The idea for Ancestors in the Garden was conceived by DeWayne Barton, co-founder of Hood Huggers International — an organization that raises awareness about the needs of Asheville’s black residents — and the Burton Street Peace Garden. Barton grew up in the historically African-American Burton Street neighborhood of West Asheville. In 2003, to combat the drugs, violence and social apathy he encountered in his neighborhood, he created the Peace Garden as a gathering place for the community and, with time and effort, was able to turn an overgrown lot into a thriving recycled-art sculpture garden and food-growing space.
On Saturday, June 3, Hood Huggers will celebrate a new partnership with Voices United (a youth theater program that teaches young people to write, produce and perform in their own musicals) and Asheville Creative Arts (a local children’s theater company) by producing Ancestors in the Garden, a music and art event at the Peace Garden. Barton says that the focus on ancestry is about “looking to the past to help inspire and guide our direction in the future.” There will be theater workshops throughout the day, and local musical acts Spaceman Jones, Natural Born Leaders, Monk and Jonathan Santos will perform.