Organic Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries

by High Atlas Foundation

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. 

Women in Ourika
Women in Ourika

The women of the cooperative in Ourika are seeking an area where they can produce food products (for example, couscous) and articles of clothing. In addition, they are working to identify land upon which they can plant a nursery that will include marigold, nigella, and pomegranate. Toward the identification of a building where the women’s cooperative members can work, the provincial and municipal authorities have recommended a school building that has not been in use for the past 15 years. Together with the HAF, we are now in the process of developing a contract that will transfer the right of occupancy to the cooperative for a 90 year period.

In regards to securing land in order to secure the nursery, we have submitted a request to the regional management of Waters and Forests. The goal is to transfer land located in the Ourika valley to the cooperative in order to plant these two herbs and one tree, all of which can be grown organically. The municipal and provincial authorities have also recommended land in order to establish the nursery, however the parcel is no longer available and the local government authorities are determining another recommendation.

We thank Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, both for supporting women in establishing a productive cooperative in terms of artisanal and agricultural initiatives, as well as in committing to buy those products, without which income and opportunities would not be assured.

Women in Ourika
Women in Ourika


UNDP GEF SGP & HAF Team Group Shot
UNDP GEF SGP & HAF Team Group Shot

Salaam Alaikum (Peace be with you) to all,

On June 11th the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Director of Agricultural Programs, Larbi Didouqen, Director of Development, Jacqueline Seeley, and the General Manager for HAF’s HA3 initiative, Ignacio Trincado Ruiz, joined high profile members of the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF SGP) from all over the world for a tour of HAF’s value chain process from Tadmamt to Ijoukak.

Nestled within the High Atlas Mountains, the Tadmamt locality lies within Marrakech’s Tensift-Al Haouz region. In 2015 HAF facilitated the planting of 320,000 seeds and saplings in 8 nurseries and 85 schools within the Tamamt communities. Recently HAF earned the revered visit of the UNDP GEF SGP through these record-breaking success rates during the 2015 planting season, in combination with commitments to sustainability and participatory practices advocated by the UNDP GEF SGP. HAF’s partnership with the UNDP GEF SGP began in 2013, when the program honored HAF with a SEED (Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship) award.

Facilitated by Morocco’s UNDP GEF SGP representative Ms. Badia Sahmy, the tour began with HAF’s environmentally-mindful missions in Tamamt and Asni. Projects in these regions maintain goals such as preventing forest degradation while encouraging forest preservation through the native and environmentally conscious and profitable walnut and almond plants. The HAF team and the UNDP GEF SGP members then traveled to Ijoukak to behold HAF’s initiatives with various cooperatives, such as medicinal plant and women's cooperatives, all of which maintain a careful regard for the environment and natural resources.

The UNDP GEF SGP prides itself on its mission of “thinking globally acting locally.” The program concludes that environmental and community well-being improvement projects are mutually beneficial and that maximum prosperity emerges through effective collaboration between the two.  

Our organization is honored to achieve such recognition for its work, and is grateful for the tremendous and continuous help and encouragement from its supporters, both local and global alike. HAF would therefore like to extend a great thank you to all those who have followed us, believed in us, and supported us along the way. Let’s keep up the good work!

Warmest wishes,

The High Atlas Foundation Team

HAF's Si Larbi Didouqen Explains Tadmamt Project
UNDP GEF SGP Members Plant Tree in Tadmamt Nursery
UNDP GEF SGP Members Plant Tree in Tadmamt Nursery



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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
$10,464 raised of $26,880 goal
95 donations
$16,416 to go
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