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

In the Tassa Ouirgane village (located in the Ouirgane municipality of the Al Haouz province), the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) assisted the local women;s group in building an organic fruit trees to benefit their region. In 2019, a new women’s cooperative - called Takherkhourt - was created as a result of the Imagine empowerment workshops to create and manage sustainable projects.

In 2020, HAF and essential partners supported the Tekherkhourt Cooperative in their preparation of the land, establishing the irrigation system, planting of seeds, maintaining the saplings, and transplanting and monitoring them with farming families in the Marrakech region. The Tassa Ouirgane nursery is now operating at full capacity, which includes 40,000 saplings of carob, walnut, olive, fig, and pomegranate.

Following the Imagine workshop, the women experienced multiple series of capacity-building sessions in agriculture, climate change, planting techniques, project management, and communication. Groups visited the nursery and met with the cooperative members, and everyone was inspired by each other and gained from the interactive experience.

As part of the Youth Conservation Program (of the U.S. Forestry Service), cooperative members attended a week of workshops in nursery management, project administration, and logistics. The Tekherkhourt Cooperative has been assisted by the Rotary Club (Washington State and Casablanca), Ecosia, United Nations Development Program, UWC-Robert Bosch College, and the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program. The Cooperative Members seek new opportunities and activities, particularly in cultivating medicinal and aromatic plants and beekeeping. The Tassa Ouirgane nursery is a story of women’s empowerment.

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On February 1st, the Farmer to Farmer (F2F) team met Mr. Lahssini, the representative of a steering group with whom High Atlas Foundation (HAF) grew a tree nursery at a school in the Bouchane municipality (Marrakech-Safi region).

The purpose of this meeting was to follow up and collect data. It was clear how they developed their vision and raised their ambitions toward making more change in the community.

“The scale of the cooperative movement matters. It is a sign of its success, built up generation by generation. But, more than this, its greatest strength lies in its ability to touch the lives of ordinary people and to inspire them with the message that, around the world, people like them, with the same hopes and fears, have managed to make their own lives better through co-operation. It is that ability that will continue to help make cooperatives even more relevant in the years to come '' explained Mr Lahssini.

The steering group shared that HAF recently provided 15,000 olive, 3,000 fig, and 2,000 pomegranate trees to improve nursery productivity. They would also like to create a women’s agricultural cooperative that works on the nursery so that they can more easily provide support and incomes to local families. 

The HAF and F2F teams will continue to provide technical support in the management of these nurseries.

These meetings are vital to improving the success and impact of HAF. F2F looks forward to its next visit to Bouchane!

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Farmer to Farmer team in the Impact Assessment sessions

Two years after starting the Farmer to Farmer (F2F) project in Morocco, the program was able to work with a wide range of agricultural cooperatives, reaching 58 agricultural cooperatives in three regions (Marrakech-Safi, Beni Mellal-Khnifra, and the Oriental region), 14 of them led by women.

Some of these cooperatives started as women's groups seeking to break out of the cycle of stagnation and neglect. Others benefited from other projects that the Foundation is working on, including the establishment of fruit trees and aromatic and medicinal plants nurseries.

Alkhayr, Takharkhourte, Aljamaane, and Azagrane Cooperatives were some of the successful cooperatives that benefited from a self-empowerment workshop, through which women got to know the extent of their abilities and their talents that had been hidden by several material, geographical, and other factors.

Through the empowerment workshop, the cooperative was able to move forward to work on its vision of establishing fruit trees and a medicinal plants nursery. Under major partnerships with Ecosia as well as the F2F program, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) supported the cooperatives to help bring their members' vision to fruition for a bright future in the region.  Despite the consequences of the COVID19 crisis, the cooperative was able to move forward and not close its doors. In less than a year, the members were able to plant more than 170,000 seeds of different types of fruit trees.

Other cooperatives were established before the program, but they lacked many skills. In contrast, these women were able to learn some of those skills through the technical assistance provided by the F2F program. Recordkeeping, feasibility studies, E-Marketing, and other training helped clarify many behaviors and also contributed to solving many obstacles and challenges faced by these cooperatives, especially during the pandemic period that was not taken into account. There are some cooperatives that took the COVID 19 pandemic as an opportunity to prepare new products. For instance, Mogador cooperative in Ounagha/Essaouira was one of those that produced liquid soap from Argan products for frequent hand-washing.

Amal cooperative in Boughriba/Berkane also changed its main activity from raising rabbits to making lemon jam and Moroccan pastries. Slimania also changed its activity and benefited from an incubator from DPA which helped to raise some money, by selling eggs and chickens. Some of the other cooperatives’ activities were stopped due to the negative effects caused by the pandemic, and most of these cooperatives were working in beekeeping. Despite the two good trainings in Guercif and Al Haouz provinces provided by Mr. Lahcen and Mr. Mustafa on how to groom queen bees, many of them lost ten of boxes either as a result of hunger or lack of monitoring and tracking.

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I recently had the pleasure of attending a Forestry Roundtable discussing the importance of forests and how to best communicate their value to a wide range of people and communities. Presented by Beyond Trees Network and The US Forest Service International Programs, our roundtable consisted of: Hon, mayor of Orea (Spain); Fernández, forester, writer, and illustrator; Roig, professor at the Forestry School in the Technical University of Madrid; Macías, urban forester; and Valbuena, forest community strategist.

Throughout our program, we heard how there is a need for better communication on behalf of forests to spread the knowledge of their necessity and benefits across many different groups of people. We heard from Mayor Corella, a spokesperson for rural communities whose livelihood is linked with the landscape, regarding the positive impact forests have on local communities.

She extrapolated to how even though these communities see these impacts firsthand, everyone is reaping the benefits. She spoke of the symbiotic relationship rural groups have with forests, and how this ecosystem not only helps these groups but also the world. Forests have a wide range of benefits, including carbon sequestration, filtering water, regulating hydraulic flow, as well as generating wild foods and sustainable products.

The problem we continued to hear during the roundtable is that there isn’t enough value placed on our forests. Forests present a difficult conundrum, where we see that many people derive so much enjoyment and use from them. However, it’s hard to accurately quantify their value. While forests that are within specific countries' borders aren’t public goods, they provide a public good for everyone in the world through carbon sequestration as well as our total Earth ecosystem.

These forests provide benefits for so many people that aren’t always immediately near them, so it is even more important to communicate accurately and effectively on their behalf. This includes creating better products to inform both children and adults of their necessity and far reaching usefulness. We need these areas to help regulate our Earth, so informing the public that they are much more valuable if preserved instead of timbered can help us have a beautiful and sustainable planet for years to come. 

We need a global effort for recognition of forests and what they mean to us as a species. Instead of cutting down more and more, we should prioritize planting and helping restore them. If our forests help us so much in the world and provide us with so many far-reaching benefits, why do we run into this problem of deforestation? It is easier to understand the monetary value of timbering than it is to understand what healthy forests from clean air and water mean to everyone in the world.

Thus, one person supposedly derives more value from cutting down the forest even though we know our society places more value on keeping them healthy. This is where communication and forestry telling can help us realize more of their intrinsic value and necessity. Hearing stories from community members close to the forests and using these stories to become closer to nature is something that can help us change our current actions.

On September 22nd, I attended another program on behalf of HAF regarding the need for forest renewal. This was titled Cities4Forests: A City Led Call to Action and focused on  what policymakers and city leaders should be doing to help support tree planting in the city limits in addition to protection of the surrounding woodland. I think this is an extremely important step in developing more of a unified approach to supporting forests.

Our cities are where most of our population lives, and they are often the most removed from nature. Pairing forestry storytelling and better communication with actual action in cities to plant more trees will help lessen the divide between nature and our urban areas.

Too often, we remove ourselves from Earth’s ecosystem and think of ourselves as existing in two different spheres: that of the human side and then all other plants and animals. Fostering more of a connection between humans and the Earth around us will not only help our planet but will also help our well-being.

Viewing and being around nature reduces stress and anger while increasing pleasant feelings, so planting city forests may have far-reaching benefits currently unknown. Educating and spreading knowledge about the benefits of forests to all our children as well as unaware adults will create a society of conscientious and informed people better able to make decisions for the good of the Earth and all those living in it.

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The work in the El Youssoufia project is in progress. Last week, we finished the installation of the solar panels. Also, we finished all the irrigation systems, and we started irrigating the nursery two days ago. We covered the nursery with plastic to keep the bags dry and warm for planting of the carob and argan seeds. 
Last week, the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer team, Zineb, Houria, Hassan, and Ahmed, the nursery volunteer-expert, met the women of Kounoze Lkdirate cooperative to build their skills in how to deal with the planting of all varieties of trees that will be in the nursery..
As the women just started occupying the nursery, they will need more training at least at the beginning of the seed planting by bringing in additional experts in that area. We are scheduling together actions in this regard.
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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
Marrakech, Morocco
$40,952 raised of $50,000 goal
526 donations
$9,048 to go
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