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Morocco Project Update

There is some impressive result coming in from Morocco at the Laurent Project, where I undertook a Mainframe earthworks design and installation in November 2015.

For a bit of background check out the video below. After I returned from Morocco Geoff Lawton and the PRI team did up a short video about the project:

Since then I have been keeping in contact with the site owner, Laurent Levy who is doing a great job of the follow-up planting at the site where the earthworks occurred and the overall development of the site into an eco-tourism retreat being situated only 1.5 hours’ drive from Casablanca.

The earthworks have progressed nicely and below is a series of photos of when we were installing the earthworks and after the first decent rains of the season. Keeping in mind the site receives 250mm of rain per year and like a lot of dry-lands come’s in about three events in mid-winter. Systems need to be in place to catch and store as much water as possible and this has been achieved with two out three dams getting fully charged and the last being at the bottom of the system.


This photo was taken during the mainframe earthworks installation in November 2015, the highest swale line is the backbone of the design with a crossing dam in the central valley of the site taking water from one watershed to another and as you can see we don’t want to let that water go once we have it.


This Crossing dam was a critical feature in the design, it was not an easy place for a dam and certainly not the best material, as this site is almost pure shale hence the terracing in the photo. To access the good clay we needed to build the wall and line the dam with the material excavated from the terracing, but well worth the risk to get water to cross the valley and overflow onto the a drain on the top side of the road and continue on to the last dam situated in the zone 1 and 2 of the site as we wanted to get away from the westerly aspect of the site to place the housing parcels on a more moderate southerly aspect. This site is a great example that sometimes conventional techniques can not be followed and that you have to adapt to the conditions, site restraints, and government processes that at time slow your project down in order to deliver the results.


The first decent rain has arrived; the backflood swale is doing its job harvesting water to the crossing dam.


The landscape is getting painted green. The pastured area has been ploughed and seeded out to wheat to kick-start the recovery. Note: the fencing in the bottom left-hand corner was an essential element in the regeneration of the site to stop the uncontrolled grazing of livestock, grazing animals will be managed on the site but managed is the keyword.


Zone 1 and 2 of the site where the main guest housing will be built and the lowest dam constructed and a whole lot of terracing for gardens and productive fruit trees.


The highest dam on the site is 10 meters above this line which overflows into the very end of the back-flood swale. Please refer to the picture above and you will see a fully charged dam, which is a very pleasing photo for the designer to publish!

This site had some challenges, heck it was on the other side of the world and David designed the majority of works in Australia. When Dave got to the site there were some local endemic changes made to the design, but clearly you can see that David’s mainframe design… simply works!

Further Reading:


David Spicer is co-teaching a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course with Salah Hammad at the Permaculture Research Institute, Australia from the 25th of July to the 5th of August. To secure a place and to find out more please visit the course listing page here.

David Spicer

David Spicer’s approach to design and education is based upon a proven emphasis on practicality, having over 18 years experience in Permaculture education working and teaching with Bill Mollison at the Permaculture Institute (Tasmania) and Geoff Lawton, the managing director of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and Zaytuna Farm. He is renowned for his ability to explain concepts and ideas simply, conveying the basics. David previously worked as farm manager of the renowned Tagari Farm and Zaytuna Farm in northern New South Wales. He has taught and worked extensively within Australia and internationally on various projects, covering six Australian states, Morocco, Jordan, New Caledonia and Palestine covering a broad array of different climate zones. David is a valued member of the team headed up by Geoff Lawton. He has the distinction of being Registered Teacher #5 with the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. David currently serves as Lead Consultant and Educator for


  1. Hi David
    The Laurent Project looks fantastic. I will be visiting Morocco late July 2018 and was wondering how progressed the project is and whether I would be able to visit it? I will only be in Casablanca for a day before I fly back to Australia. Would you please disclose the location so I can see it on Google Earth? !

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