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The Garden of Gethsemane in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn. Series: God in NYC Gardens

In the days when police wore T-shirts in Brooklyn that said “The Killing Fields” to signify that the borough had the highest-proof cocktail of violence and mayhem in the nation, Phillip Foster started “The Garden of Gethsemane.”

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Phillip Foster grows vegetables, fruit, grapes and holds Bible studies for the poor, the elderly and the shut-ins.

In the days when police wore T-shirts in Brooklyn that said "The Killing Fields" to signify that the borough had the highest-proof cocktail of violence and mayhem in the nation, Phillip Foster started "The Garden of Gethsemane" in the middle of a burnt-out district in Ocean Hill-Brownsville. Two blocks away, Mike Tyson spent his troubled childhood years. The gardener saw a lot of troubled kids hanging around lots filled with rubble and criminal rabble.

When Foster came from the Central American country of Guyana over 30 years ago, he saw the tragedies of city life parading along his block. Yet, even while the fires were burning and murders happened every day in his street , he believed that God could give a Garden of Eden. In his lilting accent he says, “You know we can’t go back to Eden, but Christ gave us a new garden." The symbol of the ancient Biblical garden has inspired many city dwellers to do green gardening to help the down-trodden.

The garden encompasses its entire lot and has a grape arbor in another yard. At the entrance, a sign proclaims: "God's riches at Christ's expense."

Foster provides widows, shut-ins, and poverty-stricken neighbors with free long green beans (grown with special seeds from Guyana), three types of eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, yellow and red tomatoes, grapes, and other vegetables. The Brooklyn borough president has declared Foster "a precious resource of Brooklyn and its best green gardener."

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Also read about The Biblical Gardens of NYC and The Medieval Gardens of NYC, Central Park: the largest religious art work in the city, Part 1, Part 2; and Gardens of Vishnu & Shiva.

Foster teaches gardening and the Bible at 615 Saratoga Avenue.

(1110140700; 120828;140519_0700)

10 Responses to “The Garden of Gethsemane in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn. Series: God in NYC Gardens” Leave a reply ›

  • Our quaint little historic church at 310 East 42nd Street@2nd Avenue in Manhattan would love to start a garden on our roof, but we don't have the manpower. Most people don't realize how churches are struggling to survive. Our utility bills are over $5,000/mo and with a small congregation of mostly elderly people, how can we do it, but where there's a will there's a way. We welcome anyone who would like to explore the feasability!

  • I would love to visit this garden! Thanks!

  • I like this!

  • Thanks for sharing this... great read this morning. Once I drove through Brownsville, Brooklyn... it really opened my eyes Journey, to ALL that goes on and makes up New York City. . . .... since living in Brooklyn I have a deeper appreciation for all 5 boroughs -that = NYC.

  • Like this

  • I really like this article. What an inspiration! We can all be little "gardens" amidst whatever no-man's-land we find ourselves in. This article is proof that the darkness cannot overcome the light that shines within it. Thanks for the great reporting and all that a Journey does!

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