Cabrillo's Horticulture Department has world class facilities in which to get a strong hands-on educational experience.
Some of the facilities are available for rent. The three classrooms 5001, 5005, and 5010 and the entire 5000 building, patio, and landscape are available for rent through Cabrillo Extension. Please call the Cabrillo Extension Facilities Use and Events Coordinator at (831) 479-6332 to have your next event here with our spectacular view of Monterey Bay. The Horticulture faculty do not schedule the facility and can not help you do so.
Our AgTech Greenhouse was built in 2018 and we opened it in 2019. It has state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar panels specifically designed for greenhouse use. The greenhouse has water catchment systems and automated environmental controls. We are currently growing our most popular farmers market item, Persian cucumbers, in this greenhouse. Students learn in this greenhouse in the following courses: hydroponic and substrate production, introduction to horticulture, and crop production.
Nursery and Greenhouse
Nursery Building: 5100
The Nursery Building, 5100 is on the left as you enter the fenced area in the back of the Horticulture Center. It comprises the Horticulture and Agriculture Technology Center staff offices, harvest room, lunch room, and laboratory Classroom, where students learn hands-on techniques for plant propagation and care.
Laboratory Classroom: 5110
The Laboratory classroom is an expansive space with stainless steel tables and a concrete floor with drains, a perfect room for learning the arts of nursery production in all its phases. Students use this room to conduct media testing, to practice canning and potting techniques, to measure pH and EC, as well as learn how to identify plant parts.
There are five hoop houses near the back of the nursery area. They are used throughout the season to show the sequence of typical crop production. One house is the propagation house, the second is for lining out stock, one houses our rare plant collection, and the other two are for hardening off the crop before going outside. Four have each been named to honor the contributions of The Westcliff Foundation, Golden State Bulb Growers, Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, and Driscoll Strawberry Associates.
The large production greenhouse is an 8,000 square foot greenhouse complex named in honor of the Solari family. In the center is the Head House where much of the propagation goes on during the year by our students, staff, and volunteers. On either side are the 3,600 square foot greenhouse areas.
One side is dedicated to Controlled Environment Agriculture - hydroponic tomatoes, basil and aquaponic greens. The other side grows Poinsettias in the fall, and lots of other nursery crops for sale at the Aptos Farmers Market.
The Nursery Area wouldn't be complete without its shade houses. The Spencer/Rooney North Shade House is the staging area for our CCOF Organic urban vegetable production. The other two houses are filled with various crops for sale at the Aptos Farmers Market.
Certified Organic Farm
Our farm was started in 2008 in response to our students.
Our goal is to provide valuable hands-on training and theory in best management practices, which can mean small-scale, larger-scale organic or even conventional farming.
The one acre certified organic farm is farmed and managed by two Horticulture classes. On the farm, tomatoes, peppers, onions, broccoli, kale, pumpkin, squash, strawberries, and artichokes are grown. Our latest addition in November 2023 is the transition to organic in the raspberry and blackberry high tunnel.
Hydroponic and Aquaponic Food Production
Our hydroponic, substrate, and aquaponics production systems were in response to our students' requests. Our goal is to provide valuable hands-on training and theory in producing high quality food crops indoors and out. Hydroponics and aquaponics are great ways to teach science and can lead to increased student interests in STEM. We offer a class each semester. Students taking the class harvest produce each week, test water parameters, train the tomatoes, plant basil and lettuce as well as mix fertilizers.
The progression of our system is classic of a small business expanding and finding better ways to do things. It also has expanded so the classes with a 3 hour lab could handle all the student activities. Another goal is happy customers. Almost all of our produce is sold at the Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Our second system moved into a hoop house. We set up a deep raft and NFT system. They worked great, but we quickly learned that this hoop house had very little "control". So we moved across the road to the large greenhouse and now occupy 3,600 square feet.
Our latest systems include cluster tomatoes in bato buckets producing fruit from October to June.
We also have Basil and sometimes lettuce in our NFT system using commercial computers and channels. We have grown microgreens for the college culinary arts program. The interest in Aquaponics came about because students were asking about organic ways of doing hydroponics. So we jumped right in. Aquaponics combines fish, bacteria and plants into a system that converts fish food into edible (or ornamental) food, and plants. Different types of systems are better for different types of crops. We are currently focusing on water based systems. The UVI model uses Tilapia which are not legal here so we are using koi.
Our system is a scaled version of the system developed by the University of the Virgin Islands. This is the industry standard and has been shown to be productive for over 30 years. It is a high fish density system. We currently produce over 100 heads of lettuce per week. We are growing organic raspberries and blackberries. We also grow substrate strawberries outdoors in high tunnels donated by Driscolls.
As you come up the hill from the campus perimeter road, the first building you see is the Community Building, so designated because its purpose is to provide the greater Santa Cruz residents a welcoming place to enjoy classes, lectures, individual study, group functions as well as a marvelous view of the Monterey Bay to the south. The building houses a spacious lobby, community room, lecture classroom, faculty offices, a learning center/library and site of the future garden store.
Koppes Community Room
The Koppes Community Room is a large multipurpose room with views of the entry courtyard and Monterey Bay. As a classroom, it comfortably seats seventy students and has overhead computerized projection capabilities, sound system and work boards. It also functions as a meeting room and often provides a space for catered dining events. The room was named in honor of the generous donation by the Koppes family.
Schwab Lecture Classroom
The Schwab Lecture Classroom offers the latest teaching technology to students.