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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

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Jeff Tilley

Oyster Boss

Jeff Tilley, born in 1958, was raised in Owensboro, Kentucky. After graduating from the University of Louisville, he got a job in the building systems industry in Pensacola, Florida. When that business closed, he began his own business installing commercial fire alarms. He traveled to many different parts of the Florida Panhandle for work. Tilley was charmed by rural Wakulla County. In 1999, he and his family moved to Sopchoppy, Florida.

Tilley’s son, Reid, grew up outdoors hunting and fishing. As he grew up, Reid’s interest in the outdoors informed his career decisions. After he learned about the Wakulla Environmental Institute, Reid decided to farm oysters. In 2015, he graduated from the program. In 2016, Reid and Jeff Tilley began Oyster Boss, an oyster aquaculture business. Reid and his crew farm oysters on their lease in Alligator Harbor. Jeff markets and sells the oysters his son grows to restaurants throughout Florida and at their retail facility in Sopchoppy, Florida.

Date of interview:

Annemarie Anderson

Annemarie Anderson

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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.


Alex Raij Txikito

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