The High Atlas Foundation Nursery Program
The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) nursery projects provide Moroccan communities with fruit-bearing trees in order to improve the socioeconomic status of marginalized villages. By planting trees, HAF increases food security and economic viability with thousands of families located throughout Morocco. HAF is dedicated, through our nursery program, to adapt to any potential improvements the villagers decide on, overall enriching the well-being of Morocco.
“The idea first came about in 2005 when we experienced that growing tree nurseries is far more cost effective than purchasing two-year old trees from existing private nurseries. Then, in 2006, in loving memory of Kate Jeans-Gail, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, and her mother, Victoria, we raised the funding to establish the first community-managed tree nursery of 60,000 walnut and almond seeds, located in the Toubkal municipality in the Taroudant province.” -HAF President, Yossef Ben-Mier.
Since that first nursery, 2.2 million seeds have been planted in twelve nurseries throughout five provinces of Morocco. With Toubkal farming families, we certified 300 hectares of walnuts and almonds at Kate’s & Victoria’s memorial site. As well as processed and assisted the sales of tons of organic product, built cooperatives and still continue to turn around rural poverty conditions through multiplying the amount of revenue generated by means of organic agriculture.
How it Works
The nursery projects aim to improve the livelihood of villagers via economic growth by introducing “cash-crops” to their localized food systems. HAF’s goal is to overcome the poverty cycle by pushing past traditional practices of subsistence agriculture (i.e. growing only the essentials) and introducing surplus farming. The fruit trees thereby abolish food access barriers by providing not only the essentials for nourishment, but generating income for the village. These new sustainable economies, provided through fruit production, heighten to school improvements, agricultural education, increased income generation, women and youth community involvement, self-worth among young villagers, reverse effects of deforestation and additional limitless aspects. With any issue a society imposes, the High Atlas Foundation seeks a solution through our nursery program.
To set off a project, village citizens will come forward to HAF with a proposal to launch a nursery project. Once a proposal is accepted, HAF representatives travel to the village site location and will then choose a location to start a nursery. Depending on the village’s requirements, a nursery location can be formed variously from land lent by local schools and youth centers, the Department of Waters and Forests, from the Moroccan Jewish community nearby their historic cemeteries and by civil groups.
There are two techniques the High Atlas Foundation uses to plant trees. First and foremost HAF uses a basic seed planting technique, which involves harvesting seeds from mature trees and distributing. Secondly, the cutting technique, involves propagation of a branch from an already matured tree and replanting at a different site location. Branches are carefully pruned and removed from the trunk, usually trimming of all excess leaves and branches, leaving only a cleaned branch. The cutting technique provides an exact replica clone of the parent tree. HAF walnut, almond and carob trees must be planted using the seeding technique. While our pomegranate, olive, fig and grape trees are all reproducing through the cutting technique. This ensures our organic certification remains true with all HAF produce, as the bountiful yields harvested are exact clones or a second generation of the parent tree.
How it Helps
Once income generation begins, about a year or two after fruit production, money allocation then sets off an array of new HAF projects. Funds go to the families to enhance the standards of living, and more often, will go to meetings in which the community can discuss as an entirety what they want done. Decisions are highly dependent on a village to village basis. Scenarios vary from helping assist school building advancements, funding women’s cooperatives or to purchasing more tree seeds; furthering investments of the expansion of agricultural abilities. In total the capital generated stay within the community. For the poorest villages living under the poverty line, the money directly assists the families. In some situations, even the most impoverished villages have gotten to the point where the living standards have been funding and improved, so vastly through HAF nurseries and the subsequent activities through product sales, that the residents are living comfortably enough that they can then invest in a school and clean water.
All the laborers involved in the nursery project efforts are Moroccans, HAF solely provides the tools, seeds and irrigation infrastructure necessary. This strategy imposes that care taking of property increases the likelihood of value from the communities. These Moroccan agriculturalists are then in charge of nursery maintenance and community-managed nurseries. The success of the nurseries are also actively dependent on women and youth involvement. To date, the nurseries now are heavily run and maintained by the women villagers.
Recently, the women have stepped up to HAF, expressing their interest to become more involved in fruit tree harvesting. The women are exposed to more modern outlets through HAF and see “we can do this too” attitude. Most of trees have been allocated to the women’s groups lately, the produce then goes back to benefit their families and overall expand the cooperative. Through trees there is women’s empowerment. Through trees there is community health. Through trees there is a push for villages to break through the poverty trap. By creating work within the villages, youth are now staying in the villages, with sense of purpose in their living situations; rather than moving out of the rural villages and forced towards the cities. By planting these nurseries, it gives villagers purpose for day-to-day living, feeling value.
How to Get Involved
Although our projects create revenue, the continuation of funding new ideas is entirely based on the efforts of donations. A full list of HAF projects can be found at the Global Giving Foundation page. We provide this opportunity for our donators to specifically select which projects they feel have the most integrity, and also give the opportunity to see exactly where money is being allocated. Some examples include funding just Organic Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries or Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting among many others.
Location Site List
HAF has expanded to nine nurseries located all over Morocco, not solely the High Atlas Region. Five provinces from Al Haouz, Azilal, Moulay Yacoub, Ifrane, and Taroudant. Each nursery provides a unique atmosphere from our inter-religious projects to our women’s cooperative specific nursery. Moulay Yacoub is our newest nursery in the Fes Region that was planted in 2017. Each nursery has its own unique edge provided by location, level of poverty, and integrity of the villagers there. We will continue to expand nursery locations in the years to come. Click on any of the links below for further information on our distinctive nursery projects and photos.
Al Akhawayn University