Thistle Farms, Inc.
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5122 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37209
Organization Details



Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise, based in Nashville, TN, dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. We provide a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support because we believe love is the most powerful force in the world.


Women come to Thistle Farms after experiencing a continuous cycle of abuse, unemployment, poverty, and imprisonment due to past trauma, criminal histories, and addictions. Often this cycle is rooted in severe childhood abuse, traumatic loss and/or neglect. A majority of Thistle Farms residents experienced sexual abuse beginning between ages 7 and 11, and alcohol and drug usage by age 13. These early experiences gave way to homelessness, addiction, prostitution, trafficking, further abuse, and incarceration. Over 90% of residents have gone through short-term treatment programs only to relapse, return to the street, and be jailed again. At Thistle Farms we do not ask what you did, we ask what happened to you. It has taken broken systems for women to end up on the street, so we believe it will take loving communities to bring them into recovery. We seek to offer unconditional love without judgment and to end a culture that allows human beings to be bought and sold.


This year Thistle Farms Residential Program has housed 29 women and served 8 women inside prison walls. We are expecting our largest cohort of graduates this year with 9. Each woman will be able to move into her own apartment employed, sober, and able to live independently. Follow-up reports on women up to 12 to 24 months after graduation found that 88.5% are still sober, employed and successfully living on their own. Thistle Farms Social Enterprises sold over $3.8 million in revenue in FY19, an increase over the previous fiscal year. Women survivors employed by Thistle Farms earned more than $1.3m in income. Thistle Farms Global partnered with and supported 28 organizations in 20 countries. Sales of global products through Thistle Farms' channels contribute to the fair wages of 4,005 women around the world. The Cafe at Thistle Farms welcomed more than 70,000 guests through its doors last year. The Thistle National Network hosted over 300 guests for quarterly workshops designed to help leaders replicate our housing-first model in their own community. We currently provide support to 43 sister organizations that provide over 300 beds across the country dedicated to supporting women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. 22 more houses are under development. We continue to work toward goals that include: 75% of women completing phase one of Thistle Farms Residential will successfully graduate 20 months later clean, employed, reconnected with family, and ready to live independently. Thistle Farms has started it's internal workforce development program called Ready Set Succeed and the first group of 9 women are weeks from completion. We have kicked off the second phase of our growth campaign that will increase the number of beds and services for survivors in Nashville. We are growing the National Network. Growing an aligned global network of survivor groups engaging in social enterprises designed to increase dignity and economic freedom for women survivors of sexual assault and trafficking. Employees will feel valued and understand how their role positively contributes to our mission. Volunteers will have opportunities for meaningful engagement when we are able to provide those again.


Local Collaboration: Up to 20% of Thistle Farms' operating budget reimburses local partners who provide holistic care to residents at a reduced price. These partnerships are an integral part of Thistle Farms' promise to meet residents' needs at no cost to the women. Strong partnerships with local employers are vital to sustaining residents' and graduates' success. These employers offer women a sustainable means of employment, despite criminal records and mental health issues that are typically barriers to employment.Affordable Housing: Thistle Farms is committed to helping every graduate access safe and affordable housing upon completion of our two-year Residential program. Metro estimates that 3,800 new affordable housing units will need to be built each year to meet the needs of Nashville's growing population. With Thistle Farms' graduates competing against Nashville's burgeoning population for these affordable units, we do not expect housing to be fully attainable without cooperation from willing property owners and developers.

CEO Statement

The Thistle Farms community makes every effort to be a witness to the truth that love is the most powerful force for change in the world. That truth has been revealed to us in countless ways over the past two decades as we have watched and been part of the healing that occurs daily. We are grateful for this witness and for the opportunity we have had to grow one of the nations most dynamic social enterprises as well as help more than 40 other communities replicate this model. Thistle Farms was founded not just to help a sub-culture of women, but to help change the culture itself. We stand in solidarity with women who are recovering from sexual abuse, violence, and life on the streets, and who have paid dearly for a culture that buys and sells women like commodities. Our statistical success has occurred because we provide a long-term, disciplined, and compassionate community, where very isolated women have the opportunity to heal from deep wounds that date back to childhood.

Board Chair Statement

From our former Board Chair- John Weisenseel. It has been an honor and privilege to be associated with Thistle Farms for the past 4 years as a volunteer, supporter, Board member, and now Board Chair. For the past 25 years, Thistle Farms has lit a pathway of healing and hope for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. We provide housing, case management, healthcare, counseling, education, and employment for two years free of charge. This is our mission! We are a complex social enterprise that manufactures, sells, and distributes body & home products, in addition to running a cafe and catering business. This social enterprise exists solely to support our mission in that it provides jobs for our women residents and graduates and assists in funding our mission-driven initiatives. Substantial donor funding is also required for Thistle Farms to successfully fulfill its mission.

We have been excellent stewards of funding raised and have deployed efficiently to achieve amazing results! For example, our residential program currently provides 32 beds plus 4 safe house beds. It has provided over 10,000 nights of safe housing and over 3,000 medical and counseling appointments. Our social enterprise has provided over 127,000 hours of employment, and services to over 127,000 customers in over 640 wholesale locations. The cafe has become a way to welcome donors, volunteers, and supporters who are making their way to Thistle Farms from far and near, and to extend the reach of our social enterprise. It has served over 32,000 guests in the last year by using an employee base of which 84% are in recovery. Our national network includes 92 sister organizations located throughout the United States which provide over 560 beds for women survivors. In addition, in 2014, we started our global trade program to address sexual exploitation, trafficking, and extreme poverty on a global scale. This program has since grown to include 1,400 survivor artisans from 21 different countries and provides a network for them to sell their products. Finally, we provide public policy initiatives and legislative advocacy around trafficking and prostitution issues at both the state and federal levels.

Since its founding 25 years ago and its growth, Thistle Farms has always remained true to its mission and its motto, "Love Heals". Every volunteer, supporter, employee, women survivor, and Board member is extremely proud of this fact and the mission is core to all we do. With the recent hire of our new CEO, Tasha Kennard, we are well-positioned to continue to achieve and scale our mission for years to come.

Service Categories

Primary Category: Human Services  - Homeless Services/Centers 
Secondary Category: Mental Health & Crisis Intervention  - Substance Abuse Dependency, Prevention & Treatment 
Tertiary Category: Employment  - Sheltered Employment 

Areas Served

Although the majority of residents are from Middle Tennessee, Thistle Farms regularly get calls from across the United States about admittance to our Residential Program. Thistle Farms presence on a national level is bolstered by the Thistle National Network, fostering relationships with and supporting sister organizations across the country. Globally, Thistle Farms Global supports the employment of women in 21 different countries.

TN - Davidson