The weathered brown of untamed ivy in the green space between Dow and West Main now shares residency with a newly-planted group of wildflowers in a project developed through Facilities Management, or “FacMan.” The departure of unmanageable roots not only marks an aesthetic shift but also an environmental one. The budding indigenous blooms will benefit the struggling pollinators who have been seeking native flowers in gardens of unknown landscapes.
The previously unused land is undergoing a transformation in a deliberate effort to reciprocate the connection between the Kalamazoo College campus and the ground upon which it is built. Acknowledging the loss of native prairie wildlife as a result of campus construction, FacMan seeks to inhabit much of the idle garden space with flowers indigenous to the land.
Victor Garcia, FacMan Grounds Coordinator, describes the future upkeep of the land as “not dependent on a lot of human factors” due to the indigenous nature of what will be planted, adding that “at a point we can step back and allow it to flourish on its own.” The native seeds will add vibrant color to the land and allow for a greater movement of native pollinators, all at a comparatively low price tag.
The project’s labor costs have also been kept low as the future Save the Bees Living Learning House undertook the removal of the plants that were occupying the space. Working in tandem with the house and other student volunteers, FacMan hopes to see flowers budding by next spring. The work serves to reduce the ecological footprint of the college and furthers campus efforts to comply with the vision held by the Arcus Foundation.
The Arcus Foundation “seek[s] to create and sustain environments where life can grow and thrive, from the Arcus workplace to the communities of [its] partners and stakeholders to the habitats of animal life.” Previously, Kalamazoo College enacted this mission within the natural spaces around the Arcus Center. The neighborhood near the building expressed a distaste for the wild plants, and it was unfortunately reduced to the areas present today.
With the somewhat secluded nature of the burgeoning plot of land, the pollinators will bring beauty to the campus while sustaining the other flowers in the area without bother to those within the campus itself.
The transformation serves as a pilot for other spots on campus that have been identified by FacMan as viable options for future projects. Garcia expressed that the project is more than simply a means to achieve a more cost effective or beautiful campus, but rather that it is a visual reminder “at the core we are all of the same community.”