Peace Mob Gardens is bringing hope and sustainability back to Flint, Michigan. To prove it, they're even shaping their fruit trees into peace signs.
From the ashes that covered Flint, Michigan, the former Vehicle City, an urban garden is in bloom, growing over 40 variations of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Peace Mob Gardens set loose its first seedlings in Flint in 2010. Today, it covers two city lots—a communal farm growing free produce for residents and providing lodging in a housing commune.
Peace Mob Garden occupied an abandoned city lot and nursed it back to health. In addition to making seed bombs, watering the land, and harvesting crops, the group also worked on block redevelopment in attempt to save the crime-ridden city from further abandonment. They cleaned up vacant lots, boarded up crumbling buildings, and revitalized the area with murals, art, and neighborhood tours delineating the effect economic collapse has had on the city.
"Part of our group’s philosophy is that we all must autonomously act to create a more peaceful world around us," says Phillip Jacks, lead coordinator and head planner at Peace Mob Gardens. "We feel that there is no longer time to sit and wait for the worlds problems to work themselves out, that we must act now to create a more positive, peaceful world."
Peace Mob’s goal is to create a sustainable community with its own culture, music and environmentalism. Under Jacks’ guidance, the garden is branching out into a new urban lot. Using grant money from GOOD Maker’s Innovate Earth Day challenge, Peace Mob plans to plant a Peace Orchard complete with a living grape vine fence and a few dozen fruit trees. The catch: the trees themselves will be trained to take on the form of a peace sign. By the end of summer, Jacks projects that the starters for the living fence and frames for training the trees will be ready. Over the next 20 years, Jacks hopes to have over 100 “peace trees” in the orchard.
The ultimate goal is to keep the symbol of peace visible in a city that's picking itself up. "Most residents not only have no hope, but firmly believe that there is no way to save this neighborhood," says Jacks. "In the few short years we have been operating our garden, we have changed the hearts of many residents and re-invigorated their hope."