Happy shopping! Place your order by 12/15 for standard shipping and 12/19 for priority to ensure delivery before Christmas

The Six Thistle Challenge

by Bingran Zeng July 20, 2013

No one, seriously, no one, has ever mistaken me for the outdoorsy type.  So when I say "I am a Thistle Farmer" the thought of me outside, on a tractor, sweaty, is a really valid reason to laugh.  I mowed the yard of my childhood home one time, as punishment for speaking disrespectfully to my mother.  My father decided on that day that HE had been punished far more harshly than I had been when he saw the nearly irreparable job I'd done to his previously lovely yard.

Farming: "0."
Going inside where it was nice and cool, to watch The Partridge Family: "1." 

I've spent a huge portion of my adult life working as Volunteer Coordinator at Thistle Farms. My skills lean toward a "sublime" category of farming, in that I have been given the opportunity to place and tend to volunteers from every possible background, age group, and skill set.  Seeing volunteers bloom into their places in our community has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Also, it can be done mostly indoors, away from the possibility of sweating or sunburn.


Metaphorically, I love thistle farming. I love the idea of taking something that people consider a weed and making it the star of the show. I love recycling. I love the changing of perspectives. I love the beauty contained in the restoration of dignity. But honestly, I don't get very excited by the prospect of climbing into a field of thistles to harvest a truckload full. You know, with what happened to the yard and all...

A few weeks ago, I was plucking the down from the thistles that had been in our weekly thistle arrangement at the Thistle Stop Cafe. Since we are dedicated recyclers, we use the feathery down from the thistles in those donated arrangements, along with all of the other donated thistle, in our handmade paper recipe. There were six thistles in this particular arrangement, as well as other beautiful wildflowers and foliage and when I looked down at my little pile of thistle down I thought about how six thistles looked like about the right amount for one 5 gallon bucket of paper pulp, which makes 25-30 single sheets of paper.  What would happen if lots of people each picked six thistles and put them all together? Wouldn't it be great to be a part of something so artful and so dependent upon people coming together as a community?

Six thistles …  I was excited by the prospect of what this could mean for us. Those of us who are gifted farmers, and those who aren't. All of us working together, doing something small and seeing the big difference it can make. Laughing, forgiving, and each of us finding our place with each thistle.  This is what Thistle Farms has always been. This is what we believe.

So I invite you to take the "Six Thistle Challenge." 

Sometime prior to July 28, pick six thistles. Choose dried thistles or choose blooming thistles and give them about five days to dry in your garage or any enclosed dry space. Bring your six thistles to Thistle Farms on Sunday, July 28, any time between 1-3 PM, and we will pluck the down from our thistles together in our circle of gratitude.

Your six thistles, along with every other farmer's six thistles will provide enough thistle down for our paper department for the next several months. Thanks, farmers.

By Stacye Wilson
Thistle Farms Volunteer Coordinator
 
Bingran Zeng
Bingran Zeng



Also in Community Blog

Meet Ericka: Professional, Board Member, Thistle Farms Graduate

by Melanie Reitz November 10, 2016

A 2003 Thistle Farms graduate, and now member of Thistle Farms’ Board of Directors, Ericka Monroe has a clear message for women coming into Thistle Farms: You can do it. In 2001, this is the message she received from Becca Stevens, and it has guided her ever since.  Ericka came to the program having spent four years on the streets. She was sure she wouldn’t stay, but, as she got to know the women around her, she realized there was something different here.


Read More
From the Streets to Accounts Manager: Chelle is Living Proof

by Melanie Reitz October 12, 2016

The growth Thistle Farms has enjoyed in the last several years has kept Chelle Waller, survivor-leader and Accounts Manager, very busy. As a 2005 graduate, Chelle has seen a great deal of change since she first began. “At one time, we were only about 5 women working here, just at one little table,” Chelle recalls. Now, Chelle manages the accounts payable process for a company with a $4 million budget.
Read More
We Are Not Alone: A Blog from Becca

by Becca Stevens September 19, 2016

On Thistle Farm's third trip to visit the Ikirezi community, Nicholas told me that our ecommerce partnership was important, not just because of the added economic value, but because it was a reminder that he wasn’t alone in this work. What he meant was that despite the overwhelming obstacles one faces in justice work out in the fields, we can overcome our times of loneliness and heartbreak if we work together.
Read More