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A New Landscape for a Fresh Start
SLO Charity Gets a Facelift

By Andrew Soto, LCDBM editor


Madrone Landscape, community volunteers and students from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, came together to donate their time and labor installing a complete landscape for a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a home for the less fortunate. The build team and volunteers installed shade trees, an orchard, a vegetable garden, screening and a native plant pallet.

Madrone Landscapes, out of Atascadero Calif., designed, coordinated and installed a complete landscape for the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO). ECHO is a non-profit organization with a 50-bed transitional shelter helping families and individuals find permanent housing within three months of entering the facility. The organization is located on the central coast of California serving North San Luis Obispo County.

Madrone's general manager, Daniel Mazawa, led the charge on this project by helping schedule two volunteer days on two consecutive weekends. With the help of Cal Poly professor Christie O'Hara, 60 volunteers transformed the space into an aesthetically pleasing and functional landscape.

"It is unique to get so many people from different backgrounds together who are coordinated and committed to finding a common ground focused on helping others," said Mazawa.

A quarter acre of fruit trees including apples, peaches, plums and figs were installed to help residents of ECHO feel connected to nature. A raised vegetable garden was also installed to encourage residents and community members to visit the site.


Before work could get underway on this project, Madrone staff had to prepare the site for volunteers ahead of time. For a week prior to the installation, the landscape crew brought in a tractor grader to level the soil and prepare it for irrigation. The work was split into two consecutive weekends allowing volunteers the opportunity to give back at times convenient for people who work during the week.

"It is a profound thing for someone without a home to have," said Mazawa. "Fresh fruits and vegetables in a landscape meant to instill a sense of community is a great way for people to get a fresh start."

To prepare the site for volunteer work, Madrone's build team had to grade and level the area before the irrigation and plant pallet could be installed. This work was done completely at the expense of the landscape firm. Donated irrigation parts, soil amendments and mulches were used in conjunction with donated labor. All materials and time were donated including $3,200 worth of plants, provided by Madrone Landscape.

This project was met with enthusiasm from the community and the city of Atascadero. Once the final touches of the project were complete, the entire community welcomed the new ECHO facility landscape with open arms.

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, April 2017 Off the Clock.

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March 26, 2019, 4:13 am PDT

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