Credit: Joe Johnston | Courtesy

Cal Poly’s new plant conservatory is now open to the public, a space dedicated to visitors to learn about plant conservation and appreciate the diverse plant life from around the globe.  

The facility is designed to support the growth of different plant species in different climates, including the lowland tropics, cloud forests, and arid deserts, according to a university news release.

Students from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences will utilize the space to learn and conduct research relevant to different plant-related disciplines.

Located on Village Drive directly off the road to the PCV resident halls, the conservatory also provides space for students to study and relax. 

Conservatory curator Gage Willey is grateful for the visible location. In the past, people didn’t know about the conservatory because of its general relevance to many Cal Poly students and its location.

“A lot of people don’t know that it’s open, we want students to come by to study and meet friends or just take a break and have lunch,” Willey said, hoping the conservatory to become a communal space.

The conservatory is also a space for classes to meet outside of the classroom, with some tests even being taken outside. Previous greenhouses built are smaller in comparison to the conservatory’s 5,000 square footage. The conservatory’s predecessor will now be part of the William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation. 

“It provides more of an experience for students to see the differences in the environments and all of the nuances of the environments we are displaying,” Willey said about the expansion of the plant conservatory. 

The facility is also anticipated to be a center for collaboration and engagement within the community with a variety of outreach programs. 

“We’re helping to increase tree diversity in urban areas and study trees that would grow well in the hotter, drier future of California, despite this rainy winter,” the conservatory’s director and biological sciences professor Matt Ritter said in the news release.  

The City of San Luis Obispo recently approved a community forest plan which hopes to plant 10,000 trees by 2035 in an effort to help fight climate change. Ritter and Dr. Yost helped to get the forest plan on its feet but it has since been taken over by the nonprofit EcoSlo.

The conservatory has already supplied trees for the effort.

“My goal is to get more of the plants we grow here into production so we can get them into the city of San Luis Obispo,” Gage said.

More information on the conservatory and ways to get involved can be found on its website