Center for Sustainability

Center for Sustainability

Agriculture for Tomorrow

A College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) Program

Cal Poly landscape

Stewards of Tomorrow

Preparing leaders in sustainability through education, research, outreach, and operations.

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.

  —Mahatma Gandhi


Thanks to generous contributions from: 

Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation

Cal Poly CAFES Experimental Farm

                                                                                                Image credit: Andy Sherar, Mustang News 

Cal Poly Student Experimental Farm

The CAFES Experimental Farm is a two-acre farm and garden that has served as a hands-on living laboratory for Cal Poly students since 1989. In keeping with its name, it has been home to an interdisciplinary array of innovative appropriate technology projects, demonstrating everything from sustainable agriculture and horticulture to holistic management, aquaponics, alternative energy and green building. With a panoramic view of campus, it has also served as a popular meeting spot for classes, workshops and community gatherings. The Experimental Farm is managed by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) and is located next to the Compost Unit off of Mount Bishop Road.

*Student activity at the CEF is currently limited to members of approved classes and clubs. Outdoor coursework and projects overseen by a faculty advisor are permitted, pending approval by the Experimental Farm Advisory Committee.

Student Farm Manager

The student farm manager works with facilitators to develop action plans for the improvement and management of the CEF, and assists in coordinating and facilitating class, club and other student activities. They serve as a primary liaison between students and faculty using the site and the faculty advisory group. The manager is also responsible for helping implement safe Learn by Doing rules and procedures. 

The student farm manager plays an important role in developing experiential learning opportunities at the Experimental Farm. Check out Brandon's great work in the Cal Poly Partners Impact Video!

Student Farm Manager 2024-2025: TBD
Student Farm Manager 2021-2023: Brandon Hurd (NRES)
Student Farm Manager 2020-2021: Robin Pearson (NRES)

Experimental Farm Advisory Committee

The faculty advisory committee is currently comprised of the individuals listed below. This group will meet quarterly to discuss overall strategy and specific issues as they arise. Advisors and managers work closely with students and faculty involved in current and future projects to ensure smooth growth and continued success.

Advisory Committee
Nick Babin (NRES)
Claire Balint (CFS)
G.W. Bates (BRAE)
Ben Swan (AGED)

We are excited to continue to foster the unique Learn by Doing opportunities at the SEF and begin a new phase of activity that builds upon the incredible work of past and present doers and leaders. This new phase of activity will be overseen by the CAFES Facilities Department and the Center for Sustainability (CFS). 


For over three decades, thousands of students and community members have partaken in an incredible array of educational activities at the Student Experimental Farm (SEF). This is been made possible by the dedication of generations of student, staff and faculty leaders who have worked together at the SEF to develop numerous pioneering and innovative projects in sustainable agriculture. To read a narrative of past activities, please CLICK HERE 
To view Huell Howser's 2006 visit to the SEF CLICK HERE

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all participants - past, present and future - who’ve given of their time and energy for the benefit of Cal Poly and the community. 

Related Content


More events


Students at Swanton Pacific Ranch

Explore topics and initiatives in sustainable agriculture

Go to Resources


Learn by Doing on the campus farm

Make a Gift

Sign Up

Monthly Updates

Go to Announcements