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A Time to Plant

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bySelah Randolph
onJanuary 24, 2024

On the third Monday of January of each year, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) celebrates National Tree Planting Day, launched on the anniversary of our first million trees planted in 2014. Over the years, this event has become a regular rhythm of the planting season, providing an opportunity to gather as a community, reflect on the past year, and look forward to a new season together.

The event coincides with the American holiday of Martin Luther King Day. As a Moroccan association and a U.S. nonprofit organization, we recognize and honor the deeply rooted history of promoting social justice through participatory community development. As we gather with community members, staff, volunteers, and partners, we recommit to the pursuit of shared sustainability through our work in different sectors and contexts. We plant trees to meet the expressed priority of farming communities of the country, encouraging the renewal of local ecosystems, economies, and communities.

The HAF team arrived at our Marrakech office early Monday morning on the 15th, joined by representatives from partners and our student interns. Cars, vans, and trucks left the office after a hurried loading of trees, shovels, and bright green watering cans. The day proceeded with a wide variety of activities across 22 provinces in Morocco. Schools gathered for environmental workshops led by our staff, dancing to music and sharing a meal. Farming families spent time planting trees alongside our staff and the partners who funded long-standing tree planting and infrastructure projects. The small team left at the office managed a Facebook live event and paused to plant an olive tree in the yard outside.

We are always grateful for times of celebration that break the rhythms of the year. “For everything there is a season,” writes the author of Ecclesiastes. “A time to weep, and a time to laugh…” We have wept over the last year through seasons of sorrow. And now, gathered together, aware of the continued need, we enter a time to plant.