Sprouting Success

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences continues to invest in the future of food and agriculture to ensure its graduates are ready to make an immediate impact in industry. The next phase of development includes two projects, totaling more than $60 million, that will expand offerings in both the plant and animal sciences areas in the college.

The Plant Sciences Complex and the Animal Health Center, both breaking ground in the spring, will expand on the college’s transformation over the past 10-plus years, and be the latest additions to the new facilities including the Boswell Agricultural Tech Center, the JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture and the Oppenheimer Family Equine Center constructed during that time (see cover image and legend inside the front cover). These new facilities will provide additional learning laboratories and classrooms, collaborative spaces for interdisciplinary research and a state-of-the-art veterinary clinic.

“We continue to build for the future to ensure that Cal Poly students are immersed in the latest technologies in both our indoor and outdoor learning spaces,” Bill Hendricks, interim dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences said. “These new buildings have been critical pieces of the college’s vision for more than a decade and now, with increasing student demand and critical donor support, we are launching forward.”



The 6-acre Plant Sciences Complex, located on the corner of Highland Drive and Mt. Bishop Road, will feature a new teaching and laboratory building, state-of-the-art research and production greenhouses, an ancillary produce packing and cooling facility and a farm store for food retail operations. The complex will include support for applied innovation and teaching in soil health, water and air quality, plant cultivation, entomology, forestry and reforestation, harvesting and processing, and food safety, as well as a site for automation and systems testing.

The complex will be built in four phases, with construction for phase one beginning this spring. The George Wurzel Plant Sciences Building, with seed funding provided by the JG Boswell Company in recognition of longtime employee and Cal Poly alumnus George Wurzel (Crop Science, ’87) , will be the teaching and research hub of the complex, bringing together multiple complementary disciplines under one roof to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges.

Research labs will be modular, flexible and adaptable spaces – facilitating interdisciplinary discussions and applied learning among faculty, students and industry partners. The building will offer the college’s food, agriculture and environmental industry partners with an opportunity to secure dedicated laboratory and equipment spaces that can serve as the new home for our food and agriculture programs at Cal Poly.

The second phase, a new, state-of-the-art high tech greenhouse complex, will provide students with hands-on learning and research experience in climate-resilient practices as well as controlled environment and vertical growing space. Key features include small, medium and large production spaces that can facilitate a multitude of crops, a soil mixing room, germination chamber, head house and multiple research labs.

The third phase is a produce packing and cooling facility that will enable students to cool, wash, sort and store fresh produce, making high-quality, nutrient-dense fresh food available to the campus community as well as local schools and food banks.The fourth and final phase is a farm store that will bring together all of Cal Poly’s food and agriculture products to a single, central campus location serving the campus and community to make available for sale fresh, locally grown and produced food to improve healthy food choices. Students will gain experience in retail supply chain, merchandising, marketing and more – all while showcasing student-made and produced food and beverage products.

The complex, which has thus far received major funding from industry partners including JG Boswell, Taylor Farms, Bee Sweet Citrus and others, will bring together multiple complementary disciplines in one hub to tackle California’s most pressing food and agricultural challenges, including soil health, water and air quality, controlled environment agriculture plant production, harvesting, cooling and packing, food safety, and automation. Partnered with the college’s existing Strawberry Center, Grimm Family Center for Organic Production and Research and programs in the Plant Sciences, Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences and BioResource and Agricultural Engineering departments, the complex will be a training ground for the next generation of CAFES students.



The Charles and Claire Jacobson Animal Health Center is set to become an interactive, experiential animal facility that embraces hands-on learning, supporting the next generation of leaders in veterinary medicine, animal healthcare and animal agriculture. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences offers one of the largest animal sciences programs in the country, with 75% of students entering with a desire to become a veterinarian – and is poised to serve as a much needed pipeline for students who seek to enter a career in large animal veterinary care.

The center, located off of Via Carta Road, will be walking distance to the Oppenheimer Family Equine Center and horse paddocks. New student housing designated for students who work in one of the college’s 15 student-run production facilities is also being constructed nearby.

The complex features 17,500 square feet of multi-use space flexible for teaching, research and clinical training — including wet labs, a surgery suite and a necropsy area. It will include a covered outdoor area for animal examinations and a mobile ambulatory component that will expose students to livestock practices and encourage them to consider a career in animal care. The building will reinforce teaching, research and clinical training for animal science students in a modern, state-of-the-art facility that will meet the growing demand for animal health and science professionals.

Cal Poly is a leader in veterinary medicine and animal agriculture, and one of only two undergraduate teaching veterinary clinics in the United States. The new center will provide an enhanced teaching space for veterinary care and expand on opportunities for students to get hands-on experience treating the college’s livestock including horses, cattle and swine. New treatment stalls and loading areas will create ease in moving animals from pasture to the facility — eliminating the need to treat animals in the field and giving students access to state-of-the-art equipment. In addition, the lab area will be configured with technology to allow larger groups of students to view procedures as they are done. “This new facility will allow us to teach at a level that better prepares students planning to attend veterinary school to transition with ease,” said Kim Sprayberry, associate head of the Animal Science Department. It will also have modern, state-of-the-art instrumentation and equipment that will enable students who work in small-animal practices to learn in an environment that is on par with their current workplaces, as well as the practices they will join after veterinary school.

The Charles and Claire Jacobson Animal Health Center will ultimately foster a more collaborative and interdisciplinary approach between people, animals and their shared environment while training students in sustainable animal food production and animal agriculture. “We have spent many years improvising and adapting with our existing facilitates to offer students the best hands-on learning experience possible,” said George Gallagher, head of the Animal Science Department. “We are now evolving.” The complex will position Cal Poly as the top undergraduate animal science program for student, faculty and industry partners in the country.

Naming opportunities in the Plant Sciences Complex for teaching and laboratory spaces in the new George Wurzel Plant Sciences building are available. To learn more, contact Russ Kabaker, assistant dean for advancement and external relations, at 805-458-0847 or email rkabaker@calpoly.edu.


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