By Pommelien da Silva Cosme, Morocco Programme Director

20 May 2020

A lot has changed since January. The world turned upside down due to a global pandemic, and so has our school garden project for 153 students at the Dar Taliba boarding house for girls. 

Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Morocco, all schools are closed until September 2020. Unfortunately, this means that the Dar Taliba students are currently unable to attend their classes and their weekly garden training sessions. However, we are pleased that we were able to carry out our outdoor garden activities as usual for the most part of the school year.

During the months of February and March, the girls participated in 13 garden training sessions and planted hundreds of seeds in their greenhouse, including aromatic and medicinal plants such as sage (Salvia officinalis) and lavender (Lavandula officinalis). They also made an additional pile of fresh compost, prepared a natural pesticide and planted dozens of  baby vegetables in the garden, including carrots, radishes, eggplants and turnips.

More recently, our Dar Taliba project was featured in Evidence of Hope: Women of Morocco, part of a series of portraits of people and projects from around the world who are successfully addressing global challenges. The Dar Taliba students proudly shared their skills and knowledge with the Evidence of Hope team and we can’t wait to organise a screening of the short film once they return to school. They also welcomed other visitors to their school garden over the past few months, including a host from Radio Amazigh, a local radio programme that highlights stories from Amazigh rural communities linked to the environment and women’s empowerment. Four students were brave enough to participate in interviews and they did an excellent job!

Luckily we ended this year’s school garden training programme with an exciting final activity before the lockdown started. Perhaps you remember the drawing activity we organised last year with a group of Dar Taliba students? Based on this activity and others, we developed a colourful booklet that features local and useful plant products selected by the students we worked with in different regions in the High Atlas, including Dar Taliba. The “Amazigh Household Basket” features beautiful drawings produced by the students, including olive trees, corn, cherries, carrots and thyme. We distributed this labour of love among the Dar Taliba students in March and they were so proud to see some of their drawings featured inside.The booklet is available online for anyone who is curious to have a look!

Although the students won’t be back at Dar Taliba until September, we are working hard to create an exciting programme for next school year with new educational materials that focus on the importance of health for humans as well as nature. Until then, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates about our future plans for the Dar Taliba school garden and students.

Proud Dar Taliba students show their drawings
Baby figs growing in the Dar Taliba garden
Dar Taliba students during a radio interview
The students’ aromatic and medicinal plants

Adapted from a project report first published on our Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens campaign on GlobalGiving.