Started by Safi Mahaba and DeWayne Barton in 2003 as a peaceful response to the war in Iraq and the war on drugs in the States, Peace Gardens & Market is a labor of love in the heart of the Burton Street Community in Asheville, NC. From its humble beginnings as an overgrown lot filled with discarded 40-ounce bottles, the Gardens are home to vegetable and flower gardening sites, performative stage area, fire pit, cob pizza oven, greenhouse, fresh produce market, and pavilion. Creating, maintaining, and connecting green spaces helps to absorb trauma in our community, and we welcome everyone to the Gardens.
We host garden workdays each Saturday from 10am-12pm where any and all are welcome to join us in pulling weeds, staking tomatoes, turning compost, harvesting veggies, mulching paths, and any number of other garden tasks.
Each week, during harvest season, we gather and weigh all of the produce coming out of the gardens. We then distribute garden care packages to neighborhood elders and use the rest to share with volunteers, make value-added products (like jams, jellies, pickles, salsas, relishes, and sauces), and for our weekly farmstand. As part of our ongoing work, we pay neighborhood youth a stipend to work in the gardens and assist with community beautification.
Peace Gardens & Market is also an art-filled space with murals, sculptures, and installations, many of which are created with found trash in the neighborhood. Through art, we represent stories and educate visitors about poverty, racial inequity, police abuse of power, gentrification, health and education access, and African American resiliency as it exists within the Burton Street Community and beyond. A single action can make a positive difference in our community but through collective action we can transform the world.
The gardens are open to the public year-round from dawn ‘til dusk each day. We welcome visitors, but ask that you stick to the Garden Guidelines (found onsite). Stop by for a visit, learning, cultivating, and communing!
Learn more about the founding organization, Hood Huggers International, and our community initiatives at hoodhuggers.com