Sarıdiken, who is also a tradesperson in the district, drew attention to the fact that they kept the mill running to preserve it and keep the tradition alive.

“We work on Tuesdays, once a week. The market here is set up on that day. On Tuesdays, marketers bring corn from their villages. They grind it and take it in the evening. Now we only grind corn,” he said.

Ramadan Sarıdiken's mill can be seen in the Çatalpınar district Ordu, Turkey, Jan. 9, 2022. (AA Photo)
Ramadan Sarıdiken’s mill can be seen in the Çatalpınar district Ordu, Turkey, Jan. 9, 2022. (AA Photo)

Sarıdiken explained that four stones were hardly enough to carry out the work in the mill in the past years. “It was made with four stones because there was that much water. Now, there is less water and less work. Now, we are turning two stones. We continue milling in this way.”

He stated that he is the third generation in the profession and that his son and nephew are being raised as the fourth generation. “I will continue as long as I live. I don’t know what the next fourth generation will do. We will advise them to continue. We will do our best to ensure that it is not shut down.”

Çatalpınar Mayor Ahmet Türe said that he remembers the days when those who wanted to turn corn into flour at the mill were given appointments for following weeks.

Türe also referred to the importance of maintaining the historical place.

“Now, four of the stones do not grind (all the time), but at least one stone grinds on certain days of the week. So, the citizens can take care of their needs.”

Türe stated that the wooden materials used in the mill were estimated to be 150 years old and that there is no other mill with four stones in the vicinity.

Türe emphasized that in the past work at the mill was busy, someone would be there to work with the stones day and night.

“The flavor of the products that come out of these stones is really something else,” he said. “We also need to keep our history alive. We need to pass it on to future generations.”

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