Mate Makers – Biodiversity by the Family Gehm

A centenary native Mate Tree on the property of the Family Gehm near Seberei. Skills are required to climb up 30 meters to harvest the leaves.
Today the Family Gehm’s property is a small oasis in a green desert of Soya Fields. All of their neighbors have sold their property and moved to the town.

Salete and Vilsom Gehm are on the verge of witnessing a new era in the mate making history of their family that spans four generations. Almost 40 years ago the couple bought a piece of land in Seberei, close to where they grew up and began to plant and work with mate amidst the green deserts of Soya fields that had taken over the region. Over the decades their neighbors moved away, yet the family remained, and today their sons Tiago and Ticiano decided to swim against the mainstream of younger generations who move from the country side to the city, and stay with their families to work with the land.

40 years of drinking good mates together – The Cuia is always circulating in the house of the Family Gehm. In the mornings and evenings the whole family gathers around the kitchen stove (in the winter) and porch (in the summer) to pass the cuia around and spend quality time together. The mate (like almost everything else this family consumes) is self-made.

20 years ago, Sr. Vilsom had the foresight to start planting mate on this property. Today on their 13,5 hectare lands there is a rich variety of Mate trees growing in the shade of a planted forest. The trees are generally placed 2-3 meters apart which makes it easy to walk into the forest and harvest by hand.

The Mate trees on the Family Gehm’s property varies in size and taste. Sr. Vilsom knows which leave are ideal to havest in different situation, and this knowledge has been passed down to his sons. Small shiny leaves, e.g. have a stronger flavor whilst little white spots on the leaves indicate that the plant is perhaps under stress and the flavor of the mate can vary greatly depending on which leaves are harvested.