BY: ELISE CAMPBELL
BIRTA, MOROCCO – Karim Zahrawi, 30, dug through a layer of dark, moist soil that gave in to the rounded edge of his shovel. When he reached a layer of golden brown shale, he grabbed his pickaxe to penetrate the new layer. As his soil-caked hands gripped the handle of the axe, salty beads of sweat from his sun-browned temples fell onto the nape of his navy blue cotton T-shirt. His worn leather shoes gathered new layers of dust as he inched his way deeper into the earth.
The sapling sat next to him, patiently waiting. Its thin roots hung from the base of its two-foot tall trunk. When he struck a layer of deep brown clay, he wiped his forearm over the pearls of sweat that hung on his upper lip and picked up the shovel again.
He continued to dig.
His pace quickened. With a final thrust into the soft clay, he scooped the last few inches out of the plot he’d chosen. He took a deep breath before picking up the olive tree by its base and setting it in the earth. The roots seemed to reach hungrily into the newly exposed soil. He took a final glance at his new olive tree.
In Morocco, the olive tree represents peace and wellbeing, as olive trees have been grown and harvested in the country for thousands of years. Olives continue to be one of the greatest sources of reliable nutrition and income for Moroccan families and farmers.
This single tree will produce olives for him and his family for hundreds of years.