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December, 2016
Fugitive Waves Episode #61 – Rattlesden

Fugitive Waves Episode #61 – Rattlesden

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For five years Davia’s father, Lenny Nelson, asked her to go to Rattlesden, England, to visit the Air Force base where he was stationed during WWII and to find an old photograph hanging in the town pub honoring his 8th Air Force squadron. It was still there, over 50 years later, he told her. Finally, one fine Sunday, Davia headed out in search of the pub and a piece of her father’s past—the piece he was proudest of.

Lenny died on Christmas Eve last year. In his honor, we share the journey with you.

Samuel Shelton Robinson helped produce this story with The Kitchen Sisters. He’s from London. It seemed only right.

Black Cake: Emily Dickinson’s Hidden Kitchen on NPR’s Morning Edition

Black Cake: Emily Dickinson’s Hidden Kitchen on NPR’s Morning Edition

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A journey into the hidden world of Emily Dickinson — through her kitchen.

Special thanks to: Emilie Hardman, Emily Walhout and Heather Cole from the Houghton Library, Harvard University; Brenda Hillman, poet and Professor of Creative Writing at St. Mary’s College; Jean McClure Mudge writer and filmmaker; Christopher Benfey, writer and Professor of English, Mount Holyoke College; Elaine Hardman who led us to this story; and Zoe Kurland. The readings heard are by: Julie Harris, Mary Jo Salter, and Patti Smith.

Black Cake: Emily Dickinson’s Hidden Kitchen was produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) in collaboration with Brandi Howell & Nathan Dalton. Mixed by Jim McKee.


Here’s Emily’s Recipe for Black Cake. We dare you to make it. Serves your entire community.

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Thank you for Supporting the Stories

Fugitive Waves Episode #60 – Milk Cow Blues

Fugitive Waves Episode #60 – Milk Cow Blues

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A journey into the mysterious and controversial world of raw milk.

Tucked away in the vanishing farm land on the outskirts of Indianapolis, the Apple Family and their neighbors created a kind of fellowship of milking. Milk Cow Blues tells the story of the Apples’ effort to bring raw milk to their community.

Jo Apple and her husband owned the Apple Family Farm in McCordsville Indiana for over 50 years. It was originally a dairy farm, but it became too much for the couple. It wasn’t financially feasible so they gave up the cows and planted corn and soy beans. Their son, Mark told to his father about a vision he had — farming naturally, without chemicals, hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. Just before he died, Mark’s dad agreed.

They started with sheep and chickens and cattle then bought a milk cow for themselves. They quickly found that there was a demand for unpasteurized milk. Women started showing up at their farm with glass jars to buy milk. The Apples had no idea it was illegal. But Indiana, like most states has very strict rules about buying and selling raw milk.

The Indiana State Veterinarian became aware that the Apple family was selling raw milk. He felt there was the possibility of harmful pathogens in these raw milk products and with pressure from other farmers in the area the Apples were served a cease and desist order.

The Apples were ready to give up. But their community encouraged them — they were selling milk, not cocaine or crack. The Apples checked the laws.

They could not trade raw milk, sell it, or deliver it. The only way people could legally obtain fresh milk in Indiana was to own a cow. So they decided, if people want raw milk they will have to buy the cow. The Apples set up the Indiana Cow Share Association and charged people $50. It worked.

A year-and-a-half after the cease and desist order there was a knock on the Apples’ door. A man they had never met before said that he was the one that had turned them in. He talked about how he was furious that they were selling milk for three times more than he was getting for his milk.

He couldn’t make it farming anymore and as a last resort had come to talk to them. His son was bagging groceries — but his heart was to farm. The man wanted to know if they thought he could do the same thing with pasteurized milk — sell directly to the public. He needed to make a change.

It’s a story that is happening all over the country, “All the farmers that are throwing in the towel saying, ‘OK, I can’t afford a $60,000 combine. I have to do something else. Maybe I’ll get some cattle and see if I can just sell them to my neighbors. That’s how it starts.”

Since we produced this Hidden Kitchens story The Apple Family Farm has closed down. In 2014 the Fortville Town Council tried to annex their farmland for development. It was a long, grueling fight. That combined with tax increases and the rising cost of farming became too much for this third generation family farm.

So Many Stories in Store

So Many Stories in Store

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In 2017 we all move into unknown territory. It’s times like these that call for strong stories. Bruce Springsteen said it best, “People need stories in hard times. People go to storytellers when times are like that.” People go to storytellers when it’s hard to decipher the world, when they need to feel hope and possibilities, when they just want a good tale. Here at The Kitchen Sisters we are getting ready to tell some of the deepest stories we’ve done yet. Stories that keep the spirit moving and light the path. Stories that reveal new ideas and new community leaders.

Today we ask for your support, and for your ongoing collaboration. It is our community that makes these stories possible. Our stories, our internship and mentoring program, and our many community visions. To those of you who have supported and collaborated with us over the years, thank you. To those of you who have recently discovered us, welcome to The Kitchen Sisterhood.

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In 2016 your contribution helped spawn so much new work. Our series, Hidden Kitchens: War and Peace and Food aired to much acclaim on NPR’s Morning Edition. Some 14 million people around the world heard these stories of the transformative power of food. There are more in store in 2017.

2017 also has many other projects in store — our new series about archivists as activists — about librarians and historical society curators who are keepers of the history and embroiled in battles and deeply committed to preservation, a free press and the truth. We’re also deep in the weeds on our second book, Show the Girls the Snakes, and working still on our Broadway musical and more. And we are gearing up for a new year of interns, mentoring and workshops.

We have also been asked to create an installation for Prospect.4,the International New Orleans Triennial (sort of the Venice Biennale of New Orleans that was created in the wake of Katrina to help revive the city through culture) where we’ll be collaborating with the Houston-based art collective, Otabenga Jones and Associates. Prospect.4 opens at the end of 2017 and goes for three months. Perhaps we’ll see you there.

Deep thanks for your support, your ideas, your music, your stories, all the things you share with us.

Keep the faith,
Davia & Nikki

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