The Gospel of Mark tells us that when Christ entered Jerusalem on a colt, the crowds welcomed him shouting “Hosanna!” and “spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields”. Jesus is greeted as a triumphant king entering the city. Today churches all around the world - just like yours - join in this celebration by waving palms, shouting “Hosanna!” and beginning the journey into Holy Week.
But do you know the origin of palm branches used by your church? Have you ever wondered who grows and then harvests them? Here are a few quick facts:
- Many harvesters are paid by the volume, no matter the quality they deliver, which incentivizes them to cut off more branches than needed thus damaging trees and contributing to deforestation.
- For communities of harvesters, palms are an important source of income but more often than not, gatherers aren’t paid fairly and receive a very low price from the buyer.
- Most harvesters are not a part of the post-harvest production and do not know what kind of quality to look for when gathering fronds. That means a portion of fronds they collect is then discarded due to being too small or blemished, which is obviously harming the environment.
For more than a decade, LWR’s Eco-Palms program has been working to ensure that for your congregation, the joyful celebration which begins on Palm Sunday is paired with the joy received by farmers and families that harvest the palms. Here’s how we do it:
- Eco-Palm harvesters receive a higher price for their palms, which improves their income and gives their families financial stability.
- Eco-Palm harvesters are trained on what to look for when harvesting and therefore only gather the fronds of the highest quality.
- Eco-Palm harvesters have permits from the government to maintain the bio-reserve where they harvest their palms. As a result, the rainforests are well-maintained and continue to support the harvesters’ livelihood.
- The harvested Eco-Palms are sorted and bundled by the women in the communities, instead of a distant warehouse, creating new jobs where previously there were none.
Remember that by choosing to wave Eco-Palms at the celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry, you’re also celebrating the importance of justice, fair trade and environmental consciousness.