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Essaouira
All Year: No
Area (ha): 100
Persons: 1 or 2
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 24137
Country: Morocco

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Last Updated: November 28, 2016

I am a 49-year old Scot and my wife, 40, is from Argentina. I am a jack-of-all-trades and have been many things in life, from soldier to TV presenter. I met my love in Ibiza where she had settled temporarily. We were both big travellers before meeting one another and still are, although there's less time for such things now. We have two very young children.

For some years now we've been building an eco-lodge in Morocco with our fisherman and farmer neighbours, just 15kms north of Essaouira on the Atlantic Coast.

The Eco-Lodge lies between Azrou Issa and Al Faida, two small fishing and farming communities. Life is hard here and with less and less rain, and fewer fish in the ocean, it's getting harder. Many families have already left the land and gone to live in the town. There are almost 40 small families left, farming approx 100 hectares between them and grazing their goats, sheep and cows in the huge forest behind. The land does not produce enough and the forest is being overgrazed.

The eco-lodge is still some way from completion but now sits at the heart of a long term project to help regenerate local agriculture using permaculture, holistically managed grazing, aqua-ponics and any other good ideas. The aim is to build a sustainable and profitable future for them, and us, and in so doing, to learn what works and what doesn't work in such a semi arid landscape before taking this knowledge to other places. To this end Ayelen and I have started the UK-based charity, the Fertile Roots Foundation, which will exist to support, fund (where necessary) and guide this project, and hopefully others after it, towards economic and social sustainability.

The permaculture project is only just beginning and is ‘from scratch’.

We do not need volunteers all year round and sometimes we are looking only for volunteers with specific skills.

RIGHT NOW (WINTER 2016) WE ARE LOOKING ONLY FOR VOLUNTEERS CAN COOK 2 SIMPLE MEALS A DAY FOR US AND UP TO 6 INTERNS. WE NEED HELP FROM 01 DECEMBER UNTIL END APRIL. MINIMUM STAY IS A WEEK. AND ANYONE WTH GOOD BUILDING EXPERIENCE IS ALWAYS WELCOME.

Volunteers will be accommodated either in a 4m bell tent inside the unfinished eco-lodge, in a half-finished bedroom or in the original farmhouse. Cooking and eating and relaxing will be in the house. It’s all very basic at the moment. Water is scarce so we wash in a bucket and the toilet is dry compost. The well water is good to drink. We are not vegetarian but different diets are not a problem. Volunteers will be expected to cook for themselves and help out with other housework.

We provide food, a mattress and a pillow. We do not provide sheets, blankets, towels or ANY work clothes (gloves, etc).

It can be quite cold if the wind is from the east so bring warm clothes, strong shoes and a 2-3 season sleeping bag.

The area: The beach is 800m away. Moulay Bouzergtoun, a small village and one of the best windsurfing spots in the world, is 4km away. Essaouira, the nearest town, is 15kms along the beach (3 hrs walk) or an easy 15-minute walk up the hill and 30 min hitch hike along the coast road. It has a beautiful old medina and fishing port. It’s all quite touristy now but there is lots to do and see: music festivals, kite surfing, surfing and windsurfing, horse riding, etc. We buy our food at the fantastic weekend farmers’ market at Had’draa. Marrakech is 200km away.

The photos below are of (left to right):

1. the project area from the hills above
2. the Fertile Roots eco-lodge
3. a previous volunteer building a brick dome
4. another view of the eco-lodge
5. Ayelen
6. Mark

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