#SFAOH Atlanta Field Notes: Global Growers

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SFAOH participant Alexis Meza, Global Growers director Robin Chanin, Global Growers farmer Halieth Hatungimana, SFAOH participant Jillian Woodruff. Photograph by SFAOH participant Jenna Mobley.

In our SFA oral history workshop application, we asked potential participants to propose an oral history project they would conduct during their week in Atlanta, with the option to re-visit a previous SFA project.

In 2013 I conducted oral histories of women farming in Georgia. Susan Pavlin, then the director of Global Growers, sat down with me in her home for an interview. She talked about how the organization uses farming to help displaced people from other parts of the world find a new sense of home and how these farmers introduce new produce and cultures to Georgia.

I’d hoped to interview one of the farmers, Halieth Hatungimana, who had fled to Atlanta from Burundi, a country in Central Africa bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania, but Ms. Hatungimana declined. My heart broke a little, but I understood and made a silent wish that time might change her mind.

Three years later, three of our SFA oral history workshop participants Alexis Meza, Jenna Mobley, and Jillian Woodruff, sat down with Halieth in her home along with Robin Chanin who is Global Growers current director. Susan Pavlin is now director of The Common Market Georgia.

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Halieth Hatungimana. Photography by Jenna Mobley.

Halieth speaks English, but her first language is Kirundi, one of the Bantu languages spoken in Central Africa. With the help of Robin, she shared stories of her farming life in Georgia. Below are two excerpts from the full interview.

Listen to Robin explain how in Burundi, green beans mean something entirely different than the American South.

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A photograph from the day Halieth Hatungimana arrived in the United States. Photo by Jenna Mobley.

It also turns out that in Burundi Halieth was a known as a very skilled brewmaster.