In 1971 the vacant lot at Bergen Street's Block 387, Lots 38 and 39,
was an illegal parking lot. The 200 Bergen Street Block Association
organized local residents to clean up the site and create a
neighborhood vest pocket park upon the urging of Miss Ida Oliffe.
At first it consisted of a modest vegetable garden.
During the 1970s the Block Association sponsored annual International
Food Fairs which attracted hundreds of visitors to the block. The
fairs raised funds necessary to construct a wrought iron fence and
other features for the park.
During the 1980s working with the Magnolia Tree Earth Center of
Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Block Association created the current
landscape design, which includes a pathway, sitting area surrounded by
trees and shrubs.
The garden was transformed into a beautiful flower garden and woodland
area by neighborhood resident David Foulke. For years David organized
numerous events from children's parades to October festivals to
Christmas caroling. In 1994 the garden was named in his honor after
his death. A dogwood tree was planted to commemorate Julio Delatorre,
the local Block president who first inspired and organized the block
members to start a garden.
"Dress Up Your Neighborhood" Molly Parnis awards were given to the
garden in 1972, 1988 and 1989.
In 1996/1997 the Bergen Street Block Association raised money from
businesses, civic associations and individuals to put a new wooden
fence in the rear of the garden. The Boerum Hill Association donated a
bulletin board on which flyers and official notices now inform garden
users and passersby about events of community interest.
In 1999 the whole neighborhood rallied to save the garden from being
sold by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. To people on the block, the garden was
and is part of the neighborhood family. Our children have celebrated
birthday parties and Halloween. Neighbors have gathered to sing there and award
scholarships to young people who go to college. There have been block
meetings, fundraisers, weddings and memorials.
In 2002 gardeners worked with local schools to plant bulbs to
commemorate 9/11 victims. There were much needed repairs and a new
design including a brick pathway, a seating area and a large
sandbox for children to play in.
In 2007 the Trust for Public Land provided the funds to construct the new
design and a new sidewalk. We are forever grateful that Trust for
Public Land stepped in to purchase 67 gardens and preserved them as
open space in perpetuity. In 2011 TPL turned over ownership of the 34 gardens
in Brooklyn and Queens to the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust.