Cal Poly Partners with Morro Bay in Bloom to Beautify Downtown Morro Bay

Contact: AnnMarie Cornejo

SAN LUIS OBISPO -- Planter boxes brimming with green foliage and blooming flowers now adorn downtown Morro Bay, creating an elegant touch to the classic beach town in a beautification effort done through a partnership including Cal Poly’s Horticulture and Crop Science Department and Morro Bay in Bloom.

Proven Winners, a leading plant wholesale company, donated the plants to Cal Poly, and a handful of students grew them in the university’s Horticulture Unit and then transplanted them to 18 planter boxes that were placed strategically near businesses throughout the city. 

Wendy Robinson, manager of Cal Poly’s greenhouses, connected with the nonprofit as a way to involve students in the beautification effort. Cal Poly lecturer Susan Snyder spearheaded the design concepts, while Robinson oversaw the plant production with student employees. 

“Cal Poly’s partnership with Morro Bay in Bloom provided students with a hands-on horticulture project that they were able to execute from start to finish,” Robinson said. “Students grew the plants from 2-inch rooted plugs and were tasked with creating an aesthetic plan for integrating them throughout the city.” 

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Cal Poly agricultural and environmental plant sciences senior Jared Smith transplants some of the plants he grew in the Cal Poly greenhouses into one of the planters in downtown Morro Bay.

The volunteer-based Morro Bay in Bloom is dedicated to beautifying the city by landscaping public spaces and integrating floral design and urban forestry with environmental stewardship. Areas maintained by the group include: the traffic circle on Morro Bay Boulevard, the flower boxes along Morro Bay Boulevard and Main Street, and flower beds along Morro Bay’s Embarcadero and the Visitors’ Center. 

“The new collaboration among Cal Poly, Morro Bay in Bloom, and Proven Winners is a solid success for all three partners,” said Laurel Barton, a Morro Bay in Bloom volunteer. “Cal Poly horticulture students are exposed to a hands-on learning experience guided by customer expectations; Proven Winners gets a new location and microclimate to test its plants and gather public feedback; and Morro Bay in Bloom gets to test drive new varieties of plants grown by a new generation of dedicated students.”

Walter Heath, who cofounded Morro Bay in Bloom in 2013, said the city has been recognized three times for its beautification efforts by America in Bloom, a national program that promotes beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of natural enhancements. Heath said he envisions the partnership with Cal Poly will pave the way for another beautification award — earning recognition for the both the city and the students who labored to make the project a reality. 

To watch a video about the collaboration, visit


About Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, comprehensive polytechnic university. The university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is comprised of expert faculty members who take pride in their ability to transform academically motivated students into innovative professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, including ranch land, orchards, vineyards and forests, all of which provide the basis for Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology. It is the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country, with 4,000 undergraduate students.

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