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don-miguel-bcorpMore companies are becoming aware of the fundamental need to do business in a way that resonates with our greatest good. There are now over 1,000 certified Benefit Corporations worldwide, all finding their own way to meet “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

There isn’t one type of B Corp. We’re part of a diverse community of companies operating in different markets, each finding their own way to honor their deeper beneficial purpose. And each of us will do B Corp a little bit differently.

Part of our way of walking a sustainable path is by maintaining our grassroots approach. Guayaki began with a small team seeding yerba mate across the U.S., and we’re still a small team – although with our mission, we do big work. The way we think of Guayaki, those sharing our mate and participating in our business do the work with us.

We also don’t buy advertising — which can be challenging for a company in the North American drink market, where big-budget marketing is the standard. Our resources are budgeted so that most of our money goes to our rainforest reservations — and by our latest count, we’ve saved 29,600 rainforest acres in 2013, which is $29.5 million trees and $23.6 million in ecosystem services. If that money went to advertising, we wouldn’t get our work done.

Slow movement and lack of flash may seem counter-intuitive in our industry, but walking the slow road has helped us accomplish some beautiful work protecting and restoring the rainforest. And we can use the extra time to breathe and enjoy our steps amidst the trees.

 

mountainmateIn our latest giveaway, we’re listening to stories from Guayaki fans about their first yerba mate experiences. This week, our winner came from Instagram: Suzanne from Oregon shared this picture of a mountain and described her first gourd ritual, where she would watch the view and sip mate with a friend. When we heard the full story, we felt how powerful the mate really was in her life, and the subtle but crucial way it gave her strength.

Enter our latest giveaway by sharing your story on Facebook, Google+, or Instagram. Tag us and use the hashtag #yerbamatelife.

From Suzanne:

I’m originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. When Katrina hit in 2005, my husband and I lived less then a block up from the beach and everything was destroyed. A lot of friends and family had flooding or roof tile damage, our house was basically in the eye and it was beyond soul shattering.

We packed up the few things we had and came to visit friends that moved to Oregon. I’m sure we had post traumatic stress along with culture shock. Our amazing friends did everything to comfort us. Coffee is big out here, but in that state I could not even think of the jitters mixing with my imbalance of myself.

My friend made me some Guayaki Yerba Mate, and it began our mountain viewing ritual. Some days with a book, some days with music, some with tears. It really became my special thing that I could do (that and the show Arrested Development). Some days, they went hand-in-hand. I didn’t have to wake up and feel sad; I got up and was making my drink, and it’s what I was doing.

Eventually, we had to go back to Mississippi to deal with FEMA, and I had a duffle bag of Guayaki with me. Being back there was too tough, and most everyday I thought to myself, “It’s fine, we will move back to Oregon, I will sit with my drink and my mountain.”

In 2007, we moved back, and everything was awesome again. When I send a care package to my southern friends I always include things I know they aren’t ready for! Local chocolates, outrageous local publications, and mate. When a friend stops by having a tough day, I make them some with honey and half and half and we chill out. I have converters from coffee.

big yerba mate leaf

A big leaf of Ilex Paraguariensis, a.k.a. yerba mate.

Before our longtime mate scientist, Garth Hokanson, retired from our Guayaki family last month, he gifted us with some vital know-how on growing and maintaining yerba mate plants. Here’s his vital guide to learn more about the plant, great if you’re ready to cultivate your own Ilex Paraguariensis.

The Cultivation of Yerba Mate

By Garth G Hokanson

Yerba mate is native to a specific region of the world, principally Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. This region is similar to what we call the Mediterranean climate. Coastal California with its Mediterranean climate is a perfect location to grow yerba mate plants (Ilex paraguariensis).

Mate needs shady conditions with well drained soils. It likes frequent watering. The more shade, the larger and darker green the leaves grow. Plants grown in full sun will have small, narrow dry leaves that are bleached of some of their rich green color.

Yerba mate is part of the Holly (Ilex) family. The plants are dioecious, which means that seeds may produce male plants or female plants. Each plant will have only one sex. So if you eventually would like to harvest seeds from your own plants, you need a number of plants to hopefully get at least one male and one female. Flowers are tiny white star shapes. Not very showy as they occur on the stems, under the leaves, not at the tips or a flowering stalk. Berries start off green, turn a mustard color and then red and eventually with age to a dark purple red. At any of the red stages, harvest the seeds and dry them for several weeks. The fruit pulp which protects the seeds can be removed from the seeds to speed up germination, or you can just plant the entire dried berry.

Mate can be grown from seed or propagated by cuttings. Seed takes nearly 12 months to germinate. Seeds are about the size of grape seeds and should be planted twice their diameter deep, in a very fertile planting mix. Do not start them in an inert mix, like perlite or vermiculite. Since the plants are so small when they germinate, one must leave them several months in the seed flat until they get the second set of leaves before transplanting them to individual pots. The seed has a short life. Six months is about the longest you can get good germination from yerba mate seed.

Seedlings are very fragile for the first 2-3 years. They are best grown in a cold frame, hot bed or greenhouse for the first year.  The fragile plants are susceptible to snails, slugs and pill bugs, which can quickly eat the tops of the seedlings. Once the apex is gone, the plant will die. So take measures to guard against these pests. Growth of a seedling is very slow. Only about an inch a year for the first 2 to 3 years. When plants are 5 to 7 years old, you can expect between 2 to 4 feet of growth a year.

Propagation by cuttings is another way to start yerba mate. Half ripe cuttings about 4 inches long will root in perlite in about 6-10 months. Unlike the seedlings, cuttings are best in an inert media. As soon as the cuttings produce roots, they can be transplanted to a small pot with soil. Cuttings will give you a more robust plant but seedlings tend to have a vigor that outgrows the cuttings the first years.

Yerba Mate can withstand temperatures down to 15 degrees. So essentially most of coastal California up to Sonoma County are perfect locations. In the spring, summer and fall, the plants are a dark green with shiny leaves. At the first outbreak of cold weather the stems will start turning red and new growth will turn a purple to dark red color. This is simply the winter color and is normal. Extended freezes may cause plants to lose leaves, but they will grow back when warmer weather comes again. Plants do not need to be covered, if planted in the ground during bouts of cold weather. But it is critical that they stay watered, as a frozen root ball will remain at 32 degrees when air temperatures drop to the 20s. If you are growing mate in containers, then it is advised that you move the containers close to the house, under a roof eve or patio to help protect from extended cold weather.

Yerba mate comes from rainforests where dead tree trunks and leaves are continuously decomposing creating humic acid and a rich acidic soil. So a regular fertilizing plan is needed if you want to see rapid growth of your plants. Foliar fertilizer sprays or granular fertilizers will do fine. Choose fertilizers that are balanced, where the first number (Nitrogen) is approximately twice the second two numbers (Phosphorus & Potassium). Combinations like 18-6-5 or  20-10-10,  etc. are examples of combinations to look for. The key is to always keep the first number Nitrogen) high, which is responsible for stem and leaf growth. Turf fertilizer is too strong.  Bulb food 0-10-10 or similar low Nitrogen combinations will cause the plant to stop elongating and stop producing leaves and to begin producing seed, which is not what you want for the first 5 years.

When your plant grows large enough to harvest-about 4-5 feet, prune the plant back as you would a small fruit tree, leaving a strong limb base for future growth. Leaves and small stems can be separated from the thicker branches. Discard the thick branches and rinse the leaves and stems with cool water and allow them to dry. For best results, once leaves are dry, you can put the leaves on a cookie sheet and put them into a 400 degree oven for 2-3 minutes. This high heat (Sapecada) deactivates the leaf enzymes and keeps the leaves from fermenting. Then drop the temperature to 100 degrees for 2-3 hours. Or, after the Sapeco of 400 degrees,  just allow the leaves to air dry for a couple weeks, where there is no direct sun. Placing a paper towel over top of the leaves will prevent dust from settling on the drying leaves.

Once dry, you can crumble your leaves to fill a gourd, or French press or make your own tea bags and enjoy your very own home-grown yerba mate.

yes-on-522-success-kid

The day is fast approaching for Washington residents to vote on I-522, a measure that would require GMOs be labeled in products. Many companies in the organic world have been spreading the word about the bill for the past several months leading up to Nov. 5.

There’s a great deal more awareness surrounding the issue since the push for Prop 37 in California, and our vision is that state by state, we’ll work together to bring more food and product consciousness to everyone.

If you want to learn more about the issue — or you’re ready to arm yourself with some great points —  read the great FAQ at the Yes on 522 website. And make sure to share with your friends in Washington.

 

 

Guayaki Terere bottles

As the message of yerba mate continues to grow, we feel the call to evolve our offerings and share as much as we can about the significance of this plant. With love for mate’s incredible specialness, culture and meaning, our bottles have been reborn, and our line of “Pure” flavors will be called what they truly are: Tereré.

Tereré means “cold mate” in Spanish. It refers to the cool infusions of yerba mate beloved in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. You can’t go far in any of these lands without seeing mate lovers carrying a thermos full of ice water with a holster for a gourd or guampa, ready for a pour and share. Enjoyed with simply the rich flavor of the leaf or fused with lime, orange, pineapple, or any other citrus or juice, it’s a beautiful delight for the spirit on a warm summer day.

We’re excited to bring this piece of mate culture to our fans, friends, and family, further deepening our mate community and connecting to a tradition we know to be magical.

 

If you’ve been drinking Guayaki Yerba Mate for a long time, you know everything that we’re about. For people who are new to the wonders of the mate plant and the Guayaki mission, we find it hard to sum up everything that we do.

That’s why we turned to our friends at Free Range, a company that does wonderful storytelling work, and we’re amazed and grateful for what they were able to convey in just two minutes: The energy and power of yerba mate, our sustainable practices, our mission to restore 200,000 acres of South American rainforest, and our partnership with indigenous farmers. And a very cute monkey. It’s a gourdful!

Enjoy our new animated video and please post and retweet widely to help us get the message out. Thank you for continuing to share the gifts of the yerba mate plant, and for doing this very important work with us.

Since our inception, our fans have helped us save more and more rainforest each year. Last month, we tallied  everyone’s total impact for all of 2012, and the numbers blew us away! It’s nothing short of wonderful to feel our momentum growing and know that this year, we’ll save even more. But besides drinking more mate, what else can we possibly do to top numbers like these? As Luke shows us here at our annual team meeting, we’re saving over 24 million trees and protecting over 1 BILLION square feet of rainforest!

Luke presents our yerba mate drinkers' total impact in 2012 at Guayaki HQ

Many of us with a connection to the yerba mate plant can’t help but hear the call to help the forest as much as possible, which is just one reason the Guayaki Foundation established a page on GlobalGiving.org. Through the help of our fans, we’ve managed to establish a permanent presence on the site. Our donation page allows you to see where funds will be redistributed, and how much goes into protecting the harvest, and how every last dollar counts.

Guayaki drinkers are active participants in our mission and community, and this year, we’ll see it more than ever — from the rainforest protection already built into our business to the opportunity to raise more for the cause. As always, we’ll also be out in the world, sharing yerba mate with you, enjoying this planet, and discovering the many deep ways we can connect with it. Onward, to the forest!

 

Visit our donation drive on GlobalGiving.org to contribute: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/guayaki/

 

 

Our teammate Bobbi sent this message out to our staff this morning, which resonates with many of us across the country. Donate to relief efforts like the American Red Cross, GlobalGiving, or other relief efforts on the ground working to help victims at this time.

——————

Hurricane Sandy really did a number on the East Coast.  Even though you don’t hear much on the news there are thousands and thousands of people whose homes have been completely destroyed…and many more thousands who are not able to stay in their homes until all the damage is cleaned up.   They are dealing with muck and yuck and salt water that flooded their homes.  Mold is developing and the smells in their homes is horrible.  I understand there are even areas still without power.

These people will not be celebrating Christmas like you and I.

How do I know?  Because the Red Cross has asked my husband if he would be willing to spend a few more weeks on the East coast.   The Red Cross will not pull out until people are settled back in their homes.

If you are planning on making a charitable donation before the end of the year please keep the Red Cross in mind.  They are doing good work.

–Bobbi

 

The Guayaki teams in North and South America both work tirelessly and passionately for the same rainforest mission, but we don’t often get to spend time together. Our recent trip to visit the Ache Guayaki in Paraguay was a very special experience for us: we got to participate in the yerba mate harvest, connect with the rainforest, and for many of us, it was a chance to meet the rest of our Guayaki family for the first time.

We asked our team members who went to South America to send a picture that stirred a memory of the trip and tell us a story. Each felt something different; everyone felt something magical.

Luke

The photo I picked was taken the morning after we arrived. We had a long day of travel and an amazing day at the Iguazu falls the day before. That night, we met all the other people (now friends) at the lodge and shared our stories and just hung out learning about who we all are. We knew by the end of the night we had a very strong connection and the energy was building. The picture is of Alex and Boy under a umbrella of light, energy, spirit (you tell me) waiting to start a  trip down the Iguazu river.
Now after the trip I see the light as a bond taking place that we all became part of throughout the remaining days and time with our Ache Guayaki family.

don Miguel

Amongst all the photos that I took along the way, this one stands out to me as encapsulating the unity of our group with the Guayaki children.  Luke had the idea of walking around the village and looking for the church.  As we set out, the kids took us by the hand and led us along the way.  Through their village amongst the trees, we encountered pigs, chickens, and a big ol’ black cow grazing in the futbol field.  We saw a few men hard at work on their new school house, with a termo and guampa nearby for requisite breaktime.  Next to the schoolhouse, we saw the organic garden that had been planted in which the children took great pride.  The photo was taken as we had made a half lap around the village seeing the day to day goings on of the Guayaki people in their little piece of paradise in Paraguay.
 
 

Janal

I’m not sure who took this photo but I love it. It’s a beautiful moment when you find yourself coexisting with nature. Harvesting alongside the Ache makes you so keenly aware that you are part of something unique and how lucky you are to be embraced by this amazing community. It was the most gratifying work I’ve ever done and it gives my daily work an additional layer of personal meaning.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bernadette

That third and final morning was sublime as I had finally unwound and grounded into the experience.  It was a gestalt. There was the peacefulness of the rainforest and the bounty if offered in the newly harvested, aromatic mate. The feeling of shared purpose and  connection with the Ache community and those of us who came to participate. There was curiosity in the air.  Even though we were from different parts of the globe with very different lifestyles, we knew our lives were intimately connected. That was really cool to experience. 

This is one of my favorite photos, because of what it going on. This is a photo of the 1st milling/culling of the mate which is done by hand in the forest by the whole community; men, women and children (perhaps 6 and older).  The leaves are stripped from the branches and whole small stems with leaves are broken into 4 to 5 inch pieces in preparation for the flash drying. I loved participating!Us adults worked mostly quietly and repetitively.  The children laughed and played, feeling proud to be old enough to participate, and the teens poked fun with each other. I think I will always remember that crack, crack, cracking of the stems being snapped, the sounds of the forest and that pervasive feeling of connection. The sharing of a tasty mate gourd at break gave much needed energy to carry on with the labor and brought it full circle!

Mateo

This is one of my favorite pics because it captures Margarite and Alex, who is such a powerful visionary for the Next Economy and how we can live in balance and harmony with nature on this planet.  And Margarite struck all of us as such a powerful leader.  She was able to very succinctly summarize the Aché’s struggle: To protect the forest and to rise out of poverty while maintaining their indigenous traditions and way of life.  It is a pleasure to be working at the side of these two in working to support the Aché’s struggle, and the struggle we all face to save our planet from collapse and learn to live in a balanced way with all life on earth.

See more awesome pictures from our trip on Pinterest.

Donn Felker is CTO of tech company Qonqr and author of the books Android Tablet Dev for Dummies and Android App Dev for Dummies. Struggling with his coffee addiction, he made a Facebook post asking his friends for ideas. One of them suggested yerba mate, leading Donn on this journey:

gourdI never liked coffee until about my mid twenties. I found some sugary sweet drink that was some thing called a “latte”. I ended up liking it and ordered one whenever I met my friends at a coffee shop. Over time I noticed that these things also carried quite the “zing” (and jitters among other things) after I drank it. Before I knew it, a couple years later I was having a coffee every other day. Then I got married and my wife loves coffee. She brewed it all the time at home so I started having a cup here and there and made my own version of latte’s and such. Fast forward five years later and I’m a two cup of coffee drinker per day. If it was a late night it could be 3-4 cups of coffee to get the engine going.

As time progressed over the last year or so I noticed a change in the color of my teeth (as do all coffee drinkers usually). I brush my teeth so its not a hygiene issue. My dentist told me “you have very porous teeth, and if you drink coffee it will be absorbed into your teeth. Sure you can brush, but thats why your teeth are looking a shade or two darker.” That literally grossed me out. I was also growing very tired of the jitters and was beginning to have problems sleeping at night because I had so much coffee flowing through my system. I wanted to quit, I was done. I wanted brighter teeth (and better smelling breath, who likes coffee breath anyway?). So I tried to quit, cold turkey … oops.

Second day into quitting the massive headaches hit. I was grumpy, blah, not feeling good. Long story short, I started drinking coffee again. I tried cutting back, didn’t work. I tried slowly removing myself off of coffee, nope, didn’t work. I eventually didn’t even like the taste of it anymore, but I needed it. I couldn’t believe it… I was hooked on coffee. What the hell!  How could I let this happen!? Almost amused at the fact that I was hooked I posted on Facebook about how I was hooked on coffee and wanted to get off but wasn’t sure how. I mentioned I liked Yerba Mate and was going to give it a try but it seemed that the tea packets didn’t pack enough punch to help me get past NOT drinking coffee. That’s when my old friend Mateo commented and said I needed to try the loose leaf yerba mate instead.

new yerba mate drinker donn felker

After some conversation with Mateo about the loose leaf I was able to finally get my hands on some loose leaf Guayaki Yerba Mate as well as a Mate Gourd (a gourd is a cup that is made from a Gourd plant and is used in traditional drinking of the mate). Mateo informed me that drinking the mate that was loose leaf allowed the mate to be brewed as strong as coffee. Using the gourd took some getting used to, but I enjoyed it. It was a different experience and I’m glad to have one. However, I’m a klutz and I work at the computer a good part of the day so I could possibly spill it over a few thousand dollars worth of equipment – not good. To combat this and still have the great effects of the loose leaf tea but to also be safe around my electronics I picked up a French Press Travel Mug I can now bring Mate with me while I travel.

I used the gourd for about two weeks and noticed a great improvement in my quality of life. The first major benefit I noticed was that I slept like a rock at night. Apparently yerba mate helps you sleep at night when you drink it during the day. Very cool.  The second was that I did not have any caffeine/coffee withdrawals – I had plenty of energy.  Third, I didn’t experience the jitters or crash that you can get with coffee or even black or green tea.  I also felt VERY CLEAN when I drank it. Sometimes coffee (even with rice milk or almond milk) still sat very heavy in my stomach at times (this was only my experience so your mileage may vary). I did not have the brown staining effects of coffee as well as nasty coffee breath. Finally, I was able to finally kick the coffee habit. The one super nice thing about this? I’m able to enjoy an occasional coffee again. I still love the smell and the occasional taste of it. So every couple of weeks or maybe once a month I’ll have a cup of coffee, iced coffee or something that has coffee in it, simply because I want to… not because I have to. I’ve been able to go days without drinking tea and not have cravings or withdrawls of the sort. Overall its been a great experience.

Tips on kicking the coffee habit with mate: I’ve tried a few brands of mate and the kind that worked best for me (and the kind I liked the best) was the Guayaki Yerba Mate. You can find it at health stores like Whole Foods and the like. Make sure you buy the loose leaf kind and make sure you have a tea infuser, coffee maker for French press. Quitting coffee is like quitting any other drug – you have to be emotionally invested in quitting. Spend a few bucks, get a good infuser (get used to the occasional leaf in your tea, it won’t kill you) and/or a gourd. Drink it early in the morning when you wake up or when you normally drink coffee (I know many folks who only drink coffee after lunch). Basically… replace it with your coffee routine. I now take a bag of mate with me when I travel and I bring my travel press. Hot water is usually easily found at a hotel and then you’re off to a good morning with some good tea.

Have fun and enjoy!

– Donn Felker