Four sophomore biological sciences majors successfully raised enough money to build a 980-square-foot pathway paved not by asphalt, but flowers.
The Botanic Buzzline pathway slated to link the Cornell Dairy Bar and the Cornell Botanic Gardens seeks to connect not just people, but bees. It reverses the “fragmentation of green spaces” in the campus that prevents pollinators from freely traveling from one patch of vegetation to another, according to Lev Krasnovsky ’21, the project lead behind the initiative.
“A lot of pollinators can’t travel far distances without stops for nectar,” Krasnovsky said. “If one green space is separated by a parking lot and road from another green space, [pollinators] are stuck in an island.”
The four students used a Cornell-sponsored crowdfunding platform to raise 109 percent of their $10,000 goal by the end of the campaign, according to their campaign page.
The team members — all part of a program that promotes biology-related service projects — will use their funds to purchase mulch, flowers and other materials required to build and maintain the pathway. They also plan to hire contractors to make educational signage and ironwork sculptures raising awareness of their project and pollinators, Krasnovsky said.
Krasnovsky said that team members quickly realized they were wrong to think that a crowdfunder would “run by itself” once they set it up. While his team ended up raising more money than their initial fundraising goals, that was only after they conducted extensive outreach to the Cornell community.
“[We thought that] once the crowdfunder goes live, it’s kind of going to run itself — that couldn’t have been further from the truth,” Krasnovsky said. “Almost every day we had to do new outreach, film new videos and respond to organizations.”
The program encountered pushback from the University during its planning phase, according to Krasnovsky. Several administrators at the Cornell Grounds Department expressed concerns that the program would negatively affect people with bee allergies and “de-fertilize” the soil near the roads when winter maintenance crews pepper salt onto the pavement.
In response to the concerns, the student team scaled back their initial plans to create paths in parts of Cornell’s Central Campus to create a shorter route spanning from the Cornell Dairy Bar to the Botanical Gardens.
The project team also had to adjust their plans to take Ithaca weather into consideration.
“Ithaca’s weather is really tricky — initially the plan was to have the big planting day two weeks from now,” Krasnovsky said. “We can do bigger and better things in the spring and it’s probably a little bit safer because there’s less frost death.”
Krasnovsky explained that the team’s larger goal is to connect “people, plants and pollinators” to “remind [people] that they we all share the earth together.”
“There’s sort of been a lot of separation happening just in general as humanity gets more industrialized and so we’re really trying to bring people, plants and pollinators together.”