Monday, August 27, 2012

Five Questions With... Betty

Wednesdays are one of our favorite days 
because of all the amazing VOLUNTEERS that appear!

Today, meet Betty Maddin
in a little series we like to call
Five Questions With....

1. How often do you volunteer at Thistle Farms?
Every Wednesday

2.  How did you find out about us?
Through Becca Stevens, whom I've known for many years.

3.  What have you done as a volunteer at Thistle Farms?
I've worked in the papermaking department, usually making cards or journals.

4.  Please share a favorite moment in your volunteer experience with us.
The meditation circle and making so many new friends.

5.  Use one word to describe your experience so far.

Do you need a little more fulfillment in your life? Check out our Thistle Farms & Magdalene Volunteers Facebook Page for lots of great opportunities.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Nashville Chamber of Commerce and Connections

We are so grateful to be new members of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. One of the first events we attended as new members was the "Pick Your Place" Luncheon. Katrina, Beth, Shana and I attended and while they were mingling with their fellow members, Shana looked up and yelled, “Oh my gosh!” It was her best friend from childhood, Odette Morales, who is the Accounting Manager at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. Odette was always one of Shana’s most steadfast and supportive friends during her more troubled times. It was so sweet to see them hugging each other and reconnecting in such a different place in life.

Shana said, "If you would ask me about one person in my life that sticks out, it would be Odette. Our friendship started in middle school. As we grew older, we grew apart, but Odette always seemed to find me. Imagine my suprise when I walked in and heard someone say my name."

By Deb, Thistle Farmer

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Chestnut Tree

I am sitting in the healing garden at Thistle Farms on a rock by the American Chestnut Tree. My bandana is soaked with sweat, but as I breath and see the tree, I  can taste LIFE!  Even though the chemistry between the chestnut tree and me are different. Our lives have shared a journey.

There was a time when billions chestnut trees produced fruit. Then through sickness and a blight it was traumatized so much that it stopped producing fruit. A few trees still existed but they weren't capable of doing the very thing God had put them on earth to do. When most people had given up on the American Chestnut tree, there were others who had not. One day through chemistry, soil, water and sun therapy, and nurturing hands the tree was able to once again thrive and produce fruit.

I remember when this tree was planted last year. I was thrilled I could watch it grow. The first month it did nothing. Second, third and fourth month it did nothing. The fifth month rolled around and I was really starting to believe that we had planted a dead tree! Watching the tree made me think about the people who cared for me and how they must have wondered, year after year, if I was ever going to start living rather than just existing.

A couple of weeks later though I walk out to the garden and to my joy and excitement I saw a bud slightly poking out from a twig. It felt good to believe in something and finally see some results.  It was a gift to see the tree spring back to life and start doing the very thing God had intended: produce fruit and share it with the world!

The beautiful supporters of the community of women at Magdalene and Thistle Farms and the small  American Chestnut taught me to never give up on the sick and broken things. We always should fight for life. No one or no thing heals on its own, it takes a community to help heal in love.

By Jennifer, 2012 Magdalene Graduate & Thistle Farmer

Monday, August 20, 2012

Five Questions With... Cindy

We are blessed to get some of the most talented 
and generous volunteers around.

Here's a volunteer spotlight 
(aka Five Questions With...)
on the super crafty

Cindy Zoesch.

1.  How often do you volunteer at Thistle Farms?
Weekly, on Wednesdays.

2.  How did you find out about us?
I read about you all in the newspaper and was very intrigued. 

3.  What have you done as a volunteer at Thistle Farms?
A variety of jobs in the papermaking department with plans to teach a couple of fun classes like cake decorating and other fun crafty things.  

4.  Please share a favorite moment in your 
volunteer experience with us.
Feeling welcomed by a particular Thistle Farms employee 
when I first arrived!

5.  Use one word to describe your experience so far.

YOU lift US up, Cindy!

If you want to get involved with Thistle Farms, 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This(tle) Teach Ya

Last Monday morning, we gathered early in the large, unfinished space on Charlotte Pike, future home of the Thistle Stop CafĂ©. Some days, the meeting area in the main side of the building just isn’t big enough to hold our ever-widening circle. We happily find the space to expand with it. Standing amid donated boxes of pre-loved teacups, we put out nametags, chairs, granola bars and coffee and said, “Welcome to the Circle” to visitors from Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky who were there to attend one of our monthly Education Workshops.

One of our primary goals is to spread the vision of Magdalene and Thistle Farms to a wider community. Two years ago we began to offer guests an opportunity to learn more about our organization through a day-long workshop. What began as a quarterly offering, has now grown to a monthly Education & Outreach program, fueled by increasing requests to share the model.

Attendees join the morning meditation circle, tour Thistle Farms, hear an overview from Becca Stevens, observe the manufacturing process, listen to stories from residents and graduates of the program, learn how to make paper, travel to the largest residence, and spend the afternoon in a Q&A session with Magdalene’s Executive Director Cary Rayson. During these past couple of years, we have welcomed more than 600 workshop visitors from 100 cities across the U.S. and beyond. Guests have included nonprofits, teachers, students, social workers, clergy, business professionals, doctors, police officers, and volunteers.

We want to be a voice in the dialogue that promotes women’s freedom. We want to encourage and support others like our new sister organizations Eden House in New Orleans and Clare House in Milwaukee to start and build their own communities. We want to host a national conference. We want to become a movement and we want you to join us.

Upcoming Education Workshop Dates include:

Please keep October 13-16, 2013 
in your calendars for 
The Magdalene / Thistle Farms 
First Annual Conference. 
Stay tuned for details.

To attend an upcoming immersion day or for more information, please contact Deb Markland at

Special thanks to our Education Workshop sponsors, Creative Nation MusicThrifty Car Rental Nashville & the Marjorie A. Neuhoff Foundation, Inc.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Five Questions With... Margot

Today's post features another lovely lady 
and dedicated volunteer Thistle Farmer, Margot Baeder.

Get to know Margot a little more with her
 Five Questions With...
interview below.

1.  How often do you volunteer at Thistle Farms?
Weekly on site, and several hours a week from home

2.  How did you find out about us?
As a visitor of St Augustine's Chapel, when Thistle Farms was still located there. Years ago!

3.  What have you done as a volunteer at Thistle Farms?
Fundraisers graduations, and I teach volunteers to paint thistles for the bookmarks and journals. Lot's of things and I love all of it.  

4.  Please share a favorite moment in your volunteer experience.
When I walked in on a Wednesday morning and some of the volunteers I had taught had already gotten all of the paints and bookmarks ready and were painting on their own without any instruction from me.  

5.  Use one word to describe your experience so far.

Margot, we're pretty sure fantaculous is a cross between fantastic and fabulous and if so, YOU are pretty fantaculous yourself! We are grateful for your presence each week in our circle and in the paper room.

If you want to get involved with Thistle Farms, 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Captain & Tea Tree Mint

I live in Fort Dodge, Iowa and have two horses, Captain and Daisy. Both of them had a bad case of ear mite infestation and were pretty miserable. Their ears were full of bugs and nasty sores that bled profusely.  I had been to Magdalene/Thistle Farms for the Education Workshop with a group of women this past spring from Fort Dodge and we heard the wonderful stories you all had shared.  I had purchased the three bottle set of Healing Oils you make there with the geranium, cinnamon, and tea tree oil.  I knew that tea tree oil had great healing properties and decided to give it a shot on my horses' ears.  So, once a day I swabbed out the insides of their ears with Thistle Farms' Tea Tree Oil and by the end of the 3rd day, their ears were free of any sign of soreness, infection or insects at all. In addition, they had clean, dry and great smelling ears!

Guest post by Kristine from Ft. Dodge, IA