The Kate Jeans-Gail Tree Nursery Memorial honors the spirited life of a spirited young woman whose commitment to changing the world will not be forgotten. Kate Jeans-Gail served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern Morocco from 2001-2003, and loved the country and its people. This memorial project is a living reminder of Kate and the many ways in which she touched our lives.
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she earned a B.A. from Smith College in 2001. Throughout her life, Kate engaged in volunteer work; this included the opportunity to work with orphans at Mother Theresa's Missionary Sisters of Charity in Calcutta, India. Immediately upon graduation from college, she joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to a remote village in southern Morocco as a maternal-child health technician.
Widely recognized by her peers and supervisors as a star volunteer, she successfully pursued a grant from the United States Agency for International Development to build a health clinic and birthing center, among other projects. Upon her return to the U.S., Kate joined Teach For America. In December of 2003, she and her mother, Victoria Jeans-Gail, passed away in a car accident.
About the Project
From 2007 friends and family began to make enormous contributions to the creation of a community fruit tree nursery to memorialize the lives of Kate and her mother. This is situated in the Toubkal municipality on the south side of the High Atlas Mountains. Having surpassed its initial goal of 60,000 trees, the nursery today boasts nearly 200,000 walnut trees. It is the pilot site for the organic certification of walnuts in Morocco and has initiated a cooperative that unites organic walnut farmers specializing in this product. Victoria and Kate’s nursery has become a model that has been replicated in other Moroccan provinces, and additionally it has been visited by a Palestinian organization seeking to implement a similar project adapting its implementation in the West Bank.
In Kate’s memory, HAF and its community partners have created an agricultural model for the entire country. On a local level, mature saplings from the Kate Jeans-Gail nursery have been distributed to over 28 villages in the Tifnoute valley, impacting the lives of over 250 families. Importantly, the local communities now have the skills and the resources to replenish their orchards without any dependence on outside assistance.
About Ambassador Christopher Stevens
Before serving his country as a diplomat, the late United States Ambassador to Libya, Mr. Christopher Stevens, volunteered for the Peace Corps in Ouaouizerth, in the Azilal province of Morocco, situated in the Western High Atlas mountains.
Throughout his career in the Middle East and North Africa, Ambassador Stevens was looked upon as a champion of the people in the countries where he worked. It is therefore very fitting that his diplomatic and personal legacy will live on in the sustainable development of the Ouaouizerth community.
About the Project
Partnerships with the Commune of Ouaouizerth, in the Azilal Province, and the Adrar Cooperative enabled the creation of a community-managed nursery project in love and honor for the spirit of the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens. A hectare of land was lent for 10 years by the Adrar Cooperative to the women and youth of Ouaouizerth for the construction of a nursery of organic olives and wild medicinal aromatic plants.
The HAF seeks to facilitate a doubling of local household income, in particular for the women and youth, who play a vital role in the development of their community. The local people of Ouaouizerth consider this project as a starting point for the economic and social development – not only of their commune, but of the whole region. You can watch the participatory community discussions that led to this local project here.
Mr. Abderrahim Farhat, the President of the Adrar Cooperative, stated that this project “will benefit many generations from now… and this is the real meaning of sustainable development.”
In 2013, the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State partnered with HAF to implement an organic agricultural initiative that will provide infrastructural, training, and partnership building support for the rural communities in four municipalities, including Ouaouizerth. The project will impact a total of 50,000 people over five years through green job creation, income generation for family farmers, and reinvestment in sustainable human development projects fueled by green economic growth.
Tom Tolen Memorial Nursery
In loving memory of our fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Mr. Tom Tolen, who served in Morocco from 1980 to 1982, a community fruit tree nursery will be created to bring socioeconomic and environmental benefits to the villages neighboring the Tazekka National Park, near where Tom served.
About the Project
The nursery will support 80,000 cherry and walnut saplings planting varieties which do not require the application of pesticides.
It is expected that the project will, on average, double household incomes after 8 years, benefitting approximately 10,000 people.
The Memorial project will strengthen the local environment by preventing soil erosion, offsetting carbon emissions, and creating new income sources within the village area, as well as thereby decreasing local people’s dependence on the natural resources of the Tazekka National Park.
Furthermore, the approach of building a community-managed nursery entail – whereby saplings being are planted on-site for two years before being and then distributed to households to be planted in their individual orchards. This choice, rather than having the memorial project purchase ready-grown two- year old trees from an existing commercial source, provides special advantages:
• Saplings are approximately one-third of the cost of two-year-old trees;
• Community members will gain important technical agricultural skills that will enable them to replenish their own orchards in the future;
• Nurseries are innovative profit-making enterprises – they are also and are necessary to meet the immense demand for fruit trees by rural Moroccan communities as they make the transition from subsistence farming to modern agricultural practices.
In Tom’s memory, HAF and its community partners have created an agricultural model for the entire country. Importantly, the local communities now have the skills and the resources to replenish their orchards without having to depend on any outside expertise dependency.