In 1997, Episcopal priest Becca Stevens opened one home for four women survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution under the name Magdalene. Today the residential program of Thistle Farms provides housing for up to 32 women and serves hundreds more with advocacy and referral services. It also manages an inmate program, Magdalene on the Inside,for an additional 6 incarcerated women. The residential program offers housing, medical care, therapy, education and job training for two years, without charging women or receiving government funding. No staff member lives with residents and instead the community is guided by 24 spiritual principles .
Thistle Farms's social enterprises employs residents and graduates of the residential program. We operate a natural bath and body product line, the Thistle Stop Cafe, the Studios Workshop and Thistle Farms Global Marketplace. Housed in an 11,000 sq. ft. facility in Nashville, Thistle Farms is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage. We employ 45-50 residents or graduates, and through our Global partners, another 1,000 women are employed. Half of the leadership team of Thistle Farms are residents and graduates of the program.
By hand, the women of Thistle Farms make natural bath and body products that are good for the earth and for the body. We use premium, natural ingredients to create products that offer healing to ourselves and the world. The women of Thistle Farms become specialists in the areas of manufacturing, inventory, book keeping, sales and office administration. Thistle Farms products are available at our store online as well as over 450 stores across the country ( find a store here). We are committed to growing in order to employ more women and share our stories of healing on a larger scale.
Thistle Farms Global: A Shared Trade Marketplace, increases the share of profit margin for women survivors of addiction, trafficking, violence and poverty in 10 countries. Purchasing items from our 18 Global social enterprise partners offers women a space to experience economic opportunity and healing community. In collaboration with Thistle Farms Global, partner enterprises can hire more women and increase wages. As Thistle Farms founder Becca Stevens says, “We are acting globally so women experience freedom locally.”
We invite you to come to Thistle Stop Café whenever you are thirsty for tea, coffee, and a good story. With barn wood floors laid through the dedication of volunteers and cabinets handmade by inmates, Thistle Stop Café was built by and for the community. Staffed by graduates of Thistle Farms and volunteers from the community, the Café is a home to anyone who walks through the doors, whether for a cup of coffee or to join the movement.