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The Moroccan Food Forest That Inspired an Agricultural Revolution

It was 1975 and Geoff Lawton was wintering with friends in Morocco. Camping on beaches north of Agadir, they’d been surfing for weeks when locals told them about Paradise Valley. Located along the Tamraght River in the High Atlas Mountains, it promised 5,200-foot vistas, blue-green waterfalls, and lush, rainforest-like vegetation.

“I remember thinking it was odd that this lush, green forest should be bursting from the desert,” he says.

Stepping inside, things got stranger. The air felt cool, almost misty. Growing in the shade of tall date palms were trees, vines, and shrubs bearing bananas, tamarinds, oranges, figs, guavas, pomegranates, lemons, limes, mulberries, carobs, quince, grapes, and other fruits and nuts. Following a footpath through the grassy understory past groves of olive and argan trees, Lawton discovered a cluster of fenced-in vegetable and herb gardens—most about a quarter-acre in size. Here and there, goats were tethered to posts. Chickens clucked through the underbrush and roosted in trees. Gazing down a leafy corridor, he spotted a man leading a donkey. Its saddlebags brimmed with produce.

“I felt like I’d wandered into some kind of ancient organism,” says Lawton. “I had goosebumps all over.”

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Tags: #agriculture, #environment, #food
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