Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting

by High Atlas Foundation

During what has been a very exciting summer for the High Atlas Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has endorsed the High Atlas Foundation as we presses on into the fall through the “House of Life” project. The term “House of Life,” denotes a traditional name for a Jewish cemetery. The Governor of the Al Haouz Province, Younès Al Bathaoui, to employed the phrase in respect of the project, led by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in the Kingdom of Morocco and endorsed by the Clinton Global Initiative in three provinces: Azilal, Ourzazate, and Essaouira. 

The “House of Life” project works to allow low income farming families access to a new source of income and an alternative to subsistence farming by starting nurseries on land donated by Moroccan Jewish communities. Not only does this cultivate economic opportunity for those involved, it also promotes a cultural exchange between religious communities. The uniqueness of the scheme lies in its intercultural aspect. The “House of Life” project facilitates the free loan of land adjoining Jewish burial sites, in order to establish organic tree and medicinal nurseries for the benefit of neighboring Muslim farming communities.

Aided by the creation of HA3 (the High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal social enterprise), a complete process from farm to table is envisaged, thus addressing existing gaps in the organic agricultural entrepreneurial system. Organic certification, fair trade prices and wider markets – national and international - are secured for local farmers, whose communities go on to benefit from reinvestment in further projects. This endorsement with CGI poses a wonderful opportunity to continue and develop HAF’s work in Morocco. We look forward to continuing into the fall!

Sacred Land & Nursery in Akrich
Sacred Land & Nursery in Akrich

Dear all,

Ramadan Mubarak!

While the “One Billion Tree” campaign continues to extend its roots over the generously donated sacred Jewish lands within Marrakech’s Tensift-Al Haouz region, something new is sprouting up in the village of Akrich, located in the Tamesloht region.

Using the participatory method, Amina Samkane, one of HAF’s dedicated and diligent team members, has recently begun collaborating with the women of Akrich to facilitate the emergence of the Association of Al Amal for the Promotion of Rural Women and Children in Akrich. The association has 11 official members, and will benefit over 60 families within the community.

The start of the organic intercultural agricultural initiative on February 9th, saw the planting of 30,000 saplings, seeds, and two year old trees--with the ultimate goal being 80-120,000 saplings, and is projecting to benefit as many as 10,000 people. While women, men, and children alike are included in the projected beneficiary group of 10,000, men have typically been the agricultural caretakers of the community, which has left women without direct involvement in these initiatives. As Amina noted, if there is anything the women of Akrich are, it is active- in the past the women helped build the mosque in Akrich, as well as organized a program for illiteracy.

The Association of Al Amal for the Promotion of Rural Women and Children in Akrich is an initiative dedicated solely to the women of Akrich for economic empowerment. The association, as decided by the Akrich women themselves, hopes to span some 200 meters on the donated Jewish land (each meter costs 200 dirhams). Establishing this space for the association is the women’s current and top priority, followed by the development of profitable projects--such as selling cakes and artisanal crafts--and organizing the construction of a sewage system, play space for children, and a formal trash collecting service and storage facility.

Meanwhile the future of the “One Billion Tree” campaign looks bright, as the relationship between the Muslim and Jewish communities remains as strong as ever.

The High Atlas Foundation would like to extend its gratitude to all of its supporters! Thank you for helping us to achieve our mission of harboring sustainable prosperity in Morocco!

Wishing everyone a very happy Ramadan and/or wonderful summer thus far!

~The High Atlas Foundation Team~

Amina and Akrich Women Collaborating
Amina and Akrich Women Collaborating
Participatory Method-Social Mapping Up Close
Participatory Method-Social Mapping Up Close


The governor, Hon. Mr. Bathaoui, at the planting.
The governor, Hon. Mr. Bathaoui, at the planting.

Monday, February 9th, 2015 saw the start of a nation-wide intercultural organic agriculture initiative as the honorable Governor of Al Haouz, Mr. Younès Al Bathaoui, presided over a very special fruit tree distribution and planting ceremony at a sacred Jewish site. Around 150 guests - members of the local Muslim farming community and representatives of the Jewish community residing in Marrakesh – attended the event.

As part of the High Atlas Foundation’s ‘One Billion Tree Campaign’, 30,000 seeds and saplings were planted and the same number of two-year-old trees – olive, fig, pomegranate and lemon – are set to be distributed to local farmers. The trees have been raised at Aikrich, just south of Marrakesh, at the community nursery established by the foundation on land lent by the Jewish community of Marrakesh-Essaouira. The nursery is adjacent to the tomb of Rabbi Raphael Hacohen, one of several hundred sacred Jewish sites located throughout Morocco.

Including the above mentioned nursery in Aikrich, the High Atlas Foundation continues to operate tree nurseries on five plots of land surrounding Jewish cultural sites and donated by the Jewish community in Tensift-Al Haouz and Azilal provinces. These organic nurseries not only help Moroccan farmers break the cycle of poverty, but also contribute to understanding and multicultural dialogue.

During the event on February 9th, the proposed extension of this scheme across the entire Kingdom was announced, paving the way for locally-managed organic fruit tree nurseries to be developed at several hundred Jewish cultural sites for the benefit of disadvantaged Muslim farming communities. The High Atlas Foundation welcomes your participation and collaboration to develop this project further across Morocco, for the benefit of Moroccan farming families today and to help enhance the rich cultural heritage of the whole nation in the future.

The nursery in Aikrich.
The nursery in Aikrich.
The new HAF and HA3 logos
The new HAF and HA3 logos

Dear Friends, 

From all of us at the High Atlas Foundation, we extend best wishes for health and all good things.

The High Atlas Foundation also most humbly invites you to one or more symbolic tree planting ceremonies proposed for this planting season starting in January. 

Agriculturally, we assist communities currently in eight provinces of Morocco as they plant nurseries, secure organic certification, build cooperatives, benefit from training and create partnerships enabling processing and delivery of product to the global market.

We are engaged in all aspects of the value-chain – and we can report that it works with great results. We are so very grateful to our incredible partners.

HAF entered into partnerships with the High Commission of Waters and Forests, municipalities, schools, universities, associations (including the Jewish community of Morocco), cooperatives and families - all have lent land for at least five years to establish community tree nurseries.

Furthermore, HAF and it’s social enterprise HA3 have new logos that embrace what HAF stands for “Developing a self-sustaining future for Morocco.”

You may read more about what accomplishment's HAF and HA3 have achieved here.

May you have a wonderful day and we wish you all the best. 

Kind regards, 

The High Atlas Foundation Team

HA3 workers shelling organic certified walnuts
HA3 workers shelling organic certified walnuts


Volunteers at the nursery
Volunteers at the nursery

Due to the success of the community tree nursery on arable land lent by the Jewish Community of Marrakech, located near the village of Akraich in the Al Haouz province, the Moroccan Jewish community has lent an additional four parcels of land for nurseries.  Three of the added parcels are in the Al Haouz province, and the fourth is located in the Azilal province.  The High Atlas Foundation is also developing a partnership with the Moroccan Jewish Community of Casablanca in order to build a community tree nursery on their land located in the region of Ourzazate.

Larbi Didouqen, the co-Vice President of High Atlas Foundation aids in the management of one of these nurseries in Akraich. Recently, trees have been planted in the primary school, specifically eucalyptus, fig, and pomegranate trees. These fruit and medicinal trees not only combat deforestation and desertification, aiding in environmental sustainability, but they also provide added sources of income for the rural community in Akraich.

Because of this especially hot & dry summer, a local development association offered to assist in irrigation for this nursery. Generally, the well is sufficient throughout the year, but this sunny and hot summer proved the need for assistance. A special thanks goes to this association, for without their help with irrigation and materials, the nursery would have suffered.

These projects alleviate rural poverty by providing fruit trees that grow organically, while also building productive partnerships among Morocco's ethnic and religious groups.

Irrigation of nursery
Irrigation of nursery
Nursery in Akraich
Nursery in Akraich

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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, Morocco
$8,672 raised of $28,000 goal
60 donations
$19,328 to go
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