Partner Profile: Red Frog Compost Teas

Partner Profile: Red Frog Compost Teas

A long-time Madrone Landscapes partner, Red Frog Compost Teas specializes in compost tea for soil and plant health. They ship worm castings, compost teas, and hydroponic and compost tea aerators/air stones nationwide and service farmers and gardeners around the world.

Owner Erik Gorham initially started the business to find natural fertilizer that would help his garden vegetables grow. His goal was to pack as many nutrients as possible into the fertilizer, helping “turbo-charge” his garden and ensuring the plants could use the soil nutrients. He met his goal, and soon people wanted to buy the product.

Soil cycle

Red Frog manufactures the compost tea blends with 24-26 superior ingredients, including worm castings, alfalfa meal, rock dust, Alaskan forest humus, kelp meal, volcanic ash, and amino acids to feed the soil’s bacteria and fungus. Humus and compost products further add to the microbial content to give plants the very best food sources. Red Frog’s line of compost teas includes a Premium Blend, Vegetable Blend, Bloom Blend, and mineralized and aged compost. The company produces all of these products in Templeton.

Red Frog has partnered with Madrone for almost as long as the company has been in business. “From the beginning, we’ve had a very close relationship,” explains owner Erik Gorham. He appreciates the culture that founder Rick Mathews and general manager Daniel Mazawa have created and values their feedback.

In addition to owning Red Frog, Erik also works as Madrone’s operations manager. Because Madrone was drawn to a natural way to promote healthy landscapes, Erik began working with the team to fine-tune his tea blends. He invited Rick’s input on the details and development of the product. “Madrone has given me a place to test things. I get to see how our products are working on a daily basis. It’s nice to get that feedback from Madrone and their customers.”

Compost tea application

Red Frog and Madrone regularly collaborate on a variety of projects and programs to promote healthy habitats for humans to exist. It stems from the business philosophy of both companies to treat all clients, vendors, employees, and the environment with the utmost respect.

Partnership with One Cool Earth: Updating Atascadero Outdoor Classrooms

Partnership with One Cool Earth: Updating Atascadero Outdoor Classrooms

Late in 2019, Madrone partnered with One Cool Earth, a non-profit organization that creates garden-based school programs. We committed crews to improve and maintain gardens at six Atascadero School District schools. Shortly after our discussion, the entire program was put on pause as schools employed health and safety measures.

As kids head back to campus this month, Madrone has been busily preparing the outdoor classroom sites. Our team worked on each garden used for One Cool Earth’s Earth Genius program, rejuvenating and preparing the sites for a new school year. From mulching and weed abatement to repairing hardscape, we spent a few days ensuring that each school can rely on a garden space that will enrich them throughout the year. One Cool Earth educators can now visit each week and rely on a revitalized garden to teach about nutrition and the environment.

Madrone and One Cool Earth share and reinforce one another’s values: giving back, stewardship, and innovation. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.

 

Partner Profile: SiteOne Landscape Supply

Partner Profile: SiteOne Landscape Supply

This is a state-of-the-art irrigation valve manifold installation for Hotel SLO to supply irrigation for planters on 5 levels from ground level to balconies to roof.

Evan Moffitt

Evan Moffitt, CLT, CLIA, PCA, at SiteOne Landscape Supply, has been working with Madrone for over four years, delivering everything from irrigation and pavers to lighting. Evan and SiteOne are reliable partners for anything we might need for our landscapes, assisting us on over one hundred projects for varying clients and spaces.

SiteOne offers a comprehensive selection of top-brand landscape supplies, from irrigation to lighting, throughout North America. “We carry nearly everything Madrone would need, so its about getting what they want,” said Evan. After so long working together, we know exactly how they deliver, and they know what we order. Being able to count on their services has come as a huge boon time and time again.

When it comes to philosophies we share, we both work hard to deliver our services on time, valuing urgency and good communication when it comes to others’ time and work. “We understand each other very well,” said Moffitt. “They have a great team culture. A lot of people there work well together, they have a great support and management team to get the projects done, and they communicate well.”

While SiteOne doesn’t always have the opportunity to get out to the site and see the results of their reliable supply, we know our work benefits majorly from their ethics and consistency. We’re grateful for the many years we’ve worked together to develop landscapes of which we’re proud.

 

Hotel SLO’s planters, on 5 levels from ground level to balconies to roof, are supplied irrigation by a state-of-the-art irrigation valve manifold. See above.

Partner Profile: Rojas Enterprise

Partner Profile: Rojas Enterprise

Robert Rojas, the owner of Rojas Enterprise, is a licensed contractor with over 20 years of experience. Primarily offering concrete and masonry services, Rojas assists Madrone Landscapes with hardscaping. He and his team can be relied upon to enhance projects with everything from decorative patios and walkways to custom project features, outdoor fireplaces, and sound structural retaining walls. By incorporating stains, polishes, and decorative stamps, Rojas’ work is much more than just concrete and masonry.

The Rojas team has been working with Madrone Landscapes for over 15 years, where they have completed over 200 projects together. The longevity of the partnership can be mainly attributed to both companies’ dedication to client satisfaction and integrity of their workmanship. “The most important thing to me is making sure the client is happy with the final product,” explained Rojas. He also credited the long working relationship to Madrone’s professionalism. “The team at Madrone is easy to work with, not only because they are good people, but because they provide clear direction with their procedures and schedules.”

Out of all of the projects that the Rojas/Madrone teams have collaborated on, Rojas is particularly proud of a project where they created a stamped, circular pad for a fireplace. Its compass feature was skillfully cut into the concrete and stained to enhance the features.

Finding Inspiration in the 2020s

Finding Inspiration in the 2020s

From a California Landscape Designer in the Pandemic

By Daniel Mazawa, General Manager

All of us are looking for something, and sometimes inspiration is all we need. At our design-build landscape construction company in the beautiful San Luis Obispo County of California, we are an inspired group that deal tranquility and beauty as our fare. One of the downsides to caring so much about landscapes is that we are a little snobby about our profession, cringing at the demeaning term of “landscaping” as a shrub-it-up afterthought. Now in the midst of 2020, we find ourselves a little lost, like everyone in the pandemic, on how to keep the stoke up and do what we do best.

We work from home now, remoting into our CAD production softwares with the amazing technologies that allow us to keep working safely among the ever more cautious world. We have everything we need on paper, work to do, people to do it, and eloquent technology. But something is missing.

Designing landscapes in a self-imposed echo chamber can be a lonely and frustrating process. We are finding the need to reinvent our methods to get a dose of inspiration from the world without the in-person team comradery of the now defunct design studio. Limitations have forced us to look within ourselves to find new sparks of inspiration.

Acceptance

At some point we have all settled on some level of acceptance; we can’t just go back and pretend nothing happened. We can reminisce about the way it used to be: the morning greeting to a group of co-workers turned friends, high-fiving when we get a contract signed, and sitting shoulder to shoulder working out a plan problem. But clinging to the way it was is no way to find inspiration, and at some point we need to evolve into our new reality.

Embrace the Tools

Technology is always colder than true human interaction, from emails to video conferencing. We all put on the smile to try to keep everyone else’s spirits up, but like looking at a photo of a good memory, we just wish we were there.

That being said, a 90% feeling of human interaction is still something. We can keep it light, talk about how we are doing, bring up silly jokes like we would if we walked by someone’s desk, or talk about something cool we found. We tend to focus on the business at hand in a video conference meeting, but being ourselves and making idle chit chat is what opens us up to finding inspiration. In fact, I was inspired to write this piece by just asking my fellow designers, what do you do when you get stuck on a design? I was inspired by the answers.

Zoom Out

The literal nature of our video conferencing software is to “Zoom” in to the little boxes with talking heads and focus on the task at hand. Sitting at a computer all day can be a strain on the eyes as well as the search for inspiration. Get up! Walk around, look outside, go outside, see what’s going on out there! I find a lot of inspiration in my garden. A 10 minute break to go prune some tomato plants can break the inspiration block, allowing me to unintentionally brainstorm my work with free mind while performing an idle task with my hands. Not to mention the feeling of the sun, the sounds of the birds, and the smell of the tomato vine. You can take this further by walking your neighborhood, taking a hike or driving around the town. Being a landscape designer, it is impossible to turn off the manufacturing of stoke from visual stimuli, sometimes we just need to get out of our own way.

You can also embrace the internet to find inspiration from the comfort of your own chair. One of our all-star designers, Megan Savage, keyed us into looking at real-estate websites. It is a great way to look at homes or properties from the perspective of the consumer. So often we are looking at construction details or diagrams, and it is eye-opening to just see landscapes from the eye of someone looking to buy a property. The access allows us to look at very nice properties with professional photography, and the perspective allows us to zoom out and react, “wow that is a peaceful setting!” Undoubtably, we will see something that emulates the vibe we want to create in our design, and we will change our design from the new inspiration. For planting design, looking at local California Central Coast landscapes gives us great ideas on plant material that will grow here.

Reach Out

In a design studio setting, we are right there next to inspired experts ready to help solve problems and give inspiration. At home, calling someone for what feels like a dumb question seems like an undue burden on the other, and that becomes the excuse to stay stuck in the mud. We have quickly found that everyone is in the same boat and getting a call is far from unwelcome. Reach out to those you work with early, often, and willingly. You also may have people you live with, or friends and family sitting home bored who would love a mundane question about a design, so they can feel valued and useful. You don’t need to be an expert to give a great perspective on a design solution!

Appreciation

This is it, folks! Here we are in it, so deal with it! Maybe the most important tool for inspiration is an internal perspective shift to appreciate what we have.

The wise Taylor Boyle once told me he loves being out working on the hottest day of the year, or being outside in the middle of a giant storm. Why? Because you can’t escape being present in the moment and that is truly living. With the current pandemic, I don’t mean to be stuck in the news or the happenings of the world, I mean be present in your home with your work at hand, in one of the greatest places to live (we are very lucky to live in San Luis Obispo County). We are lucky to be here in a place that surrounds us with natural beauty. We are lucky to have the space to be outside safely while many do not.

We can find inspiration all around us, and if we look a little closer with a freed-up mind, we can create inspiration from ourselves. Inspiration can be contagious… in a good way!