Evelyn R. Nimmo, Alessandra Izabel de Carvalho, Robson Laverdi and André E. B. Lacerda
In: Urban Agriculture Magazine no 35 - Youth in Food: Opportunities for education and employment, p.38-39 (2018)
The production of erva-mate (yerba mate, a tea commonly consumed in southern South America) in traditional agroforestry systems in southern Brazil is a practice with roots in Guarani indigenous culture that has continued for generations on small-scale family farms. These systems take advantage of erva-mate’s characteristic as an understory tree and make use of the forest cover of larger tree species, many of which are endangered, to provide the shade necessary for erva-mate to thrive. The use of the natural forest structure has led to the preservation of important forest ecosystems in a region plagued by deforestation and land conversion to large-scale monocultures. Despite the important role these farmers play in local ecosystem services and food security, their knowledge of the forest, and the agroecological practices they use, are often devalued or ignored.