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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Celia Barss


Woodland Gardens Organic Farm

Celia Barss was born in Newfoundland, Canada. Her parents worked all over the world, so the family rarely stayed in one place. Though she did not grow up farming, Celia developed an interest in food systems. She was drawn to working with her hands outdoors. After studying soil science at McGill University, she went from the lab to the field, moving to California to study sustainable agriculture at UC Santa Cruz. She developed an interest in cultivating small, diverse farmland. After moving to Pennsylvania to help start Penny Pack Farm just north of Philadelphia, she found her way to Athens, Georgia looking for any kind of farming opportunity she could find. While working at Flat Rock Farm, an ideal opportunity presented itself to Celia: Thomas Woodruff and Dock Epstein owned 70 acres of farmland in Winterville and had no intention of farming. They were looking for a farmer to take care of the land. For the past decade, Celia has farmed fruits, vegetables and flowers on 10 acres of the property. With the help of her husband and eight employees, the farm sells to several restaurants in Atlanta, Decatur, and Athens. Woodland Gardens is also one of a small number of farms selling at the year-round Morningside Farmers’ Market in Atlanta, where there is usually a long, civil line for Celia’s produce.

Date of interview:
2013-08-01

Interviewer:
Sara Wood

Photographer:
Sara Wood

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