Shenyang. The southern side of the new Battery Center of BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) in China offers a rather unusual sight: against the backdrop of the cutting-edge newbuild lies an area of around 13,000 m2, where BBA associates in factory clothing and straw hats are tending to a field. They are growing peanuts.
The idea for this unique project was born two years ago, when construction of the new Battery Center II began. Flora Zhu, a Senior Manager with Utility & Facility Management, explains: “We wanted to create a more diverse, greener and more natural environment for our associates and at the same time make sensible use of existing land.” The idea of peanuts immediately took hold, as the hot summers and high humidity in Shenyang provide ideal climatic conditions.
“So when we celebrated the official groundbreaking for the new Battery Center in 2018, we had lots of other smaller groundbreakings for the peanut plantation as well, where we planted the first peanut kernels in long rows. As our new Battery Center grew and took shape, so did the first peanut plants. They flourished – as did the sense of community among associates.”
The associates are involved in planting, watering and harvesting throughout the peanut season, which runs from May to September. The first harvest, back in 2018, already produced 2,000 kg of peanuts from a plantation almost the size of two football fields. This year’s harvest was a staggering 3,200 kg.
Besides helping associates to bond with each other and with the company, a primary focus of the project is to make a sustainable contribution to the society. Every October, associates organize charity events at BBA’s three plants, where the homegrown peanuts are among the goods on sale to colleagues. The proceeds go to local communities to support infrastructure projects.
“We are convinced that a company can only be successful if it recognizes the importance of long-term, high-quality development. With more major construction projects ongoing, our team is focused on creating a sustainable working environment that is good for our associates and good for the community,” Flora Zhu adds in conclusion.
Images courtesy of BMW