Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries

by High Atlas Foundation Vetted since 2006 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Project of the Month Site Visit Verified
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

On Wednesday the 14th of May, members of the High Atlas Foundation’s team visited Tassa Ouirgane to conduct a women’s empowerment meeting and pay a visit to the foundation’s nursery there. The team consisted of Amina El Hajjami, HAF’s Director of Projects, and Hassan Ait Ouatouch, HAF’s Project Assistant, as well as me. The field visit started in the morning by meeting first with some local farmers in the village next to the nursery. The plants there include pomegranate, olive, and walnut, and have grown rapidly—particularly the pomegranate plants. Amina supervised the work in the nursery and the technical aspects of irrigation, and the United Nations Development Program is financing the multi-faceted program. We engaged with the farmers who were present in conversation about the nursery and farming in the village in addition to both its challenges and promising factors.

We later met with the girls and women of Tassa Ouirgane’s new Cooperative for Medicinal Plants. Amina discussed with this group of women the name they chose for the cooperative as well as their previous conversations regarding the cooperative’s activities. In addition, the members addressed the type of plants they brought, their uses, and names in Tamazight, including “Tikida” and “Timija.” Most importantly, Amina opened a discussion about the legal and administrative procedures to finish establishing the cooperative. Notably, most of the women need to first organize prerequisite documents of their own, such as their national ID, in order to have the right to collect the cooperative’s legal documents. Further, Amina discussed the organizational side of the cooperative: abiding by the internal law, embodying its values, assistance, democratically electing the office members of the cooperative, having a fixed price for their products, and selling profitable products were among the emphasized topics for which members had to agree upon.

Both developmental projects of the nursery and the newly established women’s cooperative have an effective impact on the beneficiary groups in Tassa Ouirgane. The nursery, for which the village’s local association is responsible, provides various trees for planting each year. The women’s Cooperative of Medicinal Plans will also have a sustainable outcome, not only for its members but also their families and school children whom they will be capable of supporting financially. The two aforementioned projects can in fact lead to achieving multiple developmental goals at the same time.

On Thursday, the 28th of March, the team of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) visited with HAF Board Member Martine Roberts the nurseries of Akrich, Imegdal, and Tadmamt. Our first stop was the Akrich nursery where HAF planted over 30,000 almond and fig seeds.

All seeds and cuttings in the nursery are covered with black plastic to increase soil heat and moisture, which enables them to grow faster. Furthermore, all seeds and cuttings are watered regularly using drip irrigation, which provides exactly the right amount of water for every sapling and thereby conserves the precious water resource.

The wonderful aspect about this nursery is its cultural value. While being a nursery, which provides much needed tree saplings to communities all over Morocco, the place is also a Jewish cemetery, where the saint Raphael Ha Cohen is buried. Many pilgrims visit regularly to pray for good health for themselves and their loved ones at the tomb of the Saint, who was known for his healing powers.

After our visit to the nursery and cemetery, we enjoyed a homemade breakfast and then set out for the next nursery in Imegdal. On our way to Imegdal we admired the beautiful countryside along the Ouirgane Dam.

At the Imgdal nursery, HAF planted over 30,000 walnut and 6000 almond seeds as well as thousands of medicinal plants (sage, pelargonium, rosemary, and Cyprus). In addition to walnut, almond, and medicinal plants, the Imgdal nursery is also specialized in the germination and plantation of argan seeds. Hassan, the nursery caretaker, showed us how to prepare the argan seeds for germination in a greenhouse, which is necessary to protect the seeds from harsh weather conditions and to provide the necessary heat.

We also talked to Hassan about the irrigation system. He showed us the water storage on top of a hill, which is connected through pipes to the nursery. It was very clear how committed he is to the nursery and how much care he gives, much like a father for his kids. He proudly explained to us that some plants in the Caddi Ayad University are named after him.

Afterwards we headed to the last nursery of Tadmamt, which is one of the biggest HAF nurseries and currently keeps over 1500,000 seeds of almonds, walnut, and cherry.

After spending the whole day exploring these three beautiful nurseries, we gained good insight into the techniques used in the nursery to ensure successful germination and growth and we experienced the dedication and care that is given to each individual seed and cutting. Our field visit finished with a feeling of sincere appreciation of HAF’s work, which creates life and hope with every single sapling given to a community member.

Yesterday, I had another great experience as part of the HAF volunteer team. We left the HAF office around 1:00 p.m. and headed toward the mountains. We arrived in the Setti Fatma commune and the landscape was even more beautiful. It was possible to have a great view of the snow on top of the mountains.

  

We walked a bit until we reached the planting area. Some holes were already dug. I confess that I even tried to start digging a hole, but a farmer seeing my work came politely and asked me to let him continue digging the hole ... maybe it was better .

 

After a few minutes, OCP volunteers arrived to plant the trees too. They distributed gloves to help with planting and then began. You could see the smile on each one's face, as every person placed her or his knee on the ground, picked up the seedling and put it in the hole. I took some photos of the moment and talked with the volunteers. The question was always the same: "Where are you from?" "How long have you been here?" "Are you enjoying Morocco?"

  

After planting the trees, it was time for rest. Underneath a tree, delicious tea was prepared by the community and OCP volunteers brought some food. Everyone was sitting and talking, enjoying the moment. With the sun went down we picked up the things from the picnic and left the planting area.

  

We headed toward a home of a community member. There, we were welcomed by several women, the farmers and a old man. There were several children in the house and they all looked at us with their eyes shining. We took some photos with the people that were there and we went back outside to return home.

 

While we waited for the car, I discovered that old man in the house owned the land we planted. The land is three hectares long and he ceded it to the community. I also discovered that there is an association of farmers who care for this land. I think that attitude was very noble.

 

Finally, when asking the farmers about the future, the answer was that with this they hope to be able to help the children and women of the community to have a better future. Then our car arrived. We said goodbye to everyone and headed back to Marrakech.

  

On the way, I came to think about the attitude of all those people. The way the farmers are dedicated to the community is so noble. It was lovely to take part of that day and get to know more about the history of the local people of Setti Fatma.

 

Thank you HAF for this opportunity!

On Monday, project manager Said Bennani, volunteer Celina, and I began our weeklong excursion to Fez and Midelt for environmental workshops and tree-planting activities.  On Tuesday, we visited the Abdelaziz Ben Driss child protection center to conduct an environmental workshop with the boys, plant trees, and help load 7,100 saplings to be planted in Midelt this week.  Students from the Spring Arbor University in Michigan, USA, joined us for the tree-planting activities.  We had a lively day, inspired by the caretaker’s thoughtful tree nursery management and the boy’s enthusiastic involvement.

  

We started the day by visiting the tree nursery, which was spread across different plots within the center.  The local association, which organizes activities for the boys at the center, began the nursery in collaboration with HAF in May 2017.  On the way to the nursery, we admired a solar pump, supplying the energy required to extract water from a well.  Then, we met with the nursery’s caretaker, Khalid Naji, and he described the nursery conditions and progress in caring for the saplings, which were of the almond, olive, fig, carob, cherry, and pomegranate varieties.  Moreover, he showed us various aromatic and medicinal plants cultivated at the center and explained their beneficial properties.  All HAF partner nurseries are raised organically, and HAF encourages sapling recipients to continue to cultivate trees organically, for not only the environmental benefits but also for the increased value of accessing the organic market.

  

When the group of 23 students and their professors from the Spring Arbor University arrived, we began our environmental workshop with a group of boys from the protection center.  The University students came from a variety of majors and they were all interested in increasing their understanding of multiculturalism.

  

Said facilitated a workshop for the boys to better understand their relationship with their environment.  The University students participated by listening and asking the boys questions.  When Said asked the boys about their experiences with the agricultural activities in the center, one boy described how much he liked outdoor activities and how he had learned so much from Khalid about planting trees and using drip-irrigation techniques to water them.  Another boy added how his family used to purchase large trees and manually water them, but after engaging with the centers nursery, he now understands the transformation of trees from seeds and how to use drip-irrigation techniques to more efficiently care for seedlings.  When a University student asked the boys about their favorite part of the tree-rearing process, they nearly simultaneously agreed on the satisfaction of harvesting (and consuming!) tree fruit.

 

Following the workshop—together with the university students and the children—we planted six cherry trees, that the nursery plans to use for seed saving, rather than consumption, contributing to efforts to keep the nursery self-sufficient.

  

In the afternoon, we began loading olive, pomegranate, fig, and almond saplings into a truck for a tree-planting event in Midelt this Thursday.  Prior to loading them, we carefully extracted them from the ground and bagged them to preserve root moisture and, thus, maintain plant viability.

  

Said and Tarik Sadki—a member of the Karama association in Midelt—reminded the boys of the value of their contribution: as the ones who helped sow and care for the saplings, the kids were directly improving and supporting people’s livelihoods for years to come.  The HAF team and the local association are now in Gourrama commune, where we will facilitate environmental workshops and distribute trees to communities.  In this week, we have seen how tree-planting can be a vehicle for promoting cross-collaborative sustainable development, led and defined by communities, involving children, youth, adults, and local associations, to improve people’s lives across regional boundaries.

 

We thank Ecosia for funding the Abdelaziz Ben Driss nursery; without their support, these transformative experiences could not have been possible.
  

 

Greetings Friends,

 

Here we have a final moment in 2018 where we can give to uplift the course of families, communities, schools, cooperatives, women's groups, and youth.

 

Morocco is creating opportunities for its people by encouraging through its policies and programs public participation in all aspects of development. For local communities of the nation to fulfill this enormous opening for transformative change, also means that Morocco can become a hugely important model for other countries of Africa and the Middle East.

 

Here is one action we can take now together to fulfill this hope:

 

It is amazing the varied and profound benefits of organic fruit tree planting.  It promotes livelihoods, the environment, food security, nutrition, trade, culture, and self-reliance. It promotes women's liberationyouth’s advancement, and - when we organic certify their cultivation - tree planting brings growth and justice to communities that are marginalized.

 

Plant with us now before the season ends in March. Together we can achieve these truly good outcomes for people and nature, and to realize Moroccan dreams.

 

Most of all, we at the High Atlas Foundation wish you health, success, joy, fulfillment, and all that your heart seeks for yourselves and communities.

 

With warm regards and gratitude,

 

Yossef Ben-Meir
President
High Atlas Foundation
yossef@highatlasfoundation.org

 

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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @haffdtn
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
Gueliz, Marrakech, Morocco
$25,378 raised of $36,000 goal
 
203 donations
$10,622 to go
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