The expansive, green field around the new Battery Center of BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) in Shenyang, China, has been turned into a farm to grow peanuts.
Proceeds support local community groups.
The harvest is sold to other BMW employees and in local farmers markets, and BMW donates the proceeds for local community projects.
The first harvest was in 2018, when the production facility opened. It produced 2,000 kg of peanuts from a plantation nearly the size of two football fields. This year’s 2020 harvest was a staggering 3,200 kg.
The farm work is done by BMW employees, which the company calls “associates”. They are involved in planting, watering and harvesting throughout the peanut season, which runs from May to September.
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 the production facility 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 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.”
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.
“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.
It’s a good news story, which we all need to read occasionally.
It’s also a story about the unusual ways in which large corporations contribute to the local economy.
Maybe BMW – and other corporations – can think this creatively in the USA, not just in China.