Guayusa is grown in biodiverse agroforestry plots, or chakras
. To the untrained eye, these ‘forest gardens’ look like pristine natural rainforest, though, to the farmers who cultivate them, they are highly managed agricultural plots combining a diverse mix of plants. Guayusa is a shade-grown plant – meaning it needs the shade of other trees to fully develop – and flourishes in this setting.
After a long history of cultivation, guayusa no longer naturally reproduces. New trees are planted from cuttings. This process involves taking part of a branch from an existing tree and placing it in rich soil. New cuttings reach productivity approximately 3 years after planting, when they grow to a height of about 8 feet.
RUNA regularly purchases fresh leaves from Kichwa farmers. We then dry and mill the leaves in our processing facility in the small town of Archidona, in the Napo Province of Ecuador. The leaves are air-dried (we do not use burning wood in the drying process). [/column_half_last]