Vermiculture In Morocco

by Anna de la Vega

Worms (and microbes) are the great connectors, they open up the world through our shared understanding of the sanctity of the soil. Bringing the opportunity to have connection with saffron farmer Lin Ducker through the global Soil Food Web network, we were welcomed on a visit to Zahour Saffron Farm in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. To witness and support the development of a vermiculture movement in Morocco was a blessed one. And it would only be natural for the most expensive spice in the world to be grown with the most valuable fertiliser in the world.

Lin Ducker, Zahour Saffron

More expensive than gold, Saffron is not only a delicate aromatic spice but a magnificent healer, with some successful clinical research evidencing treatment of the neurological diseases Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and has proven to be able to replace Ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  As a retired nurse and nutritionist Lin understands this, and although saffron is typically grown at high altitude, Zahour Saffron is producing high grade saffron by dehydrating the crocuses as soon as they are harvested.  An incredibly labour-intensive process, last year’s harvest employed 28 people from the local community and the saffrom yield can range between 2-4 kilos depending on the weather at harvest time.

Progressive and free-thinking Lin is harnessing the power of the microbial world to nourish her harvest, and it is with gratitude that we had the opportunity to dine on the precious spice and benefit from its healing powers and be welcomed by the Ducker family.  Despite receiving welcomed rain during our visit – reducing the magnificent surrounding view – it was a gift to be on the farm.


Worm Farm, Zahour Saffron Farm, Marrakech, Morocco

Anna, Lin and General Manager Mohammed at Palm Orchids

To our ultimate delight, only 15 miles from Lin’s farm is ‘Palm Orchids’ – a plant nursery and the largest worm farm in Morocco (one of three), producing an impressive 10 tons of worm manure a month.  With our translator Lin at hand we were interested to learn that worm leachate (aka worm wee) was being successfully used to desalinate water at a ratio of 1:5 within only 3 months. The gifts of the worms are endless, and Morocco needs these gifts.

The rise of vermiculture in Morocco is a vital and necessary one, as the country bares the ecological cost of the world’s toxic chemical farming industry.  Phosphate is a key ingredient in the production of synthetic fertiliser and Morocco holds 80% of the world’s phosphate reserves. Ill-equipped with protection, workers are unjustly exposed to dangerous chemicals and heavy metals, notably cadmium and uranium known to cause cancer, kidney failure and bone disease. The pollution from the industry contaminates the air and an already scarce water supply, undermining the health of all life in the country.  It is another case of Africa yet again exploited and abused for its riches – most of the phosphate is exported and local people can’t afford synthetic fertiliser.   Choosing to eat and grow organic is not simply a personal health choice, or an ecological decision, it is a form of human rights activism that rejects the injustice of exporting environmental degradation.

Although it is early days, with the first worm farm being established only 7 years ago,  the worm farming movement in Morocco is taking hold, and Zahour Saffron Farm, amongst many other stewards, are creating the foundations for life to flourish and thrive – thank you Lin and your lovely team.

Worm farm at Palm Orchids, Marrakech, Morocco




Worms & Peace