Organic Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries

by High Atlas Foundation



 MARRAKECH- In the United States, the third Monday of January commemorates the life and pursuit of justice led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King recognized the power of service. He famously said, “Everyone can be great because everybody can serve.” Observing the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday through service is a way to begin each year with a commitment to making your community a better place.  In honor of those ideals, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) announces its commitment to planting trees annually across its project sites in the Kingdom of Morocco, and with our partners, globally.

On January 16th, HAF is planting trees with members of local communities and students of all ages in 16 provinces of Morocco at approximately 50 locations.  We hope you will join us for this moment of unity with one another, with our natural environment, and with hope for a peaceful and prosperous future.

On this day of service, HAF and our partner, the Rabat branch of the Science Teachers Association, are honored to plant trees at the Larbi Doghmi High School in Temara-Skhirat, alongside its students.  Our special guests will include United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Dwight L. Bush, Sr., and the Adviser to the King of Morocco, Mr. André Azoulay. 

HAF co-founder and President, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir highlighted the importance of the annual event, “Growing trees are an integral part of achieving the people’s development.  Who is taking this action with us in Morocco?  Interfaith groups, cooperatives of women, partners in government at all levels and civil agencies, the living honoring the departed, students of all grades, and we hope that you will if you wish.”


HAF selling carbon offsets at COP 22 from trees planted at schools


At COP 22 on November 17th, the  Foundation will host a Carbon Auction based on the 1.2 million organic fruit tree seeds we planted with Partners from all sectors in twelve nurseries located in five provinces of the Morocco.  

We established an organic enterprise that grows nurseries, strengthens cooperatives, certifies organic, and generates revenue especially for investments in human development. We achieved this for walnuts and almonds in the Commune of Toubkal, and we will also auction at COP their organic product.

We have a unique partnership with the Education Delegation of Ifrane where they lend land near schools in order for communities to grow nurseries, launching organic agriculture actions and carbon offset marketing.

Our partnership with the Moroccan Jewish Community is unique (and a CGI commitment).  The Community is now lending land nearby seven of their 600 sacred burial sites of the saints (in Al Haouz, Azilal, and Ourzazate), and we planted on two of the plots.

The High Commission of Waters and Forests lends land to HAF for organic community nurseries.  We grow from walnut and almond seeds in Tadmamt of Al Haouz, and we have regional draft agreements with Beni Mellal (for walnuts with the Ait M’hamed’s women’s association) and for Ouezzane, to expand cultivation and add value of the declining eleven Moroccan indigenous varieties of fig.

We deeply appreciate that the Center for Safeguarding Children in Oujda committed land for the project that will benefit the region and build highly employable skill of its youth residents.  The universities of Al Akhwayn (where we currently grow an almond nursery), Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah in Fez, and the Faculty of Law, Economics, and Social Science in Mohammedia have dedicated nursery land.

In Figuig, we partner to expand the cultivation of Aziza date trees.  In Boujdour province, where a community tree nursery does not exist, we have a partnership with the Nasar school to plant a nursery for the region. In Essaouira, we have a partnership with the school of Smimou for an Argan nursery.

On the 16th of January 2017 at noon, we will together plant trees--transplanted from our existing nurseries--at all the mentioned locations, with schools and communities.

Hundreds of places, including outside Morocco, may join this planting moment, which we are making an annual event on the third Monday of January.  This coincides with Martin Luther King Day of volunteerism and an early start to planting in the season.  Your Majesty, our hearts would know joy to plant beside you.

We are though without means to grow new or expand nurseries in these places, even as agreements are in place, and people are ready to work so hard.



As we find our way coming out of Ramadan and Aïd Mubarak celebrations, we are starting to prepare for planting season 2017. One of the project’s focus is the building of a community-managed tree and medicinal herb nursery in Tadmamt of the Asni Commune of the Al Haouz Province, a total of 6,000 people in 30 villages also effecting Asni, Oukaimeden, and Ourika. This beautiful region of villages sits on the northern side of Morocco’s oldest nature protected area, the Toubkal National Forest; a vibrant area of pasturelands for goat and sheep herds and a large plethora of indigenous species of vegetation.

This project of building fruit tree and medicinal herb nurseries was designed to include the community and to ensure its lifelong success and viability to the individuals profiting from it. The trees and herbs in question do not need the use of pesticides, they have a high market value, and the people maintaining them already possess the skills to maintain and market the fruit produced.

To paint a picture of the social context, the villages of the High Atlas region rank among the poorest in all Morocco. The lack of, to little, infrastructure has left communities with little presence of government institutions and services in the area. And eighty-five percent of rural households earn less than the national average and nearly eighty percent of rural economies in Morocco are supported by agricultural production. Projects like these diversify the rural economy, create employment, and help diversify diets by contributing to public health initiatives from the consumption of fruit.

Generous contributions to this unique project ensure key institutions that will support their development, culminate relationships among the local populations, and provide work across seasons. Thank you to all supporters of this project. We have made significant progress and we are excited of what is to come. Stay tuned! And until next time. 

We are now at the conclusion of the 2016 planting season and we are thrilled to report that during the last 12 weeks the High Atlas Foundation and community and civil partners planted approximately 900,000 seeds. To put this amount into perspective, it took us eleven years -from 2003-2014 - to plant our first million seeds and saplings and we have nearly planted that same amount in as many weeks. Furthermore, to get a sense of the scope of this number of trees, there are 26,000 trees, for example, in New York city’s Central Park. In total, the seeds and saplings were planted in 12 community managed nurseries in 5 different provinces and the contribution of land was provided by local cooperatives, the High Commission of Waters and Forests, the Jewish Community of Morocco, municipalities, schools, and private individuals.

 This now makes seven years in a row where HAF and its partners planted a greater number of trees than during the year prior. However, this year represents the largest increase from the previous year - we planted three times more than during the 2015 season. We also planted with a larger number of schools than we ever have in the past. This includes 113 schools in 10 provinces of Morocco. In addition to fruit trees, medicinal aromatic plants were planted by the women’s cooperative of Ourika Valley, which is a major opportunity for them since those flowers are in demand by our partner YSL Beaute.

Even as we feel grateful for these accomplishments, there are as many nurseries for which we have partnership agreements but not the funding for them to be realized. These potential nurseries include with at-risk youth who have been detained for minor crimes, on lands contributed by schools in order for those nurseries to serve their communities and province, and in an area so that we may cultivate varieties of figs that are indigenous and threatened.

In conclusion, we sincerely look forward to the 2017 planting season for which we are now preparing and we hope that it will include opportunities to help corporations achieve carbon balance, to expand to new areas, to serve people with significant needs, to benefit women and youth who are so eager to achieve their dreams if given the resources to catalyze the process, and to areas long neglected or marginalized that would most welcome participatory planning and organic agriculture so that they may achieve the future they want.

The 2016 planting season has most fortunately begun and it will continue through March. Over the next 2 months, the HAF will plant trees with 107 schools in 10 provinces. We will also plant fruit tree nurseries with rural communities, including almond and cherry. In addition, we are working to secure organic certification in a municipality called Adare, for their orchards of almonds. What is exciting about this community is that they did not plant a single pesticide-requiring tree, which makes much simpler the certification process which will be achieved for their 105 tonnes of almonds by the end of the summer. 

The planting season generates its own momentum and opportunities, meaning, that the small window of time that we are afforded to plant creates a sense of urgency and strong desire to build all possible partnerships in order that we plant the maximum possible. Growing trees and herbs is integral and an absolutely essential part of overcoming subsistence agricultural practices, which is at the root of systemic rural poverty. Thus, our hope this planting season and every season is that we and you and all we know will join together to accomplish the growing needs of rural Moroccan people and all people on earth. 

It’s also thrilling to plant with the women’s coop of the Ourika Valley in partnership with Yves Saint Laurent, where the organic herbs that are grown will ultimately be utilized in Yves Saint Laurent. And certainly last but not least, this January 25th, the HAF is signing its commitment to action with the Clinton Global Initiative and together with United States Ambassador, Dwight Bush, Jewish Advisor to the king Andre Azoulay, Mr. Younès Al Bathaoui, Governor of Al Haouz province, as well as members of the Moroccan Jewish community, from Marrakesh and further afield in the Kingdom. As signatories we will distribute and plant trees grown in nurseries on land lent in-kind by the Moroccan Jewish community. 


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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jacqueline Seeley
New York City and Marrakech, NY (US) & AlHaouz (Maroc) Morocco
$12,374 raised of $26,880 goal
111 donations
$14,506 to go
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