Haylene Green the Garden Queen is an Atlanta transplant who has cultivated an urban food forest in Atlanta’s West End. Her story is magical.
Green hails from Jamaica, and she moved to Atlanta after seeing how treed our city is on a visit with family. Atlanta may be a car-centric city, but we love our trees here. Big old oaks, maples, dogwoods, and magnolias line streets in our historic neighborhoods. We even have a local group – Trees Atlanta – that’s dedicated to growing and enhancing our city’s greenscape.
When she put down roots in Atlanta’s West End, she was disappointed to discover that most of the trees that cover Atlanta don’t bear fruit. She told Sara Wood at Gravy Magazine:
“My goodness, I did not know you could have so many trees without them bearing a fruit or a nut or something,” because in Jamaica just about every tree that we grow is edible in some way or the other, whether it’s the leaf, the fruit, the nut, whatever—they’re edible.
Rather than give up, the Garden Queen transformed her property into a tropical wonderland packed with fruit trees and edible plants. The West End Community Urban Garden Nursery is a thriving patch of biodiversity in the middle of a food desert. Check out this video tour of her garden from Southern Foodways Alliance:
She grows her beautiful garden without chemical pesticides. She says that sometimes she has problems with pests, but “All they did was eat some before I got to it, so, you know, I have to eat the rest.” Don’t you love that attitude? Plant enough food and enough variety that you can share with the garden pests rather than spray poison to kill them off.
The Garden Queen is known for her Tropical Pumpkin Soup and for growing unusual fruits and veggies that you can’t usually find here in town.
Alabama Chanin shared a beautiful interview with The Garden Queen on her blog. I encourage you to head over there and check it out!
Images: screenshots from video