By Sean Soni, Almaha Almalki, Jingxian Zhang, Autumn Jing
The data say that the number of bee colonies in the United States has been rapidly declining over the last decade. We want to tell this story because bees are the main pollinator of many of our favorite fruits and vegetables, and without bees we could lose these foods forever. Thus we have created an interactive display for farmer’s markets which shows customers how the price of their purchase would change as the number of bee colonies decline. When customers check out, their receipt has a QR code that they can take to a kiosk and scan, with the promise of a free packet of seeds as in incentive. At the kiosk, they can interact with a map of where their produce comes from. As they slide a slider to manipulate the number of bee colonies, the density of the produce on the map increases or decreases, and the price they would have paid for today’s produce increases or decreases as well. After the demo is complete, a free packet of local, bee-friendly seeds is dispensed, and the customer is presented with the opportunity to sign a petition to ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as donate to Save the Bees, an organization studying Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Our data is sourced from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, and we used historical changes in food prices due to the cost of beehive rental to extrapolate how food prices might change in the future. Although this data is subjective, the exact numbers aren’t as important as the final number: With zero bees, several fruits and vegetables will cease to be available, no matter how much one is willing to pay.
Our audience is any customer shopping at the farmer’s market. We believe that these customers are already more aware about their food sources than the average consumer, and are more likely to support our cause. In addition, implementing our demonstration at a farmer’s market rather than a grocery store allows us to target our message at people who are mainly buying produce, increasing its relevance. We believe our method is effective because people are more likely to be engaged by the interactive nature of our display, and giving out free seeds encourages people to reciprocate with their support. Our goals are to help end CCD by raising money to research and prevent this disorder, as well as to garner enough signatures for a petition to Congress to ban neonicotinoid pesticides, which scientists believe are a major contributor to CCD.