The owner of a sizable ranch in Arroyo Grande is donating his property to Cal Poly for agricultural use “into perpetuity,” marking one of the largest land gifts to the university in the history of the campus.
Stuart and Jan Bartleson will be signing over the deed on Monday to give about 450 acres of their 500-acre ranch to Cal Poly.
The property is worth an estimated $11.5 million, according to Stuart Bartleson, who said he wanted to set up the ranch for future educational agriculture use for students.
“With the donation, this will make it so that students from all over the world will be able to come and learn here,” Bartleson said. “We wanted to make sure it stays as ag land into perpetuity. I’m so pleased this has worked out so well.”
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Bartleson said he bought the ranch in 1985 when it was a feed lot. He currently grows lemons and avocados there and says Cal Poly will be able to grow other agricultural crops, such as strawberries. Bartleson has grown other produce, including peaches, in the past.
The property is across Highway 101 from Laetitia Winery and Vineyards at 1950 Los Berros Road. The site has three homes and a couple of barns.
Jan Bartleson said her husband had been considering the donation for “quite some time” and that they have developed a good relationship with the university, donating nursery stock in the past.
“He has been talking about it for a long time,” Jan Bartleson said. “This really came about over the past six months. We had a very good friend who also gave gifts to Cal Poly.”
Cal Poly also owns a 3,200-acre property, Swanton Pacific Ranch, in Santa Cruz County.
Stuart and Jan Bartleson have a home in Santa Maria and will still live there but will visit the ranch and help Cal Poly with the ownership transition.
The couple has eight children between them, who are “well taken care of,” Stuart Bartleson said, and who have been supportive of the donation.
“The family is enthusiastic about this,” Jan Bartleson said.
The Bartleson said they foresee groups of students using the property for courses and projects, as well as for employment since students currently work for Cal Poly in growing crops.
“It really makes sense, particularly because this ranch is in San Luis Obispo County and not too far away from campus,” Stuart Bartleson said.