Friday, August 16, 2013

A Family Tradition

Kathi Whalen is a Thistle Farmer board member and volunteer. Her family recently gathered for a family reunion and Kathi decided that her whole family needed to become Thistle Farmers.

Each year, my family gathers in Lake Junaluska, NC, for a week. We have a number of family traditions we enjoy when we are all together, including taking a family photo (this year, we were short two -- my brother and his son, who had a baseball tournament). For years, my parents had t-shirts made for us all, but more recently we have picked a color scheme and gone with that.  This year, at the grand opening of the Thistle Stop Cafe, I saw the Thistle Farms t-shirts and knew we had to have them for our family photo. Within minutes, I had texted my family members and gathered all the sizes and Penny and Anna pulled the 17 shirts I needed. My family members were delighted to wear them. And we continue to wear them in our communities in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee. My brother-in-law is a minister and has preached at least twice wearing his "Love Heals" shirt.  We are a "blended" family (30+years) and have two grandchildren who were adopted internationally.  We know firsthand that love does indeed heal.  We are thrilled to have shirts that proclaim it (and that promote Thistle Farms at the same time).   


You can purchase your very own LOVE HEALS t-shirts at our store (5122 Charlotte Ave.)
 or online: Men's shirts are found HERE and women's shirts are found HERE

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Meet Our Keynote Speakers: Dr. Nicholas Hitimana

Have we mentioned how excited we are about our first national conference Welcome tothe Circle - A Global Movement for Community Healing? We’re thrilled to have a group of world-changing speakers flying in for October’s event. You’ll have to race us to the front row to hear the informative and inspiring keynote speeches.

This week, it is our great privilege to introduce you to a dear friend of Thistle Farms, a visionary social entrepreneur and the person who is traveling the farthest to be with us for the conference: Dr. Nicholas Hitimana.

Dr. Nicholas Hitimana & Rev. Becca Stevens, with Thistle Farms Geranium Spray.

What can you expect to hear?
Nicholas will be sharing his experiences with agribusiness, social enterprise work and his vision for changing the global value chain.

A bit of his inspiring story…
In 2005, Nicholas founded Ikirezi, a community-interest business that partners with farming cooperatives in Rwanda to produce geranium oil for local and international markets. 80% of the members are orphans and widows of the genocide. During a 2008 trip to Rwanda, a team from Thistle Farms formed a relationship with Ikirezi and a social partnership was born. Thistle Farms began purchasing the organic geranium oil that is now featured in several of our products including the bestselling natural bug repellent, Geranium Spray.

In the 1990s, Nicholas was working for the Ministry of Agriculturein Rwanda when the genocide began to unfold. He fled to Europe in 1994 and subsequently received graduate degrees in Rural Development and Applied Entomology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He returned to Rwanda in 2001 and began his work with widows and orphans. He also founded the Village ofHope with 25 homes for widows and orphans and is Chairman of the Rwandan Agricultural Board.

Last year, during a visit to Nashville, Nicholas talked about the imbalance of the value chain in this world and how producers are usually at the bottom. He believes that by creating successful alliances between social enterprises, the profit share for producers will be increased. His narrative inspired Becca Stevens’ vision for the Shared Trade Alliance, which will be launched at the conference. We’ll be telling you more about it in the weeks to come so stay tuned.

Click HERE to visit Ikirezi. For more information about Thistle Farms’ First National Conference or to register go to or contact

Friday, August 9, 2013

We Want To Be The Best

It's time again for the annual Best of Nashville Awards presented by the Nashville Scene. 
We love and appreciate all of our friends and supporters, but want to make sure ALL of Nashville knows who we are and what we are all about. 

Would you help us spread our message that LOVE HEALS
by voting for us in this year's awards?

Simply go to the Best of Nashville Awards link here:
Sign in by creating an account or through Facebook.
Click BEGIN to start choosing!

Here are the categories we think we are the BEST in:

Food & Drink (Section 1):
Best Coffeehouse: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Restaurant Ambiance: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Service in a Restaurant: Thistle Stop Cafe

Home, Goods & Services (Section 2):
Best Place To Buy A Gift For Women: Thistle Farms
Best Nonprofit: Thistle Farms

Music, Arts & Entertainment (Section 3):
Best Local You Would Like To See Make a Cameo On Nashville: Thistle Stop Cafe

Media & Politics (Section 4):
Best Facebook Page: Thistle Farms
Best Local Twitter Account: Rev. Becca Stevens

People & Places (Section 6):
Best Place To Take Out-of-Towners: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Religious Leader: Rev. Becca Stevens
Best Community Role Model: Rev. Becca Stevens
Best Category We Forgot: Best Company Mission Statement (LOVE HEALS by Thistle Farms!)

You have to answer at least 20 questions in order for your answers to be counted. 
We've chosen 12  above, so that leaves you at least 8 to fill out on your own. 
Don't forget to support our retail partners and caterers when choosing other bests!  

Voting ends September 11th 
and we'll remind you again on our social media outlets.

Thank you again for your support and for helping us be the BEST!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thistle Stop Cafe Spotlight: David

This year, we broke ground on the newest "stop" in the Magdalene and Thistle Farms enterprise:  The Thistle Stop Café. It's been an amazing journey and we want to spotlight those who have unselfishly donated their time and skills to turning the space into the beautiful sanctuary. 

Today, we feature: David Powell, AIA – Principal with Hastings Architecture.

How did you hear about/get involved with Thistle Farms/Thistle Stop Café?

I have been friends with Becca Stevens since the mid 90’s and have believed in her heart and supported her visions any way I could over that time. I have consulted on initiatives relating to St Augustine’s, Magdalene, and Thistle Farms.

What is your role in the Café? Which element of the Café do you have the strongest personal connection with/are you most proud of?

Leigh, David, Becca & Ronza at the Grand Opening of the Thistle Stop Cafe
I was the Principal in Charge for Hastings Architecture (Architect of Record) on the Thistle Stop Café project. Leigh Fitts (project manager for Hastings) and I enjoyed working with the staff and design committee to help flesh out the vision of the space.  As an architect, it is always gratifying to witness the transformation of space. However, in the case of the Thistle Stop Café, that transformation was especially meaningful because of how it represented the transformation of lives. Somewhere along the way, the architecture became secondary to us and the true enjoyment was recognizing that the space was simply a vessel for healing and optimistic change.

What about the project/women inspires you? 

Initial Drawings of the Thistle Stop Cafe
What humbles me about the entire experience is God’s hand in overcoming extreme odds. Obviously, the overwhelming obstacles that the women face head-on and overcome are enough to inspire anyone with a pulse.  But it’s even bigger than that.  The generosity that pours out of the community to rally around projects such as this is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The facility is the beneficiary of a wide range of donations, including countless hours of volunteer sweat embedded in the construction. Many questions about how something was going to occur or how challenges were going to be resolved were miraculously solution-ed with last minute knights in shining armor. Again and again. Time after time. There is a divine hand of grace that covers the world of Thistle Farms. 

What brings people to the Café and keeps them coming back?

What will bring people to the Thistle Stop Café is the wonderful story. What will keep them coming back is the great service, atmosphere and tea. What will motivate people to tell others is how uniquely inspiring it is.

Stop by the This Thistle Stop Café at 5128 Charlotte Pike in Nashville,
find us online via our website / facebook / twitter,
or contact Courtney, the Café Coordinator at