Monday, December 6, 2021

Cuyamaca College celebrates ribbon-cutting of revamped OH complex


 Like a shot of Miracle-Gro to a houseplant, Cuyamaca College’s expanded Ornamental Horticulture complex is expected to invigorate the campus flagship program.

A ribbon-cutting Friday celebrated the $19.4 million renovation of the site, with added indoor and outdoor classrooms and facilities, doubled square footage of building spaces, and a state-of-art, high-tech greenhouse for the college’s Ornamental Horticulture program. Also added was a separate new building housing the nursery’s retail shop, along with office and meeting rooms.

“We are proud of our stellar graduates who are prepared to take on jobs in the green industry in our region and beyond,” college President Julianna Barnes said to about 80 attendees gathered for the mid-morning celebration. “These facilities will help our students work in classrooms and outdoor spaces that model the professional world.”

This project, started in August 2019, was funded by Proposition V, a $398 million construction bond measure passed by East County voters in 2012 to improve and add facilities at Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges to meet student needs.

“We can’t thank the taxpayers of East County enough for making this vision a reality,” said Chancellor Lynn Neault. “We’re here today because of their support. We are creating a future for our students.”

Also speaking at the event was Governing Board President Brad Monroe, a founding faculty member of the college and longtime coordinator of the Ornamental Horticulture program until his retirement in 2012.

Pink LED grow lights in the greenhouse.

“This is the culmination of a long process,” he said. “I have spent the past 42 years involved in this program, and in retirement, I had gotten to spend time with colleagues designing this new complex. The fantastic architectural team really listened to the group of individuals that will use the facility. They incorporated almost to a T everything that was suggested.”

Monroe said that with the support of the Rice Family Foundation, which has provided an estimated $1 million in donations to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, as well as other critical backers of one of Cuyamaca’s cornerstone programs, he is confident of future improvements to the OH complex.

“We will continue to work to find funds to add a shade area for nursery sales and a shade area for propagating and potting on the other end of the greenhouse,” he said. “We’re not through. We’re going to continue. We’re not going to stop.”

Started in 1980, Cuyamaca’s OH program is a two-year program that offers nine degrees and certificates in arboriculture, floral design, golf course and sports turf management; irrigation technology; landscape design; landscape technology; nursery technology; sustainable urban landscapes; and basic ornamental horticulture.

With the renovation, the program’s students have updated facilities and upgraded technology, including pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera systems and dozens of large video screens throughout the complex. The project consisted of gutting and renovating Building M to accommodate a design lab, and a lab prep room on one end and a large classroom on the other. Key additions include a much-needed storage facility, as well as a cooler large enough to store flowers and delicate arrangements created in the floral design program.

The new greenhouse and retail space is expected to be a big boost to the program’s retail nursery. Proceeds from nursery sales fund scholarships and pay for educational class trips. About 30,000 plants, including vegetables, herbs, California native plants, a vast array of annuals and perennial flowering plants, as well as trees and shrubs, are sold annually.

Other Prop V projects

The district’s other major Prop. V projects under construction include a Student Services and Administration Building at Cuyamaca College and a Science, Math and Career Tech Complex at Grossmont College.

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