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Cuyamaca College ribbon-cutting for remodeled Ornamental Horticulture complex

Posted on: Nov 29, 2021 12:00:00 AM
In: District
Buildings and Facilities
Contact: Della Elliott

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held Friday, Dec. 3, for Cuyamaca College’s expanded Ornamental Horticulture complex marks a new chapter for one of the campus’ flagship programs.

The 10 a.m. ceremony will mark the completion of a $19.4 million project that renovated indoor and outdoor classrooms and facilities, doubled the square footage of building spaces, and added a state-of-art, high-tech greenhouse for the college’s signature Ornamental Horticulture program. Also added was a separate new building housing the nursery’s retail shop, along with office and meeting rooms.

The ceremony will be held south of the M Building near the large greenhouse structure. It is open to the public, but RSVPs are required at The event will also be livestreamed at Face masks are required if within 6 feet of another person, regardless of vaccination status.

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.

“This project is a milestone for the campus because of the significance of the program and its link to the history of Cuyamaca College,” President Julianna Barnes said. “Ornamental Horticulture has a storied past at our college and with the modernizing of facilities and the new greenhouse in particular, students have a lot to be excited about.” 

As one of the original programs started at Cuyamaca College in 1980, Ornamental Horticulture is a cornerstone program that operates its own retail nursery and each year puts on the popular Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival that draws thousands to the community college campus. Program graduates have gone on to jobs such as landscape architects, turf managers, nursery operators, arborists, floral designers, and even a host of TV landscaping shows – Sara Bendrick of two TV DIY network series, “I Hate my Yard,” and “Lawn & Order.”

“I am forever grateful for the OH program at Cuyamaca College,” Bendrick said at the time of the OH renovation’s groundbreaking. “The hands-on style of training and excellent education was crucial to securing my interest in the profession and continuing my career in this field.”

The San Diego native transferred from Cuyamaca College in 2006 to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she earned a bachelor’s in landscape architecture. She started a full-service landscape design and build firm, Sarita Landscapes Designs in San Diego, in 2012.

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 technology will make learning and teaching more engaging,” said Larry McLemore, dean of Career and Technical Education. “The main advantage of the renovation is that we will be able to provide students an experience that reflects the industry.”

He noted that the old greenhouse was outmoded and had an east to west orientation instead of north to south to benefit most from the sun’s exposure. The new greenhouse has environmental control features to improve plant life and an irrigation system connected to a central computer that will more accurately measure water usage and forecast needs.

OH coordinator John Thomas said the new greenhouse and retail space will 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.




OH nursery sales

OH greenhouseOH greenhouse

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