Olive tree planting with 200 Moroccan families

by High Atlas Foundation
Kids plant trees in their school yard
Kids plant trees in their school yard

The planting season is now over for another year and it’s time to reflect on our achievements.

During the 2013 season, HAF and partners planted in total 234,000 fruit seeds and saplings (including also walnut and cactus) – the most HAF and its partners ever planted in one year.  This brings the total amount planted since 2003 to 692,500 trees.

From the 16 February to 23 April 2013, HAF, along with primary school directors, teachers, and students, organized planting events that integrated children and their families. Fruit trees were planted, including walnut, lemon, olive, almond, and pomegranate – all of which grow endemically in Morocco.

Together, the students and staff school dug holes in their school plots and planted the trees, and HAF team members presented information about caring for trees.  The students prepared thoughtful theatrical scenes about environmental degradation caused by human misuse.  Some of the trees were planted in community gardens, while the majority of trees (varieties that local families identified) were given to the schoolchildren to plant in their family farms.

HAF has a campaign to plant 1 million trees and our goal is in sight! HAF is so grateful to its Global Giving supporters for helping us get this far. Friends, it’s time to break that 1 million tree mark!

we've had a busy planting season 2013
school students learn about planting trees
school students learn about planting trees


The irrigated hill from a distance
The irrigated hill from a distance

It was a pleasure to join the HAF field team and visit all of the projects we’ve worked on in Rhamna Province this past weekend, when nearly 80 members of G4S Morocco from all sectors of the company (from maintenance crews to the Regional North Africa Director) planted with community members and schoolchildren some of the 5000 trees G4S donated in honor of Earth Day. This past Saturday, we planted and distributed 2500 olive trees to the communities that we've been working with over the years. 

We were quite a site, a caravan of eleven G4S 4X4s and a large bus in a line behind the modest HAF grand taxi driving the 50 kilometers from Ben Geurir to the Ait Taleb commune, also called Jamm’at ma berd, or the village of cold water. I felt very proud to be in the car with my fellow HAF team members, Project Manager Abderrahim Ouarghibi and Administrator Fatima-Zahra Larbi, leading this caravan to one of our big project sites.

Abderrahim Gahouane, HAF’s local community facilitator in Rhamna, greeted us and brought us to the site on which hundreds of olive trees donated, thanks to your support, have been planted and are now growing with a newly installed irrigation system. After working in the office, processing your donations and coordinating with the field team, it was so rewarding to see one hill, covered with green olive sapplings, rising above unplanted terrain. This site is thanks to you. 

After a long day of planting, our group was welcomed by Abderrahim into his home, where a team led by his wife and sister cooked what I imagine was more than 15 pounds of couscous, fitting all 80 of us into their lovely home.

I look forward to returning to Rhamna, as I feel that HAF has a home there, as the projects implemented by HAF are essential to community development and the sustainable future of these communities. The changes that have occurred since we began our work are enormous, and HAF is honored to have the opportunity to continue to make a difference, thanks to our partners such as OCP, MEPI, G4S, and wonderful individual partners through GlobalGiving.

Abderrahim O., Alex, Fatima Zahra & Abederrahim G.
Abderrahim O., Alex, Fatima Zahra & Abederrahim G.
Carrying the olive trees from the schoolyard
Carrying the olive trees from the schoolyard
G4S North & West Africa Director Planting
G4S North & West Africa Director Planting
The planting team
The planting team
Couscous for Lunch!
Couscous for Lunch!


Map of region & resources
Map of region & resources

The land is ready for irrigation, and thanks to your funds, we have secured the pressure drip system, which will be installed starting Wednesday, January 16. Community members in Rhamna Province (Ben Guerrir) are providing the labor in-kind, so our funds can be stretched very far. We expect full installation to be complete within a week (inshallah!).

We hope to purchase more olive trees to be planted this year, with the help of your generous donations and support. We are in the midst of planting season, at a crucial moment to fulfill the goals of the project. This is the moment to make a difference. Donate now to ensure we can plant the trees that will provide food and livelihood to hundreds of individuals!


Project and Training Manager Abderrahim Ouarghidi reports:

The remaining 8,000 olive trees in the Aarbat and Aabidat villages project (Ben Guerir) will soon be transplanted to their permanent homes.

Digging of the trenches (in which to install the drip watering system) has just been completed. As explained in an earlier report, this is particularly difficult work in such rocky, steep terrain. Wherever possible, a truck was brought in to dig, but wherever it was too steep to operate the truck, the villagers came out en masse to dig the rocky terrain manually. 

The painstaking digging has finally been completed, and as of last week, the trenches and 4 irrigation wells had been completely dug, as had the holes, which are now ready to receive the 8,000 transplanted trees after the drip system has been installed.

Once the materials arrive, the drip system will be installed in the trenches, at long last delivering water to the holes. In the meantime, the olive trees will continue to be cared for in their temporary homes until after the drip irrigation system has been completely installed, at which time they will be transplanted into the newly dug holes (their permanent homes) in the rocky terrain. 

May 2012 report from the field:  8,000 olive trees planted in the rural commune Ait Taleb

Because of its rocky, eroded terrain and its geographic situation, this is considered one of the most difficult sites for agricultural development projects.

A drip irrigation system is being installed in Aarbat village along with 3 wells  — 2 in Aarbat and 1 in Aabidat. It took nearly 1.5 months to drill the wells in Aarbat (120m each). These drilled wells will ensure sufficient water to irrigate nearly 5,000 olive trees and will contribute to other projects in the future. Next, electrical specialists would have to find a way to run electricity to the water pump, but we are currently looking into a solar energy solution instead. 

At Aabidat, the community members have so far planted 1000 olive trees and the rest are about to be planted. The drip irrigation system is especially difficult to install here due to the the irregular sloping and rocks covering the ground, so our technical expert will develop a special drip system to work here. This will also be greatly useful for other projects wanting to plant olive trees on similarly difficult-to-manage, damaged terrain.



May 2012 report from the field: 4 additional villages in the Ait Taleb Commune

 A new project has been proposed to plant 20 hectares of olive trees to serve a population of 160 households (approximately 800 people).


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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.highatlasfoundation.org
Project Leader:
Alex Stein
NYC, NY (US) and Marrakech, Al Haouz (Maroc), Morocco

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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