Asheville resident DeWayne Barton started the Burton Street Peace garden in 2003 as a peaceful response to the war on drugs and the war in Iraq.
“When we were trying to clean up the neighborhood, we picked up a lot of garbage. After that we wanted to create a green space in the neighborhood,” explains Barton. “We thought it could be a place to help absorb trauma. We said, ‘Let’s share food and art and throw parties and create a green space where people can come outside and talk to their neighbors again.’”
What began as a weed-filled lot littered with garbage has grown into a community space packed with art and gardens that feed people in the neighborhood and beyond. “We do a little bit of everything here. We grow all types of flowers and vegetables that we pass out to elders and the churches.” They also have a fire pit, stage area, cob pizza oven, a greenhouse and pavilion. And because the garden is focused on both community and environment, most of the materials in the garden were found in the neighborhood and reused.
Today, the Burton Street Peace Garden is maintained by Barton, his wife, the young people in the neighborhood and volunteers. “It has been a community experiment of people coming together,” says Barton. “Not only people in the neighborhood but people from the outside that want to support the work and see it grow.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.