Have you heard of guayusa?
Guayusa is an Amazonian super-leaf packed with natural caffeine and polyphenols. RUNA, founded by Tyler Gage, is a social enterprise that brings guayusa to our doors while supporting indigenous farmers and reforestation in the Amazon. Over the past few weeks, members at The Yard have enjoyed samplings of the delicious, healthy beverage and have learned about RUNA's inspiring beginnings.
We sat down with the team at RUNA to hear about Tyler's story and the company's incredible mission.
Q: How did drinking tea abroad turn into a full-fledged commitment of bringing guayusa to the states?
Tyler Gage went to the Amazon Rainforest driven by curiosity, and left driven by a purpose.
Out of a peculiar interest in studying Amazonian languages, Tyler grew his appreciation for the deep relationship the indigenous people have with the jungle as the original supermarket and pharmacy. His enthusiasm developed for finding ways to share the rich vitality of the rainforest with the world, in ways that improves livelihoods for the native communities.
And from this spirit, RUNA was born.
He came home to partner with co-founder, Dan MacCombie, and introduce the guayusa leaf to communities outside the jungle for the first time. Grown where the Amazon Rainforest meets the Andes Mountains, guayusa is celebrated for providing mental focus and clarity throughout the day. Possessing a natural combination of caffeine and polyphenols, the potent lift from guayusa was undeniable.
Returning to the Amazon, Tyler and Dan built innovative partnerships with native farming communities to directly source guayusa and sustainably grow it in the rainforest. From there, they created RUNA iced teas and clean energy drinks, as invigorating drinks that bring a spark to the everyday and a nod to the uncommon.
Today, RUNA buys organic guayusa leaves from over 3,000 farming families and has planted over 1 million trees.
Our mission is to continue to share the spirit of guayusa and support the native Amazonian communities through, what we believe, is a most extraordinary drink, RUNA.
Q: How has the mass production of guayusa affected farming families in Ecuador?
RUNA cultivates meaningful relationships with thousands of farming families who grow the organic leaf with us, continually revitalizing the rainforest they call home. Our approach is unique; working with each farming family from harvesting to supply chain, ensuring that our practices are Fair Trade certified and gives families and communities a positive economic impact. We now create over $200,000 / year of income for more than 3,000 farming families.
Q: Now is a better time than ever for people to take on projects that truly reshape the way we live. Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs trying to make a global impact?
Follow your heart. You'll never go wrong!
At The Yard, we love living a healthy, productive lifestyle, and we're so grateful to have found RUNA to keep us going!