St. Peter's purchases Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday

More than 300 million palm fronds are harvested each year for use in the U.S., mostly for Palm Sunday worship and floral displays for church-related events, according to Lutheran World Relief in Baltimore.

But the overproduction of palms threatens forests and the livelihoods of families who harvest palms in Guatemala, Mexico and elsewhere.

Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was celebrated by using palm branches, according to the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible. Lutherans and other Christians around the world recount this story of Jesus, re-enacting the waving of palms on Palm Sunday.

To celebrate Palm Sunday on April 13, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, 1545 E. Farm-to-Market Road 1961 in Ander, is partnering with Lutheran World Relief to use Eco-Palms. St. Peter's worship service begins at 9 a.m.

Usually, palms are harvested in rainforests that are critical habitats for migrating birds. The more palm fronds harvesters cut, the more income they generate, encouraging overharvesting and threatening the rainforest. Middlemen transport the palm fronds out of communities for processing, where more than half of the palms are discarded because of poor quality.

Eco-Palm harvesters, however, gather only quality palm fronds in a way that allows the plant to keep growing. The communities process and package the palms instead of selling to middlemen, allowing them to capture more of the profits. With this money, harvesters buy shoes and school uniforms for their children and can pay for basic health care.

These jobs also mean youth stay in their communities instead of migrating for work.

Five cents of every Eco-Palm sold for Palm Sunday directly funds projects that improve the lives of all community members. This money provides scholarships for students, pays a teacher's salary and supports elderly members of the community.