Highlighting a Campus Gem – The Poly Plant Shop

The first three stories that my group did were feel-good stories. We started with the transition of alcohol being allowed on campus, then second, covered how Cal Poly grads are affecting the local community, and our last story covered a student who runs a local phone repair business. We stuck to a rule set early on that we wanted to do stories that highlight positive events. We believe we continued that trend with our final story, covering Cal Poly’s Poly Plant Shop.

Katlyn capturing students putting together bouquets in the shop.
Katelyn capturing students putting together bouquets in the shop.

The idea came about after we spent a day in class brainstorming. We knew we didn’t really want to do a story having to do with campus administration, because that was similar to our Mustang Station story. This knocked off our idea of going behind the scenes into the food trucks on campus. After brainstorming further, we agreed that we all liked the idea of covering the Poly Plant Shop. It was current, because they were getting ready for their Christmas sale, and it seemed interesting to all of us. Most of all, none of us really knew about it ourselves, and we were eager to learn more.

“I didn’t know about this gem on campus, and it was really cool to learn more about the Poly Plant shop and the variety of things it has to offer for students and community members.”

– Arinee Rahman

To attempt to get in touch with the owners, I first took a look at the Poly Plant Shop website.  This got me in touch with  Melinda Lynch, who informed me that the shop is run by herself, along with Alleen Texeira and Chris Wassenberg, who are faculty and staff in the Horticulture and Crop Science department. We set up a time for our whole team to meet with Melinda later that week. Our group also met with Professor Virginia Walter, who has a ton of experience in flower design and horticulture.

“I have over 40 years of experience in this operation, providing fresh flowers and plants for sales there.”

-Virginia Walter

 Going to the Plant Shop for the first time to meet with Melinda was a very interesting experience.

The shop lies at the end of Via Carta road, where we had all been before. However, none of us realized that there was a plant shop there.

Map to the Poly Plant Shop, provided by the shop's website.
Map to the Poly Plant Shop, provided by the shop’s website.

We got to the shop a bit early, so had some time to explore the grounds and what the shop has to offer. I, along with the rest of my team members we very impressed with the wide array of flowers and plants that the shop offers, as well as how festive it looks. It immediately got us more excited to do the story and learn more.

“I had never actually been to the plant shop before, but had heard of it. After my first visit, I just wanted to keep coming back.”

– Katelyn Piziali

Melinda  proceeded to show us around the shop, and then took us back where they grow all of the plants, which none of us expected would be so elaborate.

Melinda describes to the gorup what happens in the foliage production house.
Melinda describing to the group what happens in the foliage production house.

What we found that makes this story current is that the shop was getting ready for their big Christmas sale which would be in a couple days. The shop sells poinsettias of all colors during the holidays, and the store is jammed during the opening Friday of the sale. Since not many students really know about the shop from what we gathered, the sale is mostly catered to community members who have been coming to the shop for years.

Preparing for the holiday sale!
Preparing for the holiday sale!

What Melinda really stressed to us is that the purpose of the shop isn’t to undermine other flower and plant shops in the community. But rather, it is a means for students who work there to gain experience in the field. I almost thought that it would be cool to work there myself. Spending your days surrounded by flowers and holiday cheer doesn’t sound too bad. But Melinda described further the process of apply to work there, which is actually quite lengthy. But when they do get the job, students gain great experience in horticulture, flower design, among other skills.

“It was interesting hearing about how the Plant Shop has been a way for students of all fields of study, not just Horticulture students, to apply what they learn in class into real world skills.”

– Avrah Baum

While the shop is run very efficiently and looks great, the only recommendation our group could provide would be to upgrade their social media a bit. It seems a little dated, and in this age social media is a key component to running an affective business plan. At the end of the day, we were all very happy to have landed on this topic for our final project. Some of us even learned some new skills ourselves!

“It was my first time working with a GoPro, which was a fun experience.”

-Brittany Tesmer