Mohamed El Haouzi teaches herbarium preparation
This has been a busy few months for Dar Taliba. There have been exciting opportunities to build new partnerships, and also to do some hard work in the gardens. As we'll hear from Mohamed El Haouzi, Director of Projects in Morocco for Global Diversity Foundation, working in the gardens is also an opportunity to reflect on and fondly recall past partnerships and supporters of Dar Taliba.
Firstly, we are pleased to announce that Dar Taliba has been asked to participate in the Edible Schoolyards Project, a platform that connects educators around the world to build and share a curriculum that places food systems at the core. It is very fitting that this connection began over food – when GDF's Director Gary Martin had dinner in California a few weeks ago with Alice Waters, the famed American chef, creator of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkelely and founder of Edible Schoolyards. Alice took an interest in Dar Taliba and requested that the school be featured as a project on the Edible Schoolyards website – see our page here. We are excited to explore the Edible Schoolyards platform further, and become part of a growing global network of 'edible' education programs. We are certain there will be exciting opportunities for cross-fertilization and mutual learning in this network that will deepen and enrich the experience of the girls at Dar Taliba.
Dar Taliba was also recently featured in a short video on the Eco@Africa program of Deutsche Welle (DW), a German international broadcaster. The video 'Relearning Lost Traditions in Morocco' highlights the important work the girls are doing to revitalize and reimplement local plant knowledge that has been passed down through the ancestors. This exposure is a great way to show the world the importance of Dar Taliba, and also allows the girls to see that their knowledge is valued. Thank you, Edible Schoolyards and DW, for helping us co-create this important narrative about the essential work at Dar Taliba to preserve traditional plant use.
And now for an on-the-ground update, we asked Mohamed to tell us a bit about the last few months at Dar Taliba. Mohamed has worked with Dar Taliba of Ourika since 2003, and has been an important part of the project's growth and success. He reports,
“At the beginning of September, I took over the management of the gardens of Dar Taliba, which had suffered from a very hot summer marked by hot winds and lack of water. There was a lot of work to be done to restore all the gardens, so I met with the gardeners to give them the necessary instructions and direction.
The ornamental garden built was completely weeded and cleaned. The aromatic garden has been completely restored after weeding and cleaning, and the missing aromatic plants will be replaced after the current period of cold weather. The vegetable, aromatic, and ethnobotanical garden, built according to the permaculture processes, was also weeded and cleaned up. And, always following the processes of permaculture, turnips and peas were planted in this garden. Very soon, beans will be planted, as well as other vegetables.”
Mohamed recalls that the ornamental garden they cleaned was created in 2003 with the help of Ground Force, a BBC garden series that involved a surprise garden 'makeover'. Ground Force surprised Hassan Ouardagh (the coordinator of the ABDBO association that created Dar Taliba) with the creation of the ornamental garden that he had always wanted for the girls. The garden was created in three days, and Mohamed attended the construction. Indeed, he still keeps the thank-you letter that he was given by the producers of Ground Force.
We remain grateful for all our partnerships and relationships, past and present, that have allowed Dar Taliba to thrive and have brought increasing attention to the important ethnobotanical work of the students. We look forward to branching out and making more connections in the future!
Gently watering seedlings in the new greenhouse
Permaculture design in action