Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ceremonial ashes have tropical roots

Ever wonder where the ash that's smeared on foreheads for Ash Wednesday comes from? Palm fronds saved from the previous Palm Sunday.

Ever wonder where the palm fronds come from? Increasingly, Mexico and Guatemala, thanks to a program administered by a university in an utterly untropical part of the world: Minnesota.

Eco-Palms is a program developed by the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management at the University of Minnesota. Dean Current, program director, said the idea is to foster sustainable production of palms and economic development opportunities for Mexican and Guatemalan communities.

Fronds and stems used year-round in floral arrangements, and for Palm Sunday, are shipped to customers in the United States, Canada and Europe as part of the environmental cooperation initiative sponsored by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Read the rest of the story at the Post and Courier

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