On June 27, 2012, Aliza and I had the pleasure of visiting two of the several High Atlas Foundation (HAF) sites. HAF is one of GlobalGiving's most active partners in Morocco with over 26 projects, 5 of which are currently listed on the GlobalGiving site. HAF has several projects in rural Berber and Arab villages in the southern part of the country. We visited their cherry and walnut tree planting project with Project Manager Abderrahim, who was kind enough to show us around, make introductions to local leaders and act as translator.
The cherry and walnut tree nursery is located in the rural village of Tadmamt. The project, to plant 50,000 walnut and cherry trees, is one of many tree nurseries HAF has started in the last two years. The trees stay in the nursery for one to two years. After this initial growing period, they are given to local families, who can sell the produce at local markets and use the seeds to plant more trees. The walnuts are a local variety, while the cherries are sometimes grafted onto local varieties.
The trees are cared for by a rotation of local volunteers from the surrounding Berber villages. One of the locals, Omar (pictured below), showed us the plants in different stages of development and the irrigation systems they created to make sure the trees get enough water in the arid climate. The nursery is located in a forest, so we also met with a government official from the forestry department to talk about the importance of the trees (they help combat soil erosion and flooding in the mountains), as well as some of the people who have received the trees.
Aliza and I learned a great deal from our morning with HAF- it was wonderful to see firsthand what an active impact the organization is having on the local communities!
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President of the High Atlas Foundation
New York City and Marrakech,
NY (US) & AlHaouz (Maroc)