At the Lillian Wald Houses on the Lower East Side, life has gotten prettier and greener with a modern upgrade -- a garden of rosemary, mint and beans.
The 8,000-square-foot green space was installed at the public housing development by the New York City Housing Authority and Planters, the snack nut company, to help reach the city's goal of providing park space to all New Yorkers within a 10-minute walk from their homes.
"It makes you feel good," resident John Zartler, 45, said of the Planters Grove garden, which also has benches. "It's pleasant to look at. I'm really glad that they are doing this because the [housing] projects need to be improved."
The Planters Grove "will help enrich the lives of our residents," New York City Housing Authority chairman John B. Rhea said in a statement. "It is an example of how we can work together with partners and the community to create greener and greater NYCHA neighborhoods."
The mission of the snack-nut giant owned by Kraft Foods, which developed and paid an undisclosed amount for the project, was to bring back nature to "urban areas," said Scott Marcus, Planters senior brand manager in Hanover, N.J.
The garden is one of three built across the nation.
Peanuts cannot grow in New York. Instead, the peanut garden project planted other legumes, which "replenish the earth with nitrogen," Marcus said.
The garden, with herbs including sage, thyme and lavender, can be picked and used by residents, and will be maintained by children in the neighborhood, he said. Other plantings in the garden include pink roses and butterfly bushes.
Members of Green City Force, which provides housing authority youths with job training, helped build the park.
"It brings life to the projects -- the bushes before were dying," said Felix Morales, 44, a housing authority maintenance worker who was watering the new grass and plantings, which were installed this week.
Walking through the garden, Maribel Rodriguez, 49, who moved to Lillian Wald Houses 20 years ago, said the garden is "nice to look at, and I know that the people who put this here worked hard. I just hope that we can keep it up."
Rodriguez is one of more than 4,500 residents of Lillian Wald, which has 16 buildings.
Frank Nieves, 82, who has lived at the Lillian Wald Houses for 50 years, said he was delighted with the garden. "It's good to see," Nieves said. "It's beautiful."