Thursday, June 30, 2011


A serendipitous moment by Victoria Banks:

I was checking in at the Nashville airport, and when the lady at the front desk leaned down to put the bag tag on my guitar case, she saw the Thistle Farms sticker on there...and she shouted "THISTLE FARMS!!!! Are you affiliated with them???" I told her I'm a musician and I do what I can to promote the organization, talk about it on the radio, etc....and she almost started crying!! She kept thanking me profusely. And then one of her coworkers came over and told her she'd better hurry up and process my bag because of the long lineup behind me. But she kept thanking me over and over again even when I was walking away. So sweet!!! Not sure if she had a personal history with the organization or not - I would suspect so, with a reaction that powerful. It was a pretty cool moment.

Victoria (pictured above at Thistle Farms with Tammy, Cynthia, Valerie, Victoria's manager - Kate and Tracey) is the Canadian Country Music Awards 2010 Female Artist & Songwriter of the Year. You can also see her support women's freedom by painting her nails purple (using our Sandal Survival Kit) on our Facebook page.

We're so grateful to you for your support, Victoria!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Am A Thistle Farmer: Kay

It started with providing lunches for the women at Thistle Farms and has turned into chairing the Fall Fundraisers and introducing the Mayor at receptions. Meet Kay, A Thistle Farmer, and supporter of our 10 Year Anniversary.

You can see all of our videos on our YouTube channel:

Videos by Becky Fluke

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reception Success

On June 15, Thistle Farms officially celebrated it's 10 Year Anniversary with a reception at its manufacturing building at 5122 Charlotte Pike.

Mayor Karl Dean was on hand to celebrate the milestone,

and Bill Haslam, the Governor of Tennessee, proclaimed June 15 a day of recognition for Thistle Farms.

Thanks to everyone who attended! For all photos of the celebration, see our album HERE.

Friday, June 24, 2011


One of our favorite parts of hand making and selling good-for-you-and-for-us products is hearing your reactions to them. We like to share this with our other friends in a blog feature we call TESTIMONIAL! If you have tried out one of our products, visited the store, seen Thistle Farms featured in any publication or just want to let the world know how much you love Thistle Farms' products, we want to hear about it.

Today's TESTIMONIAL! comes from a letter written by the Robins class from Montessori Centre.

Dear Friends at Thistle Farms,

We are the Robins Class from Montessori Centre. Some of us are 4 years old and some of us are 5 (or 5 1/2!).

Every day at rest time, we like to use the Lavender Body Balm to help us calm down. We think it smells like lemon and grape and peach and sunflowers. We learned that lavender flowers come from France. We also learned about the Magdalene house and the work you do at Thistle Farms. We love the lavender and we wanted to thank you for making it.

We love you!
You never know where a TESTIMONIAL! is going to come from. Thank you Addie, Mahoney, Brooks, Keelan Grace, Lauren, Autumn, Trevor and Luke. We love you too!

To smell our delicious body balm yourself, go to our online store. If you have a TESTIMONIAL! you'd like to share with us, email and tell us your story!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Am A Thistle Farmer: Valerie

10 years ago, Valerie was on the streets and in jail. Today, she is the Shipping Manager for Thistle Farms and is one of the more established members in the community that new women turn to for advice. In conjunction with our 10 Year Anniversary, meet Valerie.

You can see all of our videos on our YouTube

Videos by Becky Fluke

Sunday, June 19, 2011


On your day
I just want to say
I love you
Cause you are so true
To this family and your children
We didn't have much
In material goods
In fact what you could call dirt poor
You worked so hard to provide
Usually 60 hours a week
To make sure we were clothed and fed
We didn't have a fancy car
It was a rusted out '72 pickup truck
But it was our rockstar
As we would go bumping down our gravel driveway
The place we called home
It was fallen down to say the least
But it was shelter
It was a three headed beast to fix up
You worked long hours
Often into the wee hours of the morning
To fix every hole and leak
But what people fail to see
Is that we were millionaires in love
With church every week
School everyday
You did your duty
Now, I want to say have a great father's day.

by Lydia, Magdalene resident and Thistle Farmer

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Paint Your Nails Purple For Women's Freedom

Want to support women's freedom with an outward, visible (and fashionable) sign? Paint your nails purple for women's freedom! In conjunction with our 10 Year Anniversary celebration, we are asking friends to paint their nails purple (with polish from our Sandal Survival Kit), snap a picture and send it to us. We hope to create a collage of fingers and toes from around the world, showing support and solidarity to an important cause.

Here's a simple step by step way to participate:

STEP 1: Get your Thistle Farms Sandal Survival Kit online or at a local retailer.

STEP 2: Paint your nails purple with the No Miss Las Olas Lily polish found in the kit. (It's helpful to paint with a friend too!)

STEP 3: Snap a photo of your fabulous nails (both fingers and toes are welcome!) and post them on the Thistle Farms' Facebook wall or email to Make sure you tell us your first name & where you're from so we can add you to our Purple Nails photo album.

We've already got some purple painters on board, like Reba McEntire, The Indigo Girls, Melissa Peterman and Victoria Banks. Join in the fun and show your true colors.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Am A Thistle Farmer: Becca

Becca Stevens founded the Magdalene program in 1997 and started the cottage industry, Thistle Farms, in 2001, so the women of Magdalene would have a place to work. Here, Becca talks about how a social enterprise is started and describes the intricate beauty of her favorite Thistle Farms' product, the healing oils. Another part of our video series, I Am A Thistle Farmer, as part of our 10 Year Anniversary celebration.

You can see all of our videos on our YouTube channel:

Videos by Becky Fluke

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

10 Year Anniversary Reception Invite

Wednesday, June 15,
Come get a tour, meet the women, paint your nails purple (we'll provide the nail polish), eat refreshments provided by the Men's Group of St. Paul's in Franklin and Colt's Chocolates...and stock up on Thistle Farms products! Here is the schedule:
A TV production team will be on hand taping for a documentary series, Turning Point - a new series to air this fall on PBS.

RSVP not necessary, but appreciated to Marlei.

Thistle Farms

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Am A Thistle Farmer: Yolanda

Meet Yolanda, one of our community's newest members. Yolanda works in the shipping department and has one year clean. We are so proud of her and how far she's come on her journey. Hear first hand how love heals as we continue to celebrate our 10 Year Anniversary.

You can see all of our videos on our YouTube channel:

Videos by Becky Fluke

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Scouting & Harvesting

We've talked before about the why we chose the thistle for our company name. Thistles grow on the streets and alleys where the women of Thistle Farms walked. Considered a weed, they have a deep tap root that can shoot through thick concrete and survive drought. And in spite of their prickly appearance, their royal, soft purple center makes the thistle a mysterious and gorgeous flower.

We rely on friends and supporters to let us know where they find thistles (scouting) and bringing them to us (harvesting) so we can continue making beautiful handmade paper for our healing oils and new line of greeting cards.

Alex, a Thistle Farmer, shares a story of her latest adventures in harvesting thistles:
On my nightly ritual of stopping on the way home to pick thistles, what a delight to have a policeman stop. My first reaction was panic and paranoia at being parked on the sidewalk picking wildflowers. When I told him what I was doing and did he know about Thistle Farms ....he said "yes," gave a huge smile and just said, "be careful." When I followed with "thank you for not giving me a ticket," he responded "never!" Interesting of all the people who have stopped to see if I was OK on these endeavors, the first to know of Thistle Farms was a policeman. Something's working!!!

But how, exactly, do you harvest thistles? Watch our Harvesting Thistles How-To Video Guide below to see just how easy it is. Plus, if you spot any thistles in your daily travels, you can post them on our Thistle Farms & Magdalene Volunteers Facebook page.

Being a Thistle Farmer means the world is our farm. Harvesting thistles is a way of walking in the world and choosing to love the parts of creation that others have forgotten or condemned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Love Us? Then Please Like Us!

Week 2 of our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration provides an easy, fun & FREE way for you to help spread the word about Thistle Farms and our mission to provide education and training to 10 new women this year.

- On Facebook, go to the Thistle Farms Page.

- Click "Like"

- Tell all of your friends on Facebook to do the same!

Wah-lah! You've just helped Thistle Farms grow in 3 seconds. Wasn't that easy?

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Am A Thistle Farmer: John

We continue to celebrate our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration by introducing another Thistle Farmer: John. Yes, it's true -- men can be Thistle Farmers too! Hear about John's involvement in the community through his work at Belmont and find out what he's learned from the women in the program.

You can see all of our videos on our YouTube channel:

videos by Becky Fluke

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Prayer From Nebraska

A reflection from Becca Stevens:

Jordan, Amy and I are getting ready to present at this gathering. It's the moment before we begin to make friends with people we have never met. We have done all our work to prepare, we have made tons of products, I've written a talk about who we are and how we fit into their vision of growing faith, and the table is set. Now we are just sitting and waiting as the business part of the gathering unfolds.

The time before is always full of anticipation--- when I second guess myself, the work, and if it will be okay. I bet I have sat in this space a thousand times, but still the worry that it won't go well rises in my chest and I feel worried that I might let the community down. "What if it doesn't go well? What if we come all this way and sell just a few hundred dollars?" There are another few questions like this that pop into my head. "That never happens," I remind myself. "Carole, Tim and Holli will be fine with us no matter what." If I worry about this, Jordan and Amy must feel the same way.

I remember, sitting in the back, that I have prayer. It is honestly the only thing that helps me before it all unfolds. And here is mine:

Please let me get out of the way.
Remove all my old ego stuff.
Let me make this day an offering and be open to the spirit moving---in my talk, in my conversations, and in my heart.
Forgive me all my impatience and worry.
Thank you for loving all of us.
Thank you for this chance to make new friends and for the work of Thistle Farms.

Becca Stevens is today's keynote speaker at theNebraska Synod Assembly in Fremont, NE. With her are Thistle Farmers Jordan and Amy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Am A Thistle Farmer: Phyllis

During our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration, we will feature 10 people in our community in our video series: "I Am A Thistle Farmer." In this episode, meet Phyllis, a sales & marketing representative at Thistle Farms. Learn about Thistle Farms' humble beginnings and hear the most important principal Phyllis has learned while working at Thistle Farms.

You can see all of our videos on our YouTube channel:

videos by Becky Fluke

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Celebrating 10 Years of Thistle Farms

Over the past 10 years, Thistle Farms has grown from a line of two products made by four women in a church kitchen, to a company housed in an 11,000 square foot manufacturing and sales facility that employs 32 women and has a line of over 20 products. Over 100 women have been trained and employed over the past decade. Our products are available in 140 stores across the country, including a number of Whole Food stores.

In honor of our 10th year anniversary, the month of June is dedicated to promoting and celebrating our community. By helping raise money and awareness, we can keep our doors open and bring new women off the streets and into sanctuary.

Through word of mouth and social media (this blog, our Facebook page & Twitter account), we will offer a new way each week for our friends to help. We will also introduce 10 Thistle Farmers -- videos of members of our community, talking about where they were 10 years ago and what Thistle Farms means to them.

Here is our first week's (and throughout the month of June) request:

Raise $10,000 to provide education and training for 10 new women beginning work - and a new way of life - at Thistle Farms.

Simple Steps to fulfill Week #1's goal:

1. Go to this website:

2. Click on the green "GIVE" button

3. Choose the tier you would like to donate or type in your own amount

4. Fill out all pertinent information & click on the green "DONATE NOW" button

5. Share this link with your friends on email and via Facebook (easy as "like" the link)

6. Give yourself a big hug, knowing you just helped another woman begin a new way of life!

note: you do not have to have a Facebook account to donate, even though this is a Facebook-related Cause page.

Thank you, in advance, for your support and please continue to check back each week for more fun and meaningful ways you can personally help a woman find her way home.