I remember in the mid-90s when I had the great fortune to be a Peace Corps Volunteer and live with the village communities of the Toubkal municipality in the High Atlas Mountains. The people expressed how fruit tree revenue far outweighed what they generated from growing barley and corn using traditional methods. We also learned that other mountain farming communities in other valleys, were planting cherry trees and fairing better economically.
In 1995, our project together paid $1.20 per tree. Ten years later, the High Atlas Foundation supported the people in their building of a walnut and almond tree nursery in loving memory of former Peace Corp Volunteer Kate Jeans-Gail and her dear mom, Victoria. And now another twelve years later, and 3.5 million seeds and trees planted in 23 provinces, we can now grow a fruit seed in a community-managed nursery for 20 cents. This price includes the costs of monitoring its growth, grafting it, and ensuring its best life and production.
We’ve learned the processes to secure land for the people’s nurseries. We’ve learned how to maximize growth of these organic and endemic seeds, utilizing greenhouses, solar-power pumps, pressure-drip systems, the in-kind hard work of local people, and partnerships with government, companies, and the people’s associations.
The rains this season in Morocco have come; they came again this morning, and we are thankfully still in December. All of this is to say the following: Give.
Give to plant trees that nourish us and save our planet. Grow with us trees that employ us and bring us opportunity for all. And plant even more than you thought you would for the sake of transitioning beyond what so often feels like endlessly burdensome rural poverty that keeps girls from school, water way too often far and unclean, and young people leaving their villages against their own dreams to work in cities that separate them from their families back at home. Tree-planting is magical, and is among other essential actions for sustainable development.
Give many hundreds of dollars, and give fruit forests.
And since many of these trees do live for centuries, and since all of us may not outlive them, let’s also give in memory and loving thought for those beautiful souls that might’ve planted this season.
It’s time to give, as the rains have come.
High Atlas Foundation