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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. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Haylene Green

West End Community Urban Garden Nursery

For as long as she can remember, Haylene Green has been planting in the soil. Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, she’s a descendent of the Maroon culture and has strong familial ties to farming. Both her father and grandfather farmed commercially. She grew up next to the Caribbean Sea, where tropical fruits and vegetables grew wild and plentiful. When her family moved to New York, she grew food from potted plants. Upon visiting Atlanta for a family reunion, Haylene fell in love with all of the local trees and relocated to the South, hoping to plant fruit-bearing trees of her own. Over the years, she has worked as a nurse and run a printing press in both Jamaica and Atlanta.

While working in real estate, she started a nursery near Athens. She is famous around local farmers’ markets for growing fruits and vegetables native to the Caribbean in Atlanta’s soil. Her tropical pumpkins and hibiscus sorrel earned her names of “Haylene Garden Queen” and “The Hibiscus Sorrel Lady.” When her sister started a community business in the West End of Atlanta, Haylene began cultivating an acre of the land. She’s helping to teach the community about farming and growing to provide easier access to fresh (and tropical) produce.

Date of interview:

Sara Wood

Lizzy Johnston

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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