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.