Ornamental Greenhouses


Anticipated enhancements and repairs are in the works for the college’s 18,000-square-foot ornamental horticulture facility thanks to a generous donation by an alumnus of the program. The current facility has served thousands of students since 1969 and the ornamental horticulture program has played an integral role in undergraduate curriculum at Cal Poly since the early 1900s. Students in the program learn about landscape and horticulture installation and design, vegetable production, floral production and design and disease and pest control management.

Dean Andy Thulin and Alumnus Charles Walton
at the Honored Alumni Awards event in 2015.

Alumnus and longtime College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences dean’s advisory council member, Charles Walton (Ornamental Horticulture, ’66), donated $1 million for the project, which will be used to modernize and update the complex. Updates to the complex include the installation of new shade and thermal curtains; advanced fog, cooling and steam-sterilization systems; new concrete flooring and more. These advancements enhance student learning while reducing energy waste and consumption.

Walton, who was named the college’s honored alumnus in 2015, is the past owner and CEO of the Smithers-Oasis Company, an international producer and marketer of floral and horticultural products. He made the gift in honor of Dean Emeritus Howard Brown (Ornamental Horticulture, ’43), who taught Walton while he was a student at Cal Poly. Brown, who was also the former head of the Ornamental Horticulture Department, served at Cal Poly for over 40 years and left a significant impact on those he interacted with – one that Walton would like to honor by naming the upgraded facility after him.

“Howard Brown was a bigger-than-life individual. I cannot imagine anyone else’s name that should be on the building than his,” said Walton. “There are few times in life that you can do something for someone who has meant so much to you, and this is that opportunity.”

Updates to the complex begin this fall. The improvements pave the way for the next phase of enhancements – a 60,000-square-foot, high-tech Venlo-style greenhouse complex, part of the new Plant Sciences Complex, which will break ground on campus in the coming year. For more information about supporting upcoming projects in the college, please contact Russ Kabaker at rkabaker@calpoly.edu.


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