Eco-Palms: Creativity and Caring for Creation in Trying Times

I recently learned a new word that I thought was appropriate for the year we have all just navigated together:



a state of chaos; utter confusion.

If ever a year was appropriate to be deemed tohubohu it was 2020. It is hard to believe after all that has happened, that it could even possibly be time to turn our attentions toward planning for Palm Sunday. But even in such a state, with so many things looking different, including how we worship together, life continues.

Eco-Palms are a project of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM), which works with the Rainforest Alliance TREES program and SmartWood to certify palms for sale to Christian congregations in the United States. Other entities that have been involved include wholesaler Continental Floral Greens and distributors Greenwing and Hermes Floral.

In 2020, the harvesting community expressed deep gratitude for the 1030 Presbyterian congregations that those of you who chose to keep your orders in place despite the tohubohu. And for the Presbyterian Hunger Program it was so inspiring to see that from utter chaos came an abundance of creativity.

South Broadland Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, MO was able to deliver palms to members in time for use in an online processional.

Grove Presbyterian Church in Danville, PA used their palms for decorating the outside of the building, erecting a 14’ cross, with palms strewn on the ground in front of it.

Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, MN used their palms for the greater community, filling large pots outside of their building that were in turn mostly empty by day’s end.

As everyone came together in these new ways to protect the health of our communities we also protected forests, local jobs, and sustainable livelihoods in the harvesting communities. Community members in the Maya Biosphere Reserve sort, package and sell the palms themselves — not via middlemen — so more of the money paid for the palms stays with the people who worked the hardest to provide them. Through the Eco-Palms project 25% of the cost of each frond is going directly back to the communities that harvest them.

In 2021 we have all faced economic impacts. Eco-Palm orders provide valuable health and education benefits to the harvesting communities in Guatemala.

Rosa Moreno, a member of the Cooperative Carmelita, has been doing quality control for palm selection since 2007. She shares that her work with Eco-Palms has allowed her to contribute financially to the care of her home and children and that she isn’t alone in that. “Everyone, from the harvesters to the transporters to the quality control selectors to the folks who package the palms for shipping, benefits in this way. We particularly thank the churches that annually make a special order. These orders provide a bonus to the communities that contribute to both education and health funds and strengthens the (emergency) fund set aside for the harvesters. Thank you on behalf of the board of directors and the Carmelita Cooperative… for your gesture of kindness in supporting the work of the Palm workers within the Maya Biosphere Reserve.”

The Presbyterian Hunger Program believes in the empowering work of Eco-Palms, perhaps now more than ever. Even though many of us aren’t gathering in a traditional sense, there is still a place for them in your virtual worship so we hope that you will consider ordering in 2021. The deadline for orders is March 5, 2021. Even if you place a smaller order than usual for this Palm Sunday, your orders are still having a big impact. Learn more about the Eco-Palm project here.

Working together, we do make a difference!

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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