Taylor Farms Pledges $2 Million to Support Cal Poly’s New Plant Sciences Complex

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif — Taylor Farms, a family-owned, Salinas-based company and North America’s leading producer of salads and healthy fresh foods, has pledged $2 million to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences’ new Plant Sciences Complex. This gift will help fund the new George Wurzel Plant Sciences Building, which will be the teaching and research hub of the Plant Sciences Complex.

The new building, slated to open in late 2025, will bring together multiple disciplines such as plant and crop sciences, agronomy and horticulture, plant breeding and physiology, plant protection, bioresource and agricultural engineering and reforestation under one roof to tackle California’s most pressing food and agriculture challenges.

The Plant Sciences Complex will ensure that students learn in facilities as technologically advanced as the professional agriculture world they will enter — readying graduates to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways, which will have immediate impact in California and beyond. The $30 million-plus facility is being built with funding from industry supporters who know the value of the hands-on education Cal Poly students receive.

“We are honored to support the new Plant Sciences Complex at Cal Poly to help students gain access and insight into the latest technology during their studies in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences,” said Bruce Taylor, chairman and CEO of Taylor Farms. “By partnering with other industry leaders, together we can help bring this facility to students and ensure our future leaders are ready to address complex issues.”

Taylor, a third-generation produce grower in the Salinas Valley, is a recognized leader in the agricultural industry. In 1995, he founded Taylor Fresh Foods, now known as Taylor Farms, which is now a leading producer in the produce industry with 22 production facilities throughout North America. Taylor Farms has historically hired graduates from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, making this donation that much more important to the company.

In November 2023, Cal Poly broke ground on the 6-acre development, which will feature a 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 is located at the entrance of campus off Highland Drive, making it highly visible to students and the public and creating an on-campus food and agriculture hub along with the adjacent new JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture, the Strawberry Center, and dairy, creamery and organic fields, among other hands-on learning labs.

“The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences understands the importance of food and agriculture to California and beyond,” said Bill Hendricks, interim dean. “The new Plant Sciences Complex will enable us to train the next generation of agriculturalists and food innovators. Without industry partners like Taylor Farms, this would not be possible.”

The complex will include support for applied innovation and teaching in soil health, water and air quality, plant cultivation, harvesting and processing, food safety, and a site for automation and systems testing. It will be built in four phases, with the George Wurzel Plant Sciences Building built first. Research labs will be modular, flexible and adaptable spaces — facilitating interdisciplinary discussions and applied learning among faculty, students and industry partners.

The second phase includes a new, state-of-the-art, approximately 60,000-square-foot high-tech greenhouse complex that will provide students with hands-on learning and research experience in climate-resilient practices as well as controlled-environment and vertical growing space.

The third phase will be the construction of a produce packing and cooling facility, followed by the fourth and final phase, a farm store that will bring together all of Cal Poly’s student-grown and -made food and agriculture products at a single, central campus location. The farm store will serve the campus and community, selling 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.

To join the effort in taking the next big step for Cal Poly’s Plant Sciences Department, contact Russ Kabaker, assistant dean of advancement and external relations, at 805-756-6601 or rkabaker@calpoly.edu.

About Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, comprehensive polytechnic university. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is comprised of expert faculty members who take pride in their ability to transform academically motivated students into innovative professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, including organic and conventional crop land, orchards, vineyards, forests, and rangeland, all of which provide the basis for Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology. It is the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country with more than 4,100 undergraduate students. For more information visit CAFES.calpoly.edu.

About Taylor Farms  

Taylor Farms is the leading North American producer of salads and healthy fresh foods with production facilities across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Taylor Farms is grounded in a commitment to quality, assured supply, innovation, sustainability, and food safety. Taylor Farms is family owned and based in “The Salad Bowl of the World”, Salinas, California. For more information, delicious recipes, and more, visit www.taylorfarms.com and follow Taylor Farms on InstagramFacebook, and TikTok.