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Deadline to order Eco-Palms is March 5

Project has economic and environmental benefits

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

Many Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) churches found creative ways to use Eco-Palms last year. (Contributed photos)

LOUISVILLE — With Palm Sunday just nine weeks away, churches are encouraged to turn their thoughts to Eco-Palms by March 5, the deadline to order fronds.

In 2020, more than 1,000 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations ordered Eco-Palms, an environmentally friendly product that benefits communities in Guatemala. The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) hopes demand will be strong this year, too.

“We believe in the empowering work that it (the Eco-Palms project) does, allowing people who work the hardest to provide for themselves to reap the benefit from that,” said Jessica Maudlin Phelps, Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care Concerns for PHP. “This project allows the harvesters, as well as the congregations that are participating in Eco-Palms, to protect the health of the forest, local jobs and sustainable livelihoods in those harvesting communities. All of those things are ways that we address the root causes of hunger.”

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.

“The Rainforest Alliance has worked with the harvesting communities to do capacity building and quality control training and also best practices,” said Maudlin Phelps, who noted that the harvesting is done in an environmentally sustainable way.

The project also may contribute to reducing carbon in the atmosphere. With the “the agroforestry approach that they’re taking, the biosphere can do its job and help sequester the carbon, which is one way that we can combat climate change,” Maudlin Phelps said.

She also likes that the project is helping to benefit women in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, where the sorting, packaging and selling of the palms takes place.

“This is one of the ways in which they can work outside of the home, so it’s provided more of an equal opportunity for the women and they are actually in charge of the warehouse,” Maudlin Phelps said.

Eco-Palms can be used in numerous ways, including to adorn crosses or wreaths, enhance parades or processionals or be sent home for use by church members and friends and their families. Even without an in-person service, there can be “so much beauty and creativity,” Maudlin Phelps said.

“Even if you place a smaller order than usual for this Palm Sunday, your orders are still having a big impact,” she said.

Learn more about ordering Eco-Palms here. Find bulletin inserts here.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. It is supported by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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