This morning, as on most mornings, I brewed a 4-cup pot of coffee to begin my day. I never knew what it took to produce something that I have taken for granted most of my life.
Last week, five of us from Legacy Church, traveled to the Bolaven Farms in Laos. There we saw the work we have supported for over a year to bring sustainable living to the farmers who worked the coffee fields. I have more appreciation than ever for what Sam Say and his team are accomplishing for those who work on the farm.
Their motto is "beyond fair trade and organic." I learned that you can be labeled a "fair trade" company with only a percentage of your product designated that way. Sam wants to move beyond getting the sticker on the coffee bags for fair wages to providing a life of hope in which one day each family trained on the farm will have their own farm.
And, you can be labeled organic and still use certain pesticides. Not on the land we saw. The farmers use everything from earthworm castings and urine, fermented rice, fish and meats, and cow and goat manure to keep away bugs and fertilize the coffee trees. It's a smelly, dirty process, but the coffee is clean and organic in every way. (The hut is affectionately called the "laboratory" where some of the items are fermented and collected.)
The labor on the farm is the way it has been done for centuries, mostly by hand. I have a new appreciation for the working poor of the world. We got a taste--only a taste--of the back-breaking drudgery of manual labor as we cleared weeds between rows of seedlings and planted some hundred coffee trees. We swapped English words for Lao and laughed at each others pronunciations.
As always, it's about the people. I'll tell you more on my next post about the families and their lifestyles on the farm; but, people are people whom God loves and sent His Son to die to restore His relationship with them.
Ultimately, that message and hope are why we use Bolaven Farms coffee exclusively at Legacy Church and why many of us subscribe to the coffee each month.
If you would like information how your church can use this coffee with the purpose of hope or how you can subscribe to it personally, you can go to the Bolaven Farms website or contact Jodie Miller or me.
You can see more pictures on my facebook page.