The West Asheville community of Burton Street has deep roots. Neighbors have been fighting to preserve the neighborhood and community against development—including the fastest gentrification rates in the United States and the expansion of Interstate 26—for decades.
In 2003, the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens were started as a peaceful response to the difficulties faced in the neighborhood and the world. The volunteer-run garden has been growing food and community ever since.
Beginning as an overgrown lot filled with discarded bottles, the gardens now encompass two flower and vegetable garden growing areas, a performance stage, a fire pit, a pizza oven, a greenhouse, a pavilion, and a plethora of art and sculptures, many of which were done by the garden co-founder DeWayne Barton, community activist and artist who is also the Founder of Hood Huggers International.
The gardens are a museum; a beautiful complex of found object art, paintings, and sculpture. Key figures in black history look out from paintings and glance around corners.
Community is an integral part of the Burton Street Peace gardens. Volunteers grow more seed starts in the greenhouse than they can use, with the purpose of giving them out to neighbors for their gardens. Also, during peak season, fresh produce is bagged and distributed to the elders of the neighborhood. A full array of plants fill the gardens with the purpose of nourishing local pollinators like bees and butterflies.