We continue to live in times of crisis, and Morocco is no exception. Still, at the School of Gardening Bouregreg Med-O-Med, in Salé, we have begun the new academic year 2020-2021. Its opening is a breath of fresh air and optimism in this difficult times.
The School doors opened once again at the beginning of September. However, our current efforts focus on finishing last year lessons, unmercifully interrupted by Covid19. After a first weeks aimed at reinforcing the level of the first and second years’ students, the graduation will take place. And in November, it will take place the registration of new students. It will be the first year that the School will have three simultaneous levels, and it will count with 90 students present at the time. Insha’Allah!
The school year 2019-2020 could not have started better last October. In addition to all theoretical and practical lessons taking place within the school premises (8 hectares), the school organized several educational activities outside. Among them, the visit to the gardens Nouzhat Hassan, in Rabat, as well as the Jardin d’Essais Botaniques, where FUNCI built a beautiful garden inspired in the style of Al-Andalus, and a small museum on the water of Al-Andalus.
Our current efforts focus on finishing last year lessons, unmercifully interrupted by the coronavirus.
We also had the pleasure of organizing two floristry workshops with our collaborators from Vegetal Concept, and to count with the collaboration of the Instituto Cervantes and the Institut Français of Rabat, who taught Spanish and French language courses to our students. These courses have just been resumed. In addition, the department of International Relations of the International University of Rabat provided supplementary lessons on Arabic writing and reading.
And, the most important thing, we had time to plant the garden surrounding the school before lockdown! After designing its layout, its planting counted with the enthusiastically collaboration of many students. Plant reproduction will come from the more than 120 species that currently grow strong and with enthusiasm.
The garden under lockdown
Unfortunately, the school’s work was interrupted abruptly on March 16th, after the government decision to order lockdown as the only solution to fight the Covid19. Still, the school’s teachers and gardener assistants were able to work on the maintenance of the garden, during a spring that proved fresh and flowery. Works of identification, photographing and gathering of seeds were also carried out, targeting the many wild species that grew in the uncropped plots.
Plant reproduction will come from the more than 120 species that currently grow strong and with enthusiasm.
The families of the students in most vulnerable situations received help through subsidies and food and health product donations by the Diplomatic Circle of Rabat and the Sabic Morocco & West Africa, among others, which contributed to mitigate the precarious social and economic situation.
Once the lockdown measures were gradually lifted, around June 10th, several groups of students volunteered to help maintain the garden, therefore progressing in their interrupted practical training and strengthening their links with the school and teachers. This link was never lost during lockdown and survived through cell phone calls and social networks.
The families of the students in most vulnerable situations received help through subsidies and food and health product donations.
All this was done respecting all the preventive measures recommended by health authorities.
And finally, a new academic year!
As we said before, the school finally opened its gates in early September, with all lessons taught outside, both theoretical and practical lessons, in order to respect social distancing.
This year we have the luck of counting with two new specialists from Spain, Lucía Aloise, gardening trainer, and Pablo Gutiérrez, expert in conservation and plant production. Two wonderful “signings” that joint an excellent and experienced Spanish-Moroccan team.
In addition to this, second-year students are taught how to use machines, mowers, string trimmers… While theoretical training continues, we are working on the planning of the garden maintenance, the implementation of an irrigation system, and the gathering of seeds from green spaces for the germplasm bank. One of the wells has been cleaned following traditional techniques, and we are working on the plant reproduction and the building of a new laboratory.
This year we have the luck of counting with two new training specialists from Spain, Lucía Aloise and Pablo Gutiérrez Watson
Our next goals aim at opening the shop and restaurant, which will be both open to the public and whose profits are part of the income-generating activities to contribute economically to this project. We are also working on the developing of a program of workshops for the introduction of gardening, floristry, and other materials highly demanded.
We hope that luck and a good environment continue to follow us, and that we can all face a more human, inclusive and sustainable future.
Pictures: Inés Eléxpuru – FUNCI