Bryan Feil is a Lanna Foundation Board Member. This is his story of how he became involved with the Foundation and why he continues to serve.
My name is Bryan Feil and I have the privilege of being on the Lanna Foundation Board. I have been on the board since 2015, and the work that is happening through our partner the Integrated Tribal Development Foundation never seizes to amaze me. I first joined the board as the most recent CEO of Lanna Coffee, and it has been a mutually beneficial opportunity to straddle both lines of the non profit and the US-based coffee business as well. Due to the impact and goals of Lanna Coffee – which were to create an opportunity for our partners in Thailand (ITDF) to have a US-based presence in the specialty coffee market – it was a natural fit. The social enterprise of Lanna Coffee has been able to help back and support clean water projects, which is an integral component of ITDF alongside its coffee program.
Having the opportunity to visit Thailand and physically see the work that ITDF is doing within the Northern Hill Tribes of Thailand was nothing short of mind blowing. My heart and passion in missions has always been having the value of a holistic approach. If we just meet their spiritual needs without also addressing their physical needs it will be an incomplete picture and program.
ITDF truly works on gardens for food production, helping build communities around spiritual growth and also working to improve economic opportunities through handbags, coffee plants and livestock.
My first trip to Thailand was really a discovery of the work that was happening in Ma Oh Jo and beyond, really getting to taste and experience how coffee is grown, processed, and its journey to the US. It was a foundational trip, one that would set the tone for my future trips with Richard Mann and the ITDF team of meeting villagers around their incredible work with coffee.
One of the most important conversations I remember having was with Richard and a coffee farmer that had just shown up to the mill with a few sacks of cherries (the fruit of the coffee bean). He unloaded it, and we were asking him questions about coffee – how long he has been growing, how many trees, etc. When I asked him how much he anticipated to harvest this year he said it was around 4 to 5 sacks of green coffee (which is around 660 pounds), and it was enough to take him over the poverty line in his village. This stood out to me because of the power that coffee, together with his hard work, has to make a dramatic increase in the quality of life for him and his family. Those 5 sacks of coffee would become what Lanna Coffee would later be able to handle in a single day roasting coffee. The power of a crop to change the economic landscape of his family’s life continued to inspire me with vigor to grow and scale Lanna Coffee to be able to take care of more villagers.
I believe the work that Lanna Foundation is doing is so impactful, and even though we can feel distanced from the hands-on work, it’s nothing short of life-changing for those, both in the US and abroad, who get to contribute to this impact in Thailand. I am honored to stay a part of the Foundation team and continue to bring awareness in conversations, social media and activities that promote sustainable growth for ITDF.
We are all called to be great stewards of the skills and blessings that God has given us, I think my question would be, is there a place for you to participate in what is happening in Thailand through ITDF? Do you have a few weeks of your year to give in service? Is there a project you’d be interested in contributing to? Reach out and let’s connect!