Join me for a new adventure for Leni at Indigo House!
I’ve been sharing the philosophy of Indigo House with students, friends and dinner guests since 2012. This journey has been a continuation of a professional career of 30 years as an historian of African American History and food history. I started to cook regularly at age nine and over the years cooked many, many, many a meal. I’ve been a hearth cook, a caterer, a South Dakota farmer, a mother of four (two born at home) and at one point in my long life a singer and actor. But cooking/food/gardens have always been the centerpiece. In one way or another I’ve been at this food thing for over 60 years! Where the hell did the time go?
One day I’m cleaning a hen house and the next I’m all dressed up at a podium giving a lecture on food ways of the enslaved in antebellum Virginia at a university library. Through Open Doors, Albemarle County’s Adult Learning, I teach a class each year on Raising Chickens for Eggs, PowerPoint slides and all! Then for those interested in chickens as meat I teach raising, butchering and processing chickens for the pantry. And I cook all the time, every day.
I want to capture these teaching moments and share them with my subscribers.
Indigo House is my 5.1-acre farmstead home in the Blue Ridge Mountains just west of Charlottesville, Virginia. The house itself was built by my late husband on the footprint of our house that burned down in 2000. The long construction was a labor of love and Kip left his career as a Master Carpenter to do every step himself; from digging the footings to all the final interior cabinetry and the soapstone counters. I am so fortunate to have this lovingly built space to teach and cook and welcome guests to History Dinners , classes and workshops. Now with the aid of our oldest son my goal is to create ways of sharing me doing what I do; cook, talk, laugh, and teach in my beautiful kitchen. Oh, and doing barn chores, working in the garden and even firing up the wood bread oven built into the hillside under the oak tree.
Experts recommend keeping a two-week supply of food on hand at all times. My gut feeling and my experience suggests that most Americans do not have this backup.* This lack is then compounded by research that shows “U.S. households are wasting nearly one-third of the food that they buy. As well as costing the economy $240 billion each year, this waste is hitting individual households with a $1,866 annual cost.” This combination of dreary kitchen realities makes me very sad! Support of Indigo House makes it possible for me to address these kinds of issues through my philosophy of Home Provisioning; to help folks understand their own food needs and how to plan for them whether they live in an apartment, a suburban lot with a tiny garden, or have enough land to grow some of their own food.
I’ve been ‘making’ and ‘making do’ all my life and over the years I’ve gotten damned good at it. Lessons I learned on the farm have stood me in good stead even when living in a tiny Detroit apartment (I was a research historian for the Charles Wright African American Museum of History and Culture for 18 months when they were building a new museum space). Having fed four children born so far apart from each other across the years (1960, 1969, 1978, 1980!) I feel as if I have had three families, I really have experience of what it’s like to make sure good food hits the table every day. And speaking of every day – I have lots to share on how to make sure there is a steady supply of good food in the pantry waiting to be cooked.
Your support will allow me to take on interns, especially young people, who want to learn and practice farmcraft. For example my high-school age intern, who based her Senior paper on Hearth Cookery, made flat bread in my wood bread oven out under the oak tree. Ongoing support allows me to plan for infrastructure projects like expanding the hen house as well as buying tools and supplies and all the attendant costs that are not covered by class fees.
This wonderful age of digital access opens a world of ways to share what I do with folks who may never get to my house but who I can meet online from my kitchen. What I love about this medium is I get to talk directly to my students; to describe what and why I’m doing a thing this way or that; to explore the history and cultural context of so much of what is wonderful about food. So for example, the current Project Bucket List is for kitchen class online streaming tools.
Along with serving as validation that what I do and know is worthy of being shared, subscriptions are that extra financial boost that will allow me to make the investments needed to stay on my farm and continue teaching as I get ever older!
Your contributions are welcome and all suggestions appreciated.
Annual subscriptions give the best bang for the buck while keeping the levels affordable. At $35 a year; $60 a year, $100 a year; each supporter will make a tremendous difference to my work.
Friend level is $35 a year – yours is the bedrock of my support. You will have access to selected videos of my classes and the monthly email recipe newsletter.
Student level is $60 a year – ongoing projects will be possible because of your support at this level. All my videos will be available and Q&A online sessions several times a year plus the monthly email recipe newsletter.
Patron level is $100 a year – On any farmstead there needs to be a Special Projects Bucket and that’s what the Patron supporter helps to maintain. Along with the videos and the online sessions you will get discounts on Indigo House books and merchandise.
At each level, contributors will receive heartfelt thank-you gifts and public recognition as supporters.
Thank you for supporting me in this project and our future.