Best Community Garden in a Place That Sorely Needs One - 2009
Phoenix Community Garden
2037 Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11233
You bike for what feels like miles without seeing a single tree. You pass identical city blocks that contain only boarded-up storefronts, tiny churches, and hair salons. You see a man place a chaise longue on the sidewalk of traffic-clogged Atlantic Avenue, as if there weren't any pleasanter place to catch some sun. And then you arrive at the Phoenix Community Garden, a little oasis of green in Ocean Hill/Brownsville, Brooklyn, a neighborhood that sorely needs one. Just three years ago, the Phoenix Garden was an abandoned lot sealed off by fences and choked with trash. In 2006, the city's Department for Housing, Preservation & Development, which had control over the 19,000-square-foot wedge of land on busy Fulton Street, offered it to the nonprofit gardening organization Green Guerillas. Soon, about 40 new gardeners who didn't know each other before began to transform the space and make friends with their neighbors. On any Saturday afternoon during summer or spring, the garden is full of people, pulling weeds and chatting the afternoon away. It's a lovely sight. Describing what it's like to cook food you've grown yourself for the first time, Anne Serrano, a woman who works in the soup kitchen across the street, says, "I can't explain it. It's amazing."