Mr. Peanut will soon be found sitting on a bench in New Orleans’ crime-ridden Central City, courtesy of Planters and the Corps Network.
Planters joined up with the Corps Network (the organization behind the 143 service and conservation corps in the U.S.) and landscape architect Ken Smith last November in a campaign, dubbed “Naturally Remarkable” to turn abandoned land throughout the country into Planters-inspired green spaces. This week, community members–local Corps members and community volunteers–broke ground on the first green space, a 100×100-foot grove in Central City.
“Planters was clear about what they didn’t want to do. They didn’t want to do a typical community garden, pocket park, or playground,” says Smith. “It forced me to make something that would transform normal ideas about urban spaces.”
So Smith decided to plant a grove of 15 bald Cypress trees on a formal grid. Underneath, there will be three peanut-shaped spots–a garden space, rain garden, and a paved meeting place. The grove will also have benches, including one with a Mr. Peanut sculpture sitting to the side.
Planters is also installing gutters on the roof of a house adjacent to the lot so that it can store run-off water in an above-ground rain barrel. “It will be enough water to irrigate the garden year-round,” says Smith.
In the coming months, Planters will select sites to transform in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New York. All of the green spaces will feature native plants from the legume family, a water garden, reclaimed materials (the New Orleans space uses recycled concrete, paving, and window sashes), Mr. Peanut sitting on a bench, and other peanut-shaped elements. The sites will be, in other words, visual manifestations of the place where corporate social responsibility, art, and peanuts meet.