Volunteer Workday at SLO Botanical Garden

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

October 24, 2023

Volunteers from PG&E, the Northern Chumash Tribe and the SLO Botanical Garden pose for a photo before starting a workday at the Botanical Garden’s ‘Weaving and Restoration Garden’ as it was called before the name was changed to ‘yaktitib’u,’ which we’re told means ‘People’s Place of Roots’ in Chumash. Photos courtesy PG&E 

Pacific Gas & Electric employees teamed up with the local Native Americans for a volunteer workday, Sept. 30 at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden.

The sizable work crew — with PG&E and Botanical Garden volunteers and the yak tityu tityu (“ytt Chumash”) Tribe — began the cleanup and transformation of one of the Botanical Garden’s evolving exhibition gardens, one dedicated to the traditions of local Native Americans, expending a lot of sweat equity into helping beautify a small piece of the larger Botanical Garden.

This happy young man working on one of the garden’s trails is a relative of PG&E employees Xia Cha and Mae Cha (sorry, we didn’t get his name).

An area formerly known as the “Weaving and Restoration Garden,” got a new name, “yaktitib’u” which we’re told means, “People’s Place of Roots” in Chumash, according to an article in the Botanical Garden’s newsletter. 

The job was celebrated with “a moving dedication ceremony and the start of a big facelift.” It also included installation of interpretive signage regarding the exhibit.

The Botanical Garden thanked PG&E’s Teresa Alcarado, Maureen Zawalick and Eric Daniels “for making this support possible, as well as to the incredible team of PG&E employees and family members who turned out in the rain to volunteer — and worked hard to make a big difference in just a few hours.”

They also thanked Chumash Tribe members Mona Olivas Tucker, Scott Lathrop, Kelsey Shaffer “and other members of the ytt Northern Chumash Tribe for supporting this project with their deep cultural expertise. Our continued collaboration will result in an incredibly special resource at the garden for education and celebration.”

The area is intended “to pay tribute to the Chumash people and provide space for lessons and learning about plants and animals of the area,” PG&E said. “The plan calls for updating the design and plan of the garden, removing invasive plants, planting new native plants of importance to the Chumash people, laying trail material, installing interpretive signs, and erecting ceremonial stones.”

Other volunteers from Cal Poly and the general community also came out that day and worked in other areas of the garden staining benches, updating the trails and pathways, planting, and more. 

Children had the fun job of painting rock borders and tending to the vegetables growing in the Children’s Garden.

The expectation is that by Spring 2024, these plantings will have filled in, meanwhile, Garden visitors can stroll down the path, located behind the Children’s Garden, to see all the progress that’s been made.

The SLO Botanical Garden is located in El Chorro Regional Park off Hwy 1 across from Cuesta College. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (gift shop hours vary). See: https://slobg.org for complete details about the Botanical Garden including a schedule of upcoming special events and donation information.

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