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Group seeks to plant seeds of healing for women escaping sex trafficking
Nonprofit's planned Sacred Roots Farm to help provide 'a place for holistic healing'
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Sacred Roots Farm

What: nonprofit to provide a place of holistic healing for women escaping the sex trafficking industry

Where: office at 337 Boulevard, Gainesville

Contact: call 770-823-3884 or email sam@sacredrootsfarm.org

More info: www.sacredrootsfarm.org

For women escaping the sex trafficking industry, opportunities to start over new are slim, and places they can go to heal fully are even fewer.

Such is the mission of Sacred Roots Farm, which aims to be “a place of holistic healing” for women escaping the sex trafficking industry.

Sacred Roots Farm was recently formed as a nonprofit in Gainesville by the Haupt family. The nonprofit’s eventual aim is to build a residential farm for those women and their children.

Founder Sam Haupt worked for Mission to the World, the mission agency for the Presbyterian Church of America, for about 15 years and developed a passion for helping those in need of mercy.

“In that position I traveled a bit and ended up involved in a lot of mercy ministries, so ministries with kids and people who are exploited, didn’t have opportunities for education, things like that,” he said.

Haupt worked with other missionaries, including Opal Hardgrove, who now serves on the board of Sacred Roots Farm.

“We started understanding more of the plight of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and how women are being turned into commodities in lots of places of the world,” he said. “We first evaluated what’s being done already and who is doing what. There’s a lot of organizations that are already getting the word out and helping spread awareness.”

Haupt and Hardgrove began researching the issue and learned Atlanta is a known hub of trafficking and sex exploitation in the U.S.

“For us, there was this urgency of, ‘Here’s this real injustice. What do you do about it?’” Haupt said.

He credited several existing organizations, including Not for Sale, Out of the Darkness, Polaris Project, Shared Hope and Well Spring, for their work globally.

But Haupt said they realized “a big hole” in the services available for these women.

“If you’re a woman and you’ve been trafficked since you were 12 years old, you’ve been effectively traumatized at a very formative time in your life,” he said. “The next thing you know, you’re 19 and police bust where you are, and now you’re in a legal system that’s trying to figure out if you are a criminal or a victim.”

Haupt said there are short-term rescue homes for these women, but there’s “a shortage of places to go heal.”

That’s the problem they set out to fix with Sacred Roots Farm. The organization formed officially last year, receiving its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in May. It’s partnered with the SA Foundation in Vancouver, Canada, which is focused on long-term recovery.

“The truth is none of us heal as fast as we’d like to think, particularly with a significant trauma,” Haupt said. “Sometimes it takes time, opportunity and space. We want to be able to provide that.”

Hardgrove said the farm would particularly be open to women who are pregnant or have children.

“Even if you can find a facility to care for these women already, most of them have children and most of the facilities won’t take them,” she said. “They will only help the women, and the children wind up in foster care.”

Sacred Roots Farm is in a fundraising launch and is trying to raise support for operational costs. Haupt said they have “some land prospects.” More information can be found at www.sacredrootsfarm.org.

The goal for the farm would be to provide a variety of “holistic” healing opportunities for these women and to help them discover new passions.

“We believe a sustainable farm could serve as a beneficial context of healing,” Haupt said. “There’s something about being around animals and flowers and plants that sort of strokes the soul in a way.”

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