Since its inception in 1994, Cal Poly Pomona’s Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies (an ima project) has attracted thousands of students and visitors each year, providing a hands-on learning platform to explore sustainable living options and practices. ima worked alongside John Lyle, the principal architect and namesake of the project, to combine practicality with philosophy through master planning and landscape architecture designs. ima sourced and implemented each detail very purposely, allowing students to create, study and alter their own experiments directly on site. The widespread design of the grounds and amount of required upkeep conveniently employs a number of students throughout each year who want to work on campus. With many experimental structures, the Lyle Center provides endless opportunities for growth and expansion, both educationally and fundamentally.
JOHN T. LYLE CENTER FOR REGENERATIVE STUDIES
by DAVID BANUELAS, CASSIDY FURNARI, STEPHANIE GEBHARDT, JANE POJAWA, NORMA SALDANA, SILVIA LOPEZ-SEGURA, and JACQUELINE WONG in Spring 2018
Finding organic produce on campus has never been easier — or more affordable — because of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies.
The Lyle Center, perched atop a hill near the university-run Farm Store, is a living laboratory with experimental structures containing passive heating and cooling systems, interdisciplinary aquaponics pods, a hydroponic greenhouse, a permaculture garden and examples of green architecture.
The center dedicates nearly two acres of land to urban farming. Its facilities manager, agrobiologist Jillian Gomez (’10, master’s in regenerative studies), oversees the cultivation of seasonal crops. The bounty of monthly harvests is available to students and community supporters of the CSA program.
“This opportunity allows members of the campus community to ‘invest’ in the garden,” says Stephanie Gebhardt, regenerative studies graduate student and garden volunteer.
Members can collect fresh produce every week for just $20 a year for Cal Poly Pomona students and $100 for non-students.
“We grow according to organic principles using soil to sequester atmospheric carbon,” Gomez says. “We plant using different techniques.”
Those techniques include intercropping, meaning that crops with mutually beneficial relationships are planted near each other. For example, beans add nitrogen to the soil. That nutrient is crucial for corn and squash. Corn, in turn, provide a natural trellis for beans to climb. Terraces are used to grow grains, onions and garlic. The soil is irrigated with a drip irrigation system using reclaimed water.
Gomez’s soil management places an emphasis on heirloom crops and seed saving. In 2016 alone, the Lyle Center harvested an average of 1,200 pounds of produce per month. Because the crops are grown onsite and harvested near the peak of ripeness, the vegetables, fruits and herbs picked by CSA supporters are more flavorful than those available at markets.