July 6, 2021
Chadwick Lewis
Chadwick Lewis
Chadwick Lewis, a recent horticulture industries graduate from Algonquin College, never grew up thinking he’d have a green career.

Originally from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, Lewis spent his early years working in sales and customer service. While his family owned farmland, he only became heavily invested in the industry after the passing of his uncle.

“Before [he passed], my uncle started a little kitchen garden for my mom,” remembers Lewis. “At some point, my mom mentioned something about the garden not looking good, how she wishes he was still here, and then it clicked.”

Lewis began maintaining the garden and quickly fell in love with plants — growing them, learning about them and making them beautiful.

“I decided that this is what I want to do. So I stepped away from all of that office work, and left the city to go and maintain our estate in the countryside,” says Lewis. “And since I was doing this, I wanted to make sure I was doing it properly.”

In preparation he got his farmer’s certification, bought a truck, bought land and at one point quit his job to pursue a future in horticulture. While he learned a lot — and more importantly grew to understand how the industry worked, he couldn’t help but feel like something was still missing.

“I had visited Canada many times — my dad lives there — so I was familiar with Algonquin [College] and I knew they had a horticulture program,” explains Lewis. “I figured, let me go there and see how it goes.”

A broad discipline that encompasses multiple streams, the horticulture industries program is an intensive one that exposes students to a wide variety of educational topics and potential careers.

“You get to work through the summer, so it’s constantly go, go, go. It really strengthens your character and builds a camaraderieship with the people who make it through the entire thing. It’s unshakeable,” says Lewis. “And although I had to do the leg work, it really was the lecturers at Algonquin that pointed me in the right direction. So, it’s a wonderful program and this is a beautiful industry in my opinion.”

The broad nature of Lewis’s studies is what enabled him to find his passion. While he began in hardscaping, due to his exposure to every corner in the horticulture industry, he pivoted toward plants. Currently, he works at a local community farm, Just Food Ottawa Community Garden, and runs a small urban farm and greenhouse partnership business, Green’s Creek Organic Nursery.

“So I stepped away from all of that office work, and left the city to go and maintain our estate in the countryside.”
— Chadwick Lewis

Looking back on his journey, Lewis admits he never had a clear cut plan. Instead, he urges people to simply be productive, stay patient and take hold of the opportunities that come their way.

“It started with my uncle, my mom missing him and the garden being there,” says Lewis. “Then it blossomed into me pulling at the thread: keep pulling, keep pulling, until something works out.”