Since we reported last, the Dar Taliba students are back at their all-girls boarding house after a long summer vacation from school. We are very excited to share that we have started the new school year with an exciting series of permaculture trainings in collaboration with our partners Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association and Radiant Design.
Together with Dar Taliba Director Jamila and our colleagues Cécile and Laila from the Radiant Design team—an all-girls team this year—we’ve carried out eight training sessions in the garden since the beginning of the school year, which began late September.
At the start of every school year, new students enrol at Dar Taliba and this year was no exception with 52 new girls in residence. Although I was excited to reconnect with last year’s group, I was pleased to see so many new faces such as Iman and Amina. “We’re cousins but we had never met until a few weeks ago when we both started school here”, Iman, aged 12 said. “It’s our first time working in the garden and we really like it”.
We kicked off this year’s programme with trainings on seeds; we taught the students how to collect, clean and plant them while also educating them about the importance of the soil quality when collecting seeds. “The seeds from our garden are better than the ones we would buy in the market”, said Dar Taliba student Salma, when Cécile asked why we are collecting seeds directly from the vegetables we planted last year. “We know the vegetables and the soil in the garden have not been treated with chemicals”, she explained.
During these trainings, we split the group into two teams. One team, led by Cécile, started their training with the collection and cleaning of vegetables seeds. Over the past few months, the gardeners have been drying the last of the summer vegetables, including eggplants and cucumbers, which the girls had planted before summer vacation. Now, the students were able to slice the vegetables open and gather, clean and dry all the seeds inside. “I had no idea there were so many seeds inside!”, Asma said while collecting seeds from an eggplant.
The second team started their work in the garden where Laila taught the girls about the different steps and techniques available to plant vegetables seeds. With little bags full of turnip, green bean and spinach seeds, the girls paired up and assigned each other different tasks such as planting the seeds, measuring the distance between the planted seeds and covering the holes with earth after. Once they were finished planting, it was their turn to collect and clean seeds, so they switched places with the other team. Rotating the teams during their garden work allows every student to get the most out of each training.
In between these garden trainings, my colleague Hajar and I organised a drawing activity at Dar Taliba with 30 girls last month. After a short introduction about our different projects within the High Atlas Cultural Landscape programme—of which targeted outreach to youth and students on traditional plant knowledge is an important part—we did a brainstorming exercise on local food, herbs, plants and trees to find out which products are found in their households and which crops are grown in their communities. Hajar and myself—both not talented in drawing—were happy to see the result of their drawings and to find several creative little artists in the group! “I made a drawing of wheat because where I come from there are many wheat fields and people working the land”, Meryam, aged 14, said. “I have cut wheat myself several times out in the field”. The drawings produced during these sessions will be used to create a “local household basket booklet”, which will feature 50 local and useful plants and plant products.
Over the next few months, we are planning to invite local plant experts to join our trainings in the plant nursery to support and encourage the Dar Taliba students to learn more about Amazigh indigenous plants from their communities, located in the High Atlas mountains.
Thanks to the generous support of our GlobalGiving donors, we are able to continue our garden trainings throughout the school year during which they will learn valuable skills such as seed saving and expand their knowledge on valuable local plants.
Until our next report, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram or visit our website for more updates about the activities and progress made in the Dar Taliba garden. Thanks again to all our supporters for making these valuable trainings happen!
We are in the midst of a hot summer here in Morocco—life usually slows down around August due to the weather and family holidays. Although the Dar Taliba students have returned home to their families for a two-month school vacation, our team has been busy taking care of the gardens and developing an exciting programme for the girls once they return in September.
At the end of June, we completed our first school year of weekly permaculture trainings with a series of practical workshops on composting and water management in collaboration with our partner, Radiant Design. In addition to these workshops, the girls learned how to make an all-natural, organic and non-toxic insecticide with black soap, which has anti-bacterial and natural insecticide qualities. “I think it’s very important the girls learn natural ways to fight bacteria and insects that can threaten all the fresh crops they have been growing over the past months”, Dar Taliba gardener Lhoucine says.
On the last day of the school year, we gathered the Dar Taliba students in the garden and harvested a beautiful mix of potatoes, lettuce, green beans, onions and lots of fresh medicinal and aromatic plants such as thyme. Everyone took home a basket filled with fresh organic produce, grown by the students during their trainings. We hope their families will be as impressed as we are with the delicious results of their hard work!
Until the girls return from their summer vacation in a few weeks, our team will have their hands full managing the new irrigation system and the construction of a brand-new seed bank which will play an important role during their trainings next year. We’ve also recently welcomed two families of bees to the Dar Taliba gardens, who have now found their home in two hives located between the vegetable and aromatic plant gardens. We can’t wait for the girls to meet our new friends and learn about the importance of bees for the environment, (not to mention taste their delicious honey and explore its medicinal uses)!
Thanks to the generous support of all our GlobalGiving donors, we are able to start developing an exciting programme of weekly permaculture trainings for the Dar Taliba students. These will enable the girls to grow many more delicious vegetables to bring home to their families, and learn new skills, such as seed saving. We can’t wait to see all the girls and start working with them again very soon.
Until then, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or visit our website for more updates!
Over the past three months, the Dar Taliba boarding house gardens have flourished. The girls have harvested lots of delicious vegetables, enough to provide weekly school meals for all 130 girls currently in residence. “The vegetables from our garden which the girls have planted taste much better than the ones from the souk (local market),” Dar Taliba gardener Al Hoessein says.
Since our last report, the Dar Taliba students received more trainings on planting vegetable seeds and successfully cultivated over 3,100 seeds in the greenhouse! The girls took such good care of their seeds that everyone was able to take vegetable seedlings, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans, home to their families during last month’s vacations. Based on the practical planting skills they developed during these sessions, we are confident they will successfully raise these vegetables in their home gardens. “We mainly grow fruit in our garden, mostly apples and plums,” Meryam, aged 12, says. “I’m really excited to take these vegetables home and plant them in our garden with my mom.”
With the arrival of spring and some unexpected rainfall in April, the girls have been very busy with the maintenance, harvesting and daily running of the gardens. As part of these spring gardens preparations, we delivered 20 permaculture trainings with our partner Radiant Design during which the girls learned new skills, such as mulching. This technique is very valuable as it keeps down weeds, retains the soil’s moisture and protects the soil from drying out, especially during hot summers. The mulch the girls used during these trainings consisted of organic material harvested in the garden.
“I really enjoy working with my hands, especially when we are planting seeds,” Kaoutar, aged 14 says. “When we have a break in between classes we often go to the gardens to watch how the vegetables are growing.” Check out our latest video to watch how the girls are practicing new skills during their trainings.
The girls demonstrated some other fine skills when they created handmade clay plant labels for all the vegetables they have planted so far. These labels, which are engraved with little drawings and plant names in French and Arabic, are now installed in the gardens so everyone can easily find and recognise the newly planted vegetables, not to mention the beautiful addition they make to the garden!
With temperatures rising every day, the Dar Taliba gardeners have been working hard in collaboration with our partner, hydrological engineering firm RESING, to install a new drip irrigation system, which will support the year-round growing and maintenance of the 6,000m2 gardens.
All of this growth and harvest of skills and nourishing food wouldn’t be possible without the continuous support of our generous donors at GlobalGiving. Thank you!
Until summer vacation arrives at the end of June, we look forward to continuing our weekly permaculture trainings with the girls and share with you all our exciting activities and plans for the students at Dar Taliba. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates or visit our website.
Thanks again for your support from all of us at Dar Taliba! And a blessed month of Ramadan for those who are celebrating.
P.S. Since many girls are going home for a few days to celebrate the first days of Ramadan with their families, we distributed zucchini, cabbage, and bunches of spinach and lettuce (all 100% organic!) to all the students, which they will use to cook delicious Ramadan meals!
When we reported last, the girls at Dar Taliba boarding house were busy working with our project partners to complete 6,000 m2 of new school gardens. Since then the recreational garden, which is now fully furnished with wooden tables and benches, has become a hub for learning about conservation and studying. “The girls have been studying outside whenever they can”, said Jamila, Dar Taliba director.
Although winter brought heavy snow and rain to the Ourika Valley, the girls have participated in a host of permaculture training sessions. Throughout December and January, all 128 girls received training on the use of organic fertiliser from our partner RADIANT Design. They learnt about the negative impacts of chemicals on the soil, such as pollution, and how organic fertilisers are more sustainable in the long-term as they protect our soil, animals and local biodiversity. With this new knowledge and understanding, the girls were then taught how to make natural fertilisers themselves using the plants grown in the gardens. The classes were a huge hit:
“I really enjoyed learning about organic fertilisers”, Leila, aged 14, told us. “It surprised me how simple and cheap it is, and how it will benefit plants and vegetables to grow”.
The organic fertiliser was finally ready for use this week and the girls are confident their home-made product will work its magic soon. You can read more about what the girls learnt in our online blog.
After a busy few weeks of school exams, followed by a two-week winter break, we kicked off the new semester with a session on seed planting during which the girls planted tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchinis, onions, green beans … the list goes on! You should have seen the excitement on their faces when we announced they had planted over 800 seeds during the first two sessions alone. “I planted so many seeds today, I just can’t wait to see them grow!”, Salma, aged 13, said. The students will water their seeds (or ‘babies’ as they now refer to them) every day until they are ready to be taken home where they will replant the seedlings in their communities.
As you can see from our pictures, thanks to a very wet winter and all the girls’ hard work, the gardens are flourishing and the first harvest of the year has been collected. The girls are now able to pick fresh turnips and carrots, amongst others, which are prepared for freshly cooked school meals such as the traditional Friday couscous.
With spring just around the corner and the girls back in Dar Taliba after a well-deserved vacation, we are all super excited for our upcoming trainings and seeing the newly planted vegetables grow!
It’s thanks to the generous donations of our GlobalGiving supporters that we are able to continue to transform the Dar Taliba garden into a wonderful place to learn and grow. Thank you!
If you want to find out more about our work, you can keep up to date by visiting our website and following us on Facebook and Instagram.
With thanks to the generous donations of our GlobalGiving supporters, GDF has been able to continue its support to Dar Taliba boarding house which provides Amazigh girls between 13 and 18 years of age from remote villages of the Ourika Valley an opportunity to continue their education beyond primary school. This support has enabled Dar Taliba to continue operations and saw student numbers double from 65 to 130 at the start of the academic year this September.
Since our last report, our team and all the girls have been working hard and we are pleased to share with you some exciting developments and progress.
In collaboration with our partner organisations Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association (MBLA) and Radiant Design, we are now in the process of completing the construction of 6,000 m2 of school gardens. The five sections are designed to conserve wild plant species and traditional crop varieties for local communities. The gardens also provide a training space for students to develop new skills and knowledge in plant conservation, plant uses, agroecology techniques and indigenous practices. They can then transfer this knowledge to their families and communities. Students have been involved throughout the construction process and will continue to participate in the everyday running and maintenance of the gardens which includes:
These gardens are now being watered by a newly established state-of-the-art drip irrigation system, designed and constructed by partner organisation RESING, to enable year-round growing and maintenance of the garden’s plants and trees even in the very dry summer months.
With the gardens now in full swing, we have begun delivering weekly training sessions to all 130 students on topics ranging from permaculture cultivation methods, seed saving and water management. So far, 8 sessions have been held and we will continue to deliver these regularly throughout the academic year.
Jamila, a Dar Taliba graduate who benefited from GDF’s support when we started working here in 2000 and is now the boarding house’s Director, spoke with some of the students to find out what they have learnt so far.
Fatimazhra, aged 13, explained how she learnt ‘the difference between all types of seeds and how vegetables were at the beginning and how they grow’ while 13-year old Nadia thought it was a ‘very good idea to invite us to garden, because we learn something new about agriculture that we don't know before like different types of seeds’.
Students also spoke of sharing their new skills with their families and communities, helping to ensure the project impacts the wider community and is sustainable in the long-term. Fatimazhra told us that she will ‘practice all what I learned…and I will advise my parents to use the compost and show them how to do it because it's very good for the land and for the agriculture crop’.
What’s next for Dar Taliba?
In December, we will expand our capacity building programme with quarterly workshops on plant transformation, processing and value-adding, to be delivered by our friend and colleague Rachid Jaafari, Founder-Director of the holistic training centre and natural cosmetics company Terre d’Eveil. In conjunction with the other educational offerings we provide to Dar Talilba students through this project, these trainings will help diversify post-graduation opportunities and provide them with transferable skills that benefit their families and communities.
Thank you again for your support in making this happen!
We look forward to sharing more about how our project continues to benefit students and communities in our next update. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with all our news by visiting our website, sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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