From the Thistle Farm and Magdalene Websites
Founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt's campus, Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms is our social enterprise…We furnish housing for 30 residents and graduates and provide outreach services to women still living on the streets. New residents are given a key and are offered the necessary resources to maintain recovery, heal from childhood wounds, become physically healthy and find employment.
After four months, the women find work, return to school and/or enter Magdalene’s job training program at Thistle Farms, a social enterprise. Magdalene also offers a matched savings program to help residents prepare for economic independence upon graduation. Women who remain in recovery two years post-graduation are eligible for a new home buying program administered by two local congregations and Magdalene.
Thistle Farms is the social enterprise that is run by the women of Magdalene. By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.
Thistle Farms employs approximately 40 Magdalene residents or graduates. While working at Thistle Farms, women learn skills in manufacturing, packaging, marketing and sales, and administration. It is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage. Employees have the opportunity to put a percentage of their earnings in a matched savings account provided by Magdalene. Through Thistle Farms, the women of Magdalene gain much needed job skills, and learn responsibility and cooperation. Thistle Farms is housed in an 11,000 square feet sales and manufacturing facility. Thistle Stop Cafe, and the paper and sewing studios are also in the same building. We are committed to growing in order to employ more women and have greater opportunities to share our stories of healing on a larger scale.