Horticultural Businessman Named Alumnus of the Year

October 30, 2023

A co-owner of a prominent Southern California horticultural company was named the Huntley College of Agriculture’s 2023 Distinguished Alumnus.

Michael Mellano (‘61, horticulture) was recognized by Cal Poly Pomona at an Oct. 21 gala at the Pacific Palms Resort in the City of Industry along with Distinguished Alumni honorees from other colleges.

Mellano’s Italian immigrant father began working in the Los Angeles Flower Market during the 1920s and then, along with his new wife, began flower farming in Los Angeles County in the early 1930s.

From those roots, Mellano and Co. became a top horticultural business with an international network of growers and distributors.

The company is a major source for traditional florists, internet delivery services, and the Tournament of Roses parade.

In addition, it is the grower for the Flower Fields in Carlsbad and manager for the L.A. Flower Market.

Mellano and his siblings worked for their father from the time they were young and all through high school and college.

During his time at Cal Poly Pomona, he first connected the family business with the Cal Poly Rose Float project by volunteering to work on the 1959 float.

Mellano became interested in plant pathology while at Cal Poly Pomona, and he went on to earn a doctorate in the subject from UC Riverside.

After mulling teaching job offers, Mellano accepted a proposal from his brother to come back and work for the family business, managing its expansion into San Diego County.

Now retired, he still serves as a consultant to the company, which is run by the third generation of family members.