Urban gardens are garnering big time support not only from individual residents, but from major public and private organizations. In October, Planters brought its “Naturally Remarkable” program to New York City in a partnership with the New York City Housing Authority. Planters, a division of Kraft Foods, cites healthy lifestyles and sustainability as two values it seeks to promote as a company. To this end, Planters began creating Planters Groves, peanut-shaped parks built in urban areas lacking in open green spaces.
The site of NYCHA’s Planters Grove, Lillian Wald Houses, seems a fitting location for a park designed to help improve the health and well-being of its community. Lillian Wald founded the public health nursing service in the United States and devoted her life to improving community health and advocating for universal access to healthcare. NYCHA residents contributed to the Grove’s planning process, and are personally invested in maintaining the garden as a space for future residents to enjoy. The commitment to stewardship is a concept that arose repeatedly in the comments of residents interviewed about the garden.
The Planters Grove at Lillian Wald Houses spans 8,000 square feet, and is a haven for birds and butterflies in the heart of the city. Flowers were planted, of course, but also edible herbs that residents will be free to pluck for family dinners. The park encourages people to spend time outdoors just chatting and enjoying the sunshine with numerous benches. The park sits directly adjacent to Avenue D, so walkers strolling by on the street also enjoy the view, and the whole neighborhood truly benefits.
Mr. Peanut himself showed up to celebrate the opening of Planters Grove, and I can only imagine how delighted the kids must have been to meet a giant peanut traveling to meet them in his Nutmobile. The pictures themselves are priceless, and now Manhattan has one more urban garden for the community to enjoy. If you want to know more about NYCHA’s urban greening efforts, visit GreenNYCHA or the NYCHA Gardening Program website.