On a steep hill overlooking the Farm Store, the award-winning John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies teaches students about sustainability and serves as a “living laboratory.”

The Lyle Center emphasizes community outreach. With its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, it combines sustainability with agriculture.

The program allows students, faculty and community members to receive fresh produce grown at the Lyle Center on a weekly basis over the course of a year for $50.

“Our goal is to see more students take advantage, especially when it’s tough to get hands on healthy food,” said Gillian Gomez, site manager of the Lyle Center.

A scarecrow stands his ground as he guards the Lyle Center’s precious produce. (Elizabeth Hernandez | The Poly Post)

Sunny Southern California bestows 12 months without frost, which makes it easier to grow crops. Even in the winter, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, beets and various citrus fruits flourish.

With the CSA program and environmental workshops, the Lyle Center engages with the Pomona community.

“I like the idea of helping communities in need,” said Pablo La Roche, interim director of the John T. Lyle Center. “Regenerative studies is about helping the environment and understanding all its components.”

The Lyle Center was recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 2017.

According to an announcement on the ASLA’s website, the Lyle Center received the Community Service Award for “educating the Pomona community of renewable resources and serving as an example of sustainable architecture.”

The Lyle Center is a living, breathing model of sustainable architecture that is constantly evolving.

Landscape architecture, agriculture and architecture students will work together to complete an entrance pavilion that will provide a cool, shaded area used to provide information on the center and will also double as a sundial.

Every component of the center plays a role in the ecosystem, from the tires used as planters, to the solar panels that, like sunflowers, tilt to follow the sunlight.

The idea of a Center for Regenerative Studies began with John T. Lyle in the 1970s during his time as a landscape architect at Cal Poly Pomona.

The first phase of building the center took place in 1992 after years of renewable design research, curriculum planning and acquiring generous donations, allowing Lyle’s conserving concepts to come to life.

Completed in 1994, the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies has become the heartbeat of sustainability on campus, bringing students of various majors together to learn about ecological practices and conduct projects that will benefit future generations.

Rainbow chard is plentiful and is often included in the Lyle Center’s weekly harvests. (Elizabeth Hernandez | The Poly Post)

Faculty and students connect with nature in the most intimate ways as they enter class through walkways shaded by grapevines and perform research in the grass-lined ponds.

The program has evolved from a group of 20 students to providing a two-year master’s program, five general education courses available for all majors and the only regenerative studies minor in the CSU system.

“[The Lyle Center] is a very special place,” La Roche said. “It is important that people understand that.”

The John T. Lyle Center will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019 with exhibits and speakers planned throughout the year.

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