For nearly two decades The Land Conservancy has labored to keep the Octagon Barn alive as an essential part of our community fabric. For a time, there were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Octagon Barn was mentioned at board meetings or membership events. Why was a county land trust that specialized in restoration and conservation easements even involved with restoring a historic dairy barn, let alone spearheading the effort to revive it? Wasn’t the Barn a prime example of “mission drift”?
Thankfully the current vision of the Octagon Barn Center as a central gathering place that embodies the core elements of The Land Conservancy’s mission: the permanent protection and enhancement of scenic, agricultural, habitat and cultural lands all the while connecting people and the community.
The Barn will provide six acres of open space at the gateway to the City of San Luis Obispo with native plants and outdoor trails surrounding one of the nation’s most unique agricultural landmarks. The site will serve as the trailhead for the long-awaited Bob Jones City-to-Sea Trail and a centralized hub for the entire regional network of bike paths. With thoughtfully designed exhibits, events, and on-site features (nature trail, wetland overlook, demonstration plantings, historic dairy displays, etc.), the Octagon Barn Center will provide an interactive opportunity for The Land Conservancy to educate and inspire visitors like never before.
“We see the Octagon Barn Center as essential in making The Land Conservancy a household name in San Luis Obispo County and to sharing our conservation message with the broadest audience possible. The Barn will attract people that otherwise may not have interacted with The Land Conservancy, like wedding guests or film festival attendees,” said B.K. Richard, Board Trustee
With well over a million dollars worth of labor and materials invested in its loving restoration, reconstruction, and revitalization since 1996, the Octagon Barn is poised to open for community use in 2017. We aim to break ground on an updated water system this summer, and our partners at the County of San Luis Obispo have scheduled construction of the required turn lane and parking lot. These efforts are supported in large part by a grant from the California Natural Resources Agency’s Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program and nearly $3 million worth of work from the County. However, we must raise $550,000 in order to open the Octagon Barn Center. This includes the transformation of the crude Milking Parlor into a sustainable demonstration building to serve as a community meeting place and education center. And don’t forget the handful of dedicated Barn Committee volunteers that make all the work possible.
Our hope is that the community becomes excited about the project and that individual donors and community service groups will support half of our fundraising goal. The remaining half is expected to come from government funds and grants.
The completion of the Octagon Barn Center is one of the top goals in our 2013-2018 Strategic Plan and is a key project of the larger Heart & Soil Campaign. But more than that, the Octagon Barn Center is sure to become one of the most beloved iconic landmarks along the Central Coast. For more info on the Octagon Barn, click here.