Taking action: The School of Gardening Bouregreg

This video presents an interview to Inés Eléxpuru, Director of communication of the Islamic Culture Foundation (FUNCI), carried out by the French Institute of Rabat. The interview is part of the program “Demain dès aujourd’hui”, which highlights important civil society initiatives to protect the environment. The video focuses on the School of Gardening Bouregreg, a project of labor insertion with strong social, cultural and environmental connotations.

The following is a transcription of the interview in English language:

French Institute: What is this project?

Inés Eléxpuru: It is a Spanish-Moroccan collaborative project to launch the first School of gardening in Morocco. There were already trainings on landscaping and agronomy, but there had never been a gardening training, in spite of the high demand there is for this field. Of course, before launching the project, we carried out a feasibility study.

For its implementation, we have brought Spanish trainers, and we have developed a program based on the Spanish educational framework, but adapted to the Moroccan context, of course, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and Professional Training. This highly-qualified Spanish trainers are in charge of training the Moroccan professors.

The project is addressed to young people at risk of exclusion, in marginal or precarious situations. We cover all the logistics, training, food, transport…

The project is organized by FUNCI and the Management Agency of the Bouregreg Valley. We have been very successful in our call for sponsors, among which we can mention the INDH (National Initiative for Human Development), which has provided all the necessary materials; the regional government is also helping us; the Ministry of National Education, which recognizes the diplomas awarded; the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and International Development; the Foundation Drosos; ALSA, the Spanish company of transport, which provides transport for the students…

For us, it is important to develop an innovative gardening model, as we find ourselves in a country in which climate change is already having negative consequences, in which there is an important water stress, and yet, where we find public strategies that are not adapted to the soil nor the climate, which need too much irrigation. We don’t only work to teach these young students and to show them a different model, more respectful with the environment, nature, and good water management; we also work to raise awareness among the general public, architects, landscapers and the authorities.

What was the trigger point for this project?

Our Foundation is settled in Madrid, but it develops international project focusing on environmental preservation and the valuing of cultural and natural heritage. Its President is the Moroccan humanist Cherif Abderrahman Jah, who, at one point, was interested in working in Morocco, which whom we share so many things. We have developed many projects here, and as part of them, we wanted to launch a project to help young Moroccans, to grant them opportunities, provide them with job opportunities, and specially, to grant them a future in a field as promising as gardening. In this sense, our goal is not only to train them, but also to facilitate their labor insertion.

What is your advice to move to action?

First of all, it is important to believe, with a lot of passion, with a lot of love… This is not easy, especially when facing adverse economic or social conditions. But it is important to have passion, love, patience, and to be ambitious. It is necessary to create teams that work, and which are highly motivated.

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