Thursday, February 26, 2015

More Healing. More Hope. Moringa Tea.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Move over apple, there’s a new superfood in town and it has such a vast range of health benefits, you might soon forget you ever had a doctor. This superfood is Moringa Oleifera, better known as the “miracle tree” plant native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Credit: Kelsey Cherry


Though much sought-after in those regions, people are just getting to know about the health benefits of Moringa in the western world. Thistle Farms is one of the first to really promote Moringa as a healing tea. Rather than sell the leaves as an herb, Thistle Farms has combined Moringa leaves with Kenyan black tea and lemongrass, producing a delicious and nutritious herbal tea blend.


On top of that, just as Moringa has healing properties for the immune system, Thistle Farms’ collaboration with the “Moringa Madres” of Juan Cosala, Mexico brings healing to women of the two social enterprises. These women of Mexico grow and harvest Moringa tea leaves, and Thistle Farms purchases the leaves so that meaningful work and income can be provided for impoverished women in that region.




So, back to Moringa - why “miracle tree” (or miracle tea)? For starters, the amount of healing properties this plant possesses is miraculous in and of itself. 

Here are several known benefits found in the leaves of a Moringa tree:
-Increases energy
-Balances blood sugar and normalizes blood pressure
-Contains proficient amounts of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A
-3.5x more Vitamin C than oranges (per 1 cup Moringa tea)
-2x the calcium as milk (per 1 cup Moringa tea)
-2x the Vitamin A than in carrots (per 1 cup Moringa tea)
-Strengthens immune system
-Natural anti-inflammatory
-High in potassium
-Over 46 antioxidants
-Enables better sleep (no caffeine!)

Nature’s healing powers through this plant have not gone unnoticed. Recently Dr. Oz listed moringa as one of "5 Ways to Re-energize Your Day," highlighting its nutrient-density. Soon after, the Los Angeles times wrote:


“Moringa sounds like Magic. It can rebuild weak bones, enrich anemic blood and enable a malnourished mother to nurse her starving baby. Doctors use it to treat diabetes in West Africa and high blood pressure in India...and it's not only good for you, it's delicious."


With Thistle Farms’ Moringa Tea, you can be healed.
For the Moringa Madres, you can be a healer.



The Moringa Tea blend can be purchased at the Thistle Stop Cafe or online at our Thistle Farms website.


Visit our shared trade site to learn more about the Moringa Madres and our other shared trade partners.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Where the Path is Leading Shana & Shelia Today: A Path Appears Update

A Path Appears: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a 3-part documentary from journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn that explores gender-based oppression, as well as effective solutions, across the U.S. and abroad. The first segment of the film explores sex trafficking, prostitution and the connections with early abuse, and features the stories of Shana Goodwin and Shelia McClain, both graduates and employees of Thistle Farms & Magdalene. As the documentary was filmed in 2013, we thought viewers would like to know a little about their lives today.


This past weekend, Shana Goodwin moved into a cozy new 2-bedroom home with plenty of space for her kids and the goal of homeownership on the horizon! Reflecting on where she is today Shana says, “I’m just grateful. Every night when I lie down in my bed, I think of those nights of sleeping under a bridge. I never want to forget. My next thought is that there's still a girl under there now. I feel it in my gut – the desire to help the woman who is still out there.”

Shana is a Thistle Farms sales representative and a vital member of our retail team. One of the best ways to help her in her mission to bring more women off the streets, is to recruit new retail stores to carry our line around the country. Have a favorite local bath & body care shop? Tell them about Thistle Farms and encourage them to carry our product. You can reach out to the Thistle Farms sales team and give us your suggestions by CLICKING HERE.


In August, Shelia Simpkins McClain earned her B.S. in Psychology. With the goal of earning a master’s degree in mental health counseling, Shelia is already using her education in her work at Magdalene and as an Intervention Specialist at End Slavery Tennessee. When asked what getting this degree means to her, Shelia said, “I was raised to believe I was dumb and that I wouldn’t achieve anything. This degree means that wasn’t true. I'm already using my degree with our program for inmates, Magdalene on the Inside. My degree helped me redefine my place in the circle as a professional and a graduate. It has shown me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.”

As Magdalene’s Assistant Resident Manager and Coordinator of our prison program, Shelia is a key member of the team. Additionally, she works with juvenile and adult victims of trafficking at End Slavery Tennessee. You can watch a short clip of Shelia speaking to inmates here and learn more about End Slavery Tennessee here. Like Shana, Shelia’s passion is about bringing women off the streets, and giving them a chance at a new life. Shelia and the program team can always use donations of welcome baskets for new residents and gift cards to purchase supplies for residents and inmates. Contact stacye@thistlefarms.org for details or CLICK HERE to learn more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More Happiness In Giving

Written by Thistle Farmer (and Country Music Artist) Sara Evans
originally published on the blog A Real Fine Place



‘Tis the season to be thinking of gifts! So in the truest sense of giving, I decided to collaborate with Thistle Farms this holiday season to provide gifts that keep on giving!
Thistle Farms is a beautiful place (social enterprise) that is run by the women of Magdalene. Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. 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. It was founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens. On a personal note, I have witnessed throughout the years all of the dedication that Becca has given this cause. I met her when I first started writing songs with her husband Marcus Hummon, who is an amazing songwriter! We wrote so many songs together, including Born to Fly, however I think Rocking Horse fits this occasion perfectly.
And it was something magic out of something frightening
That’s how I live my life,
I take it as it comes
And I find the hidden love
They are salt of the earth people and I am happy to share their gifts with you all. Go and give and be Merry!

Holiday Candle
Holiday Bath Salts
Individual Healing Oil
Lip Balm
packaged together in beautiful eco-friendly Love Heals brown bag and ribbon
*note: scents will vary





Thermos & Tea Survival Kit
Thistle Farmer Mug
Becca Stevens’ The Way of Tea & Justice Book
Thistle Star Book Ornament
Gift Certificate to Thistle Stop Cafe *note: must be used at the Thistle Stop Cafe in Nashville, TN
package together in beautifully wrapped basket and ribbon
SPECIAL BONUS: Some of the baskets may even contain a random, hand written, holiday wish from Sara herself!


Merry (early) Christmas, and shop ’til you drop!
Love,
Sara
A Thistle Farmer

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Way of Tea and Justice


Rev. Becca Stevens, Founder of Magdalene, Thistle Farms and the Thistle Stop Cafe, is proud to announce her latest book: The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage from Its Violent History.

Becca started the Thistle Stop Café to empower women survivors. But when she discovered a connection between café workers and tea laborers overseas, she embarked on a global mission called "Shared Trade" to increase the value of women survivors and producers across the globe. 

As she recounts the victories and unexpected challenges of building the café, Becca also sweeps the reader into the world of tea, where timeless rituals transport to an era of beauty and the challenging truths about tea's darker, more violent history. She offers moving reflections of the meaning of tea in our lives, plus recipes for tea blends that readers can make themselves.

Not only is tea the most widely consumed beverage after water in the world, it is the oldest cultivated plant, comes from a single species, and is connected to justice, revolution and religion like no other plant. While tea has helped usher in great economic and spiritual growth in its 3,500 year history, it has been part of the oppression of women. It is tied to the work and mission of Thistle Farms through the stories of sexual violence in the fields of India and the trading of opiates in China. But tea has a noble story too, as its rituals and traditions are great companions for cultivating a contemplative heart. Through our attention to how it is grown and by whom, a tea rooted in justice is a great companion for our spiritual journeys.

In this journey of triumph for impoverished tea laborers, hope for café workers, and insight into the history of tea, Becca sets out to defy the odds and prove that love is the most powerful force for transformation on earth.

You’re invited to a book signing Wednesday, November 5th at 6 p.m. at Thistle Stop Café. Becca will be there to sign copies of her book and, of course, share tea.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Justice Tea Just Tastes Better

Thistle Farmers, ready for something new? We've just launched a new collaborative project, extending economic freedom to women in 5 social enterprises in 4 different countries.

The Tea Survival Kit provides everything you need to fill your cup: four blends of tea, honey sticks, spoon, tea filters and even a thermos! Wrapped in a tote sewn in Kenya, you’ll also be styling your favorite print. Through a new initiative at Thistle Farms called Shared Trade, we’re creating collaborative products like this to spread the message that love heals around the world.


Bringing five social enterprise partners together for one beautiful product is no easy feat. First, we had to source our four blends of tea.  Ajiri Tea is grown and harvested in Western Kenya at the Nyansiongo Tea Factory, a cooperative owned by small-scale farmers. As independent growers, our friends at Ajiri handpick the leaves and ensure the highest quality for our kits. The Moringa Black Health Blend is a blend of moringa, black tea, and lemon grass. The blend features the tea leaves of two Shared Trade partners: Moringa Madres in Mexico and Hope Tea in Uganda.


The third tea in the kit is the Thistle Stop Café Herbal Blend. Made of Milk Thistle, dandelion root and cardamom, this tasty blend of flavors is a natural tonic for liver health. And finally, the Gunpowder Green Tea Blend is made of green tea, orange peel and ginger root, and aids digestion. The gunpowder leaves are closed until they open in the water.


We think you’ll enjoy sweetening up these teas with ten organic honey sticks that have been regionally sourced. The spoon and filters are the last tools you need to enjoy a cup of tea! If you don’t have a cup, the new Love Heals thermos will keep your drink warm and delicious.

Each tea kit ingredient has a special pocket in the satchel that folds up and is easy to carry. In consultation with the Thistle Studios, women at New Visions Sewing Group created each satchel. New Visions is an enterprise of Lwala Community Alliance, a nonprofit initiative to empower women in Kenya through education, healthcare and employment. New Visions also sews the Evening Survival Kit and will be a Shared Trade partner.


Well, each of these pieces arrives separately at Thistle Farms here in Nashville. Thistle Farms then put the pieces together in the satchel. We even blend the Moringa tea in manufacturing! The finishing touch to each Tea Survival Kit is the leather tie sewn on by the team at Thistle Studios.


The Tea Survival Kit is a great companion for your next adventure. The sale of each kit supports women artisans from around the globe. The Tea Survival Kit is now available online. Order and we’ll ship it out to you, or drop by the café to buy your favorite satchel print in person! 

Look for more SharedTrade products coming to you in October!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Home Grown: Best of Nashville


It's that time again! The Nashville Scene has opened its electronic doors to Nashvillians to choose the best of the best things in town. Won't you take a moment to vote for your favorite social enterprises, Thistle Farms and the Thistle Stop Cafe?

Here are our suggested choices -- be sure to CAST YOUR VOTE by September 5th:

Section 1 of 7: Food and Drink
Best Coffeehouse: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Menu: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Patio: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Place For A Business Lunch: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Restaurant: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Restaurant Ambiance: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Service in a Restaurant: Thistle Stop Cafe

Section 2 of 7: Home, Goods and Services
Best Nonprofit: Thistle Farms
Best Place To Buy A Gift: Thistle Farms
Best Place For A Wedding Reception: Thistle Stop Cafe

Section 3 of 7: Music, Arts and Entertainment
Best Charity Event: Thistle Thursdays (at the Thistle Stop Cafe)
Best Concert Series: Thistle Thursdays (at the Thistle Stop Cafe)
Best Local You Would Like To See Make a Cameo On Nashville: The Thistle Stop Cafe!
Best Place To Hear Live Music: Thistle Thursdays (at the Thistle Stop Cafe)

Section 4 of 7: Media and Politics
Best Facebook Page: Thistle Farms
Best Local Twitter Account: Rev. Becca Stevens

Section 5 of 7: Kids
Best Family-Friendly Restaurant: Thistle Stop Cafe

Section 6 of 7: People and Places
Best Community Role Model: Rev. Becca Stevens
Best Place To Take Out-of-Towners: Thistle Stop Cafe
Best Religious Leader: Rev. Becca Stevens


Once you vote, spread the word by sharing this blog post (and this I VOTED sticker!) on your social media outlets. Thanks for your help in naming Thistle Farms and the Thistle Stop Cafe the best of in Nashvile! 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Loving our Community Partners: Interfaith Dental Clinic

Since the earliest days of Magdalene, we have relied on the generosity and love of our Nashville neighbors to help spread our message. Coming off the streets, escaping prostitution and homelessness, our women have many needs. From medical and psychiatric to legal and financial, these needs are met by an integral support system of community partners committed to the wellness of our residents and graduates. Ever thankful for the aid they give us, we want to highlight the role of our amazing community partners in proving that love heals.

Interfaith Dental Clinic, one of our most valued partners, helps us to fulfill the women’s need for oral healthcare. You might not think of dental hygiene when envisioning the recovery process, but Executive Director, Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi and her staff, believe it is an essential part of the journey. With the motto: “A smile changes everything,” Interfaith Dental hopes to bring superior oral healthcare to the working poor and income-insecure seniors of Middle Tennessee.

We recently popped in to visit our friends at Interfaith Dental and they were very kind to give us a full tour. Pictured from left to right - Deb Markland, Thistle Farms, Education & Outreach; Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi, Exec. Director of Interfaith Dental Clinic; Ashlyn King & Laura Herrod, Thistle Farms interns; Keri Seay, Magdalene's Assistant Program Director and pictured on the far right, one of Interfaith's beloved volunteer dentists.

In 1994, Dr. Tom Underwood, with the help of the Nashville Dental Society and the Outreach Commission of West End United Methodist Church, set out to bring their ministry to the people of Middle Tennessee. They began in a church basement and worked their way to a beautiful clinic on Patterson Street with state-of-the-art equipment.

Dr. Switzer-Nadasdi was called to work for this mission by Dr. Underwood’s own example. “His passion for the cause, and the obstacles he faced starting it but succeeded anyway, made me believe I could make an impact.” She states that her favorite part of the job is witnessing the private moment of a patient smiling at themselves in the mirror on their way out when they think no one is watching.

Speaking of their partnership with Magdalene, Dr. Switzer-Nadasdi claims, “physical healing is a big part of the women’s journey. Sound oral health can be a major step towards overall improved health. In their psychological journey, their mouths often reveal a past of struggle they are trying to put behind them. Through our partnership we can give a new healthy smile that shines with promise and wholeness.”

Magdalene and Interfaith Dental Clinic are working together to spread a message of love, healing and peace. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Peace begins with a smile.”



Story by Ashlyn King
Thistle Farms Intern