Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries

by High Atlas Foundation
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Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries

January is the traditional tree-planting season in Morocco, meaning that right now, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) is gearing up to take on new tree-planting project ideas that are springing up across the country. Last week, I joined Errachid, HAF’s project manager, on his site visits to find out more about these projects, how they will benefit local communities and their contribution to sustainable development. 

“Ait Ourir Bridge Center”, Ait Ourir

One beneficiary of HAF’s project will be the “Ait Ourir Bridge Center”, a language school for both children and adults in the town. Students here learn English in intensive 3-month programmes, and also have the opportunity to take part in exchanges with foreign students, namely those with English as their native language, to share cultural and linguistic experiences.

The project’s aim is to sign a partnership with six schools in the locality, who have asked for fruit trees to be planted in their grounds. The schools will then sell the fruit in order to reinvest the money into other projects. The exchange students and the Bridge Center’s students will conduct the planting together, to benefit simultaneously from knowledge of planting and learning a language. It is also hoped that there will be many activities and workshops surrounding the tree-planting involving the school-children.

HAF is forging a link between the AOBC and their project, covering the costs of the tree-planting and nurseries, as well as providing other incentives for participation in the project, such as sanitation and clean water. It is also hoped that the project will engage the Delegation of Education and the Governor of the region in the activities to highlight the importance of environmental education.

 

“Centre Pour le Sauvegarde de l’Enfance”, Marrakech

The Centre for the Protection of Children, or “Centre Pour le Sauvegarde de l’Enfance” in Marrakech is home to 35 boys and 45 girls under 18 years of age. It is both a home for children who have been involved in criminal activities or those who have nowhere else to go, and responsible for these children’s re-education and day-to-day care.

The Centre would like to plant trees in its grounds to be able to sell the fruits for additional income, to provide quality educational activities for the children. The project will consist of approximately 50 olive and carob trees over an area of 15m2. They also wish to start a tree nursery on the site in future.

HAF hopes to also conduct workshops with these children to work out their needs and assess where it is appropriate to provide assistance alongside the tree-planting project.

 

Bouchane Secondary School, Bouchane

Currently educating 1102 students, Bouchane school is a previous beneficiary of HAF projects. In 2014, HAF helped the school to plant 300 olive, pomegranate and lemon trees as well as herbaceous and medicinal shrubs.

It now wants to expand its project by starting up a pilot tree nursery for the region, equipped with a greenhouse and with water-saving measures. Over time, they hope that the nursery will provide trees for farmers, other schools and co-operatives in the region, and even further afield.

They will focus on planting olive and carob trees, as they are both suitable for the dry soils of the province, but also generate good income. This money will then be used to reinvest in other projects which will benefit the school.

Like the Ait Ourir Bridge Center, the Bouchane school also want to involve the governor of the province as well as other officials in the project and to sign a partnership agreement with the Delegation for Education.

 

Miara Jewish Cemetery, Marrakech

Inside this peaceful walled cemetery in the heart of Marrakech, a tree-planting project is underway. The guardians wish to plant 60 olive and 30 carob trees in the grounds of the cemetery, lining the walkways and providing shade over the area.

Preparations are already underway, with holes dug into the ground and an irrigation system set up to provide water for the saplings when they arrive.

The fruit trees will help to make guardianship of the cemetery, a place which has remain unvandalised for over 500 years, a financially viable position for the future.

  

Tagelft Lycée and Middle School, Tagelft

Due to deforestation and the removal of vegetation, soil erosion is a big problem in the High Atlas Mountains. Snowmelt in the spring can also lead to bad flooding, also partly due to the lack of trees.

The remote mountain community of Tagelft is hoping to combat this problem in part by commencing a tree-planting project in both its Lycée and its Middle School. This will help to stabilise soils and to provide a greener and more attractive learning environment for its pupils.

Although this project is still in its infancy, it is hoped that the site could host between 300-500 trees, seedlings of which could be given to local farmers to supplement incomes and instigate a culture of tree-planting in the region. It will also provide the opportunity to deliver workshops on environmental education and to raise awareness of the importance of trees for mountain communities.

 

Manon is a post-graduate student of Human Ecology at Lund University, Sweden

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The planting season, which starts Morocco in December and concludes in March, is like no other time of year. It offers a window for sowing the best of benefits this world could offer--sustenance, livelihoods, flourishing nature, and justice, for now and for generations. This precious time opens its door in just six weeks, and for the sake of doing all we can to reap its benefits, we must prepare.


The High Atlas Foundation has the enormous responsibility to transplant from its nurseries nearly one million organic fruit saplings with family farmers and schools in all regions of Morocco.  And then, we must replant more than one million in those expanding nurseries.

It is truly no understatement to say that your partnership will not only help us achieve this goal for rural communities in all parts of the nation, but also the dreams of the incalculable more who so eagerly seek and need this opportunity.

If you have been inclined to give, please give nowIf you have felt the urge to immerse your hands in earth, please do so with us. Tree planting is about women's empowerment,intercultural solidarityand youth's opportunity.


We kindly ask, try your best to plant where you are, and with us.

Wishing you happy planting, now and forever,

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In a little under just one week, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has met with members of 21 cooperatives throughout four provinces of the Oujda Region in Morocco. We have learned the stories behind the development of their cooperatives, about their products, unique manufacturing techniques, the highs and the lows of establishment, ongoing challenges, and impressive achievements. These details, of course, differ across each cooperative, but one common sentiment was reiterated time and time again: members from provinces stretching across Oujda have all shared gratitude for the knowledge and skills they acquired through HAF’s cooperative-building training, made possible by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

 

While we are overjoyed to hear the different ways in which our MEPI-funded training has significantly impacted the progress of cooperatives in Oujda, we recognize that is just the beginning of how we can help pave the way to success.  We assist along many steps, such as helping cooperatives build relationships with their provincial authorities.  On September 9th, HAF staff met in one large room with members of seven cooperatives of the Guercif province. It is perhaps no coincidence that facilitating a meeting utilizing the participatory approach—the very core of all of HAF’s sustainable development projects—proved to be extremely fruitful.

 

One result of having a participatory meeting with multiple cooperatives was the revelation of the commonalities and shared needs among the large group, followed by equally beneficial solutions. For example, Haoud Jdi and Elmanousri are two women’s cooperatives, both established in 2017, that sell food products: olives and couscous, and cookies and couscous, respectively. Each cooperative expressed a need for a central location for production as it would not only be more able to acquire certification from the food inspectors and thus enable the product to reach national markets, but also increase the quantity of their products made daily. Seeing this shared need between two similar cooperatives, HAF President, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, suggested Haoud Jdi and Elmanousri join forces for shared benefit. The women agreed and identified a goal to submit a proposal to their local governmentto create a coalition, including an invitation to a third women’s cooperative, and identify with them available land and a building structure for their production activities.

 

The participatory meeting also consequently highlighted the importance for cooperatives to consider how they can bridge their internal resources (i.e., skills) with their external ones (i.e., funding, land, etc.). For example, the TamzrayneCooperative, created in 2009, sells oil from different medicinal plants, mostly rosemary flowers. They have a partnership with Morocco’s High Commission of Waters and Forests, which has provided 3,000 hectares from where they can harvest the wild medicinal plants, and they also have members who skillfully sell their products. Again, seeing the cooperative’s strengths, Dr. Ben-Meir suggested Tamzraynemaximize the use of their resources and widen their cooperative’s production, based on the vision of the cooperative members. Specifically, since theyalready have land, water, and members skilled in selling plants and plant products, it would be feasible to establish fruit tree nurseries and cultivation (carob and nuts), thereby giving them the opportunity to make more profit from additional products. 

 

Further, the meeting exposed to cooperative members the significance of considering what resources they already have or that they can access on their own. Several cooperatives reported utilizing the ministries and other agencies to submit project proposals for potential partnership-building and financial support. The Hikma Agriculture Cooperative, for example, submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture to fund land, water well construction, supplies, and a building for production. On the other hand, the men’s bread-baking cooperative, Chebab Hamria, used their existing network to secure a production site rent-free for six months.

 

Over the course of HAF’s Oujda trip thus far, it has been made clear that trainings such as our MEPI-funded cooperative-building training is vital for giving members the tools, resources, and confidence to pursue their goals. Attending the workshop gave participants knowledge about how to establish their cooperatives as well as helped them acquire or build upon skills necessary for managing successful businesses. However, it has also been made clear that beyond knowledge and skills-building training, cooperative members need guidance on how to utilize not only already-existing resources but also how to team-up and utilize each other for shared benefit. The participatory planning meeting in Guercif proved to be a crucial tool that cooperatives can use to identify common needs and share experiences. Moving forward, HAF will urge members of different cooperatives within one municipality or province to develop a supportive network through the participatory approach as we continue our efforts to help cooperatives throughout Morocco excel.

Help enable cooperative development.

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On June 15th, 2004, Morocco and the United States signed their free trade agreement. In addition to removing informational frictions and trade barriers between them, these countries committed to sustainable environmental protection through consistent enforcement and administration of environmental laws.  In the environmental chapter, the two nations clarify how they would enact this protection, preventing harm to human, animal, and plant health.

The free trade agreement recognizes the dangers of pollutants, contaminants, toxic materials, and the consequential need to prevent and control their dissemination. It also upholds the protection of wild or endangered flora and fauna, as well as their habitat and other natural areas. It then outlines how violators would be prosecuted. While they are protected by rule of law, the process requires violators be effectively sanctioned, considering numerous factors such as the nature and gravity of the violation, and their economic condition. Any concerned person may request that the government investigate alleged violations, receive due consideration, and get appropriate access to the proceedings. This formally establishes the due process for victims of environmental degradation.

However, each country retains the right and authority to draft and enforce laws for domestic environmental protection. Notably, the countries explicitly recognize that they cannot compromise their environmental protection laws for more investment or trade. In the face of economic temptation, they committed to maintaining their environmental standards. In fact, they view environmental protection as a pathway to more international investment and development, especially with the growth of the environmental technology industry. As such, they intend to implement incentive structures so that companies will voluntarily act to protect the environment, such as public recognition for nature protection and credit trading programs. They also support partnerships between businesses, local communities, NGOs, government agencies, and scientific organizations.

Moreover, the agreement asserts ways that the governments can act to ensure that environmental protection is sustainable. It emphasizes public participation opportunities, recognizing the need to engage civil society in understanding environmental policy. In order for innovative environmental protection approaches to become widespread, the people need to learn about them, understand them, become interested, and act. Thus, the two governments have agreed to provide opportunities for the public to contribute agenda topics, opinions, and advice. Also, each country is to consult a national advisory committee that includes representatives of both environmental and business organizations, as well as members of the public. This agreement promises that the two countries will inform the people and be open to discussion for environmental regulations.

The trade agreement continues beyond this mutual commitment to each other. They are to collaborate with each other for environmental policies and standards, exchanging expertise, hosting joint seminars and training sessions, and otherwise sharing information. In this way, they can both build their capacity to develop and conserve natural resources together. They established a Working Group on Environmental Cooperation, comprised of government representatives from both countries. They have also created a Joint Committee to give recommendations for a Plan of Action, and identify priority projects for environmental cooperation.

Traditionally, it has been argued that free trade agreements would bring about environmental degradation, but this one has promised to enhance  environmental cooperation between Morocco and the United States. Liberalization ought to increase Morocco’s access to environmentally friendly technologies and encourage an exchange of expertise with the U.S. government. In addition, the agreement emphasizes public participation through emboldening the civil community to seek knowledge and take action to protect their environment. In working together and signing this agreement, the two countries demonstrated hope to strengthen their economies and protect their lands.

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I’m volunteering with High Atlas Foundation through a sabbatical option at my not-for-profit organization in the United States. While I’ve learned a great deal here about sustainability, community empowerment, and agriculture, seeing a new nursery take form from the beginning stages has been one of my unexpectedly exciting experiences here.

From July 20 through July 22, HAF's Project Manager and I traveled to the new nursery HAF is establishing in Oujda in partnership with a youth protection center. This new partnership includes about 1.5 hectares of land to use for planting, once cleared of brush and weeds. On arriving at the site, we took an inventory of the work that’s been done already, and what’s to come.

In the short time since starting the partnership, HAF has cleared a small piece of the land and prepared over 20,000 soil bags for both argan and carob seeds. During our visit, we worked to move the nursery forward by purchasing carob seeds, as well as moving the pre-soaked argan seeds into their next stage of growth.

Argan seeds, notoriously hard to crack, take time to grow. Because of that, we’ve taken the seeds and buried them in layers of sand and soil with plastic underneath, to keep them extra moist while sprouting. The new nursery groundskeeper will keep a close eye on the sprouts and move them individually to be planted as they emerge.

The groundskeeper and directors of the youth protection center have involved the children in the process from this early stage. Being involved will empower them with structure, education, and positive role models and leadership, while deriving direct benefits for hundreds of Moroccan families who will ultimately be the recipients of these trees.

Give to this empowering project.

 

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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
Marrakech, Morocco
$40,692 raised of $50,000 goal
 
513 donations
$9,308 to go
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