LOVING AND REMEMBERING VICTORIA AND KATE

A letter from HAF President, Yossef Ben-Meir, to the family and friends of Victoria and Kate Jeans-Gail, who died on 28 December 2003 and in whose name was created a community nursery in the High Atlas Mountains.

Dear Kevin and the Jeans-Gail family and friends,

I write this thinking of what Victoria’s and Kate’s Memorial Nursery has become since its first implementation in 2007 – for its immediate beneficiaries, for Morocco and beyond, and in our hearts. Their community nursery in the Toubkal municipality on the south side of the High Atlas Mountains has been replenished with walnut seeds every year, nearing now 200,000 total. It is the pilot site in Morocco for organic certification of walnuts, and has spawned a Cooperative that unites organic walnut farmers in a mountain region that provides 35 per cent of the nation’s harvest. The business plan borne from this now spans from nurseries to training, processing and marketing, with reinvestment of a portion of profits into new human development projects. Victoria’s and Kate’s nursery has become a model we are replicating in other provinces, and was visited by a Palestinian organization for adapting its implementation in the West Bank.

In the same municipality, we are now planting with women’s associations medicinal and organic aromatic plants in greenhouses. We also see our community-driven work in the context of the Arab Spring, and we are playing our part in building a Morocco that shines a peaceful and prosperous way forward in this uncertain time.

The beginning – from where we rose – is Kate’s and Victoria’s nursery. It is now more than we imagined, with still a great and unimaginable frontier ahead of us.

With all of this, and feeling that we can plant scores of millions more to help achieve Morocco’s multi-billion tree goal (and God willing, we will), planting the world over still does not fill our hearts as did the two loving worlds, Victoria and Kate. I did not know your daughter, Kate, but as a fellow former Peace Corps Volunteer, our life values cannot be too far apart, and I hope (and feel) the principles that her and her mom’s nursery reflect, are their own – of serving those with least, of creating food consistent with and for our nature, inclusion of all toward partnership, peace and prosperity.

Remembering and honoring our beloved creates our best future, and on January 16th HAF will plant its 1 millionth tree which helps us to see that this is so. And on this December 28th, this ten year anniversary of two most beautiful worlds lost, may it also be one where we are found, through our collective service to each other.

With all my love,

Yossef Ben-Meir

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