May 15, 2017
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

As part of the green profession you provide enormous benefits. Not only do you make landscapes look good, your work helps raise the value of your customers’ surroundings economically, environmentally and socially.

You are in the quality of life business. You are also in the legacy business. Your work outlasts you. Your efforts can produce joy, happiness, awe and wonder for generations of people of every age. You make the world a better place. You are (as others have described) a steward of nature, a member of a green force for beauty and a life enhancer. You are also a contributor.

Contributing to communities

Members of the green profession are known for their community contributions. Recently, I was fortunate to be in the audience at an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing in Hamilton. A zoning lawyer and a professional planner were making the case for evicting 61 of our member’s businesses because of rigid zoning rules. It was a serious threat. One by one, our members stepped up to the podium and told their story. They were all very similar. The thread tying them together was community contribution. Each person was engaged in making their community better.

Brad Paton, CLT, owner of Shades of Summer Landscaping & Maintenance talked about pride of place and how he has markedly improved his property since moving in. His neighbours love what he has done. His business is part of the community. There are very few complaints.

James Feenstra, owner of Millgrove Perennials, made his case for local economic impact as landscape companies purchase their supplies and services close to home. He talked about local jobs generated. The environment is also improved as garden waste is converted into soil-enriching compost on agricultural properties. Small acreages are perfect for the horticulture profession. In addition, the community contribution from his local landscape customers is enormous and important.

Phil Zylstra, owner of Growing Gardens, talked about his involvement with the local public school, soccer association and other community groups. His company generates employment for many local residents (including the neighbours children) who don’t have to travel far to get to work. Growing Gardens has also put many employees through university.

Jamie Holmes from Crimson Leaf Landscaping talked about the many improvements he has made to his property. Many trees have been planted, berms constructed and rural land has allowed him to turn garden waste into compost. He has a great relationship with his neighbours. He sponsors local sports team and supports local parks and service groups.

Trevor Topolinski, operations manager at Topper’s Enterprises, is a contributor to his community as well. Trevor uses local suppliers and hires local talent. He is a long-time resident. His neighbours don’t complain.
Deborah Shelton from Outdoor Life Landscaping is also heavily involved with community building. She participates in school board activities and employs local people.

Craig Gaynor, owner of Evergreen Landscapes talked about his community involvement with a local youth centre. He has never received a complaint from neighbours and his business employs many people.
Tammi Perrault from Green Collar Landscaping also spoke about the many improvements she made to her land and her community.

Members of the green profession specialize in beautifying the environment and enhancing lives of their customers and community. In the end, the OMB was persuaded and 61 of our members can now breathe easier as a result.

What struck me most about the experience is how involved our members are in improving and enhancing the quality of life. This contribution ethic has been inspiring our home office staff for many years. We are continually impressed with the many community projects our members and chapters undertake.

Highway of Heroes Living Tribute

One of our most important projects is the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute (see for details).

The values and goals of this campaign resonate with members of the public. In late April, over 1,000 volunteers came out to Downsview Park in Toronto to plant trees.

Many of you have contributed cash, labour, trees, mulch and soil. Your generosity has allowed us to plant thousands of trees, but we have many more to go. Our goal is to plant 2 million trees on both sides of Highway 401 from Trenton to Toronto, to recognize the sacrifice of all those who have died for our country. This project will help generations to remember the high cost of war and peace. To me, this is a sacred project and we need the help of every one of you to make it happen. Here are some ways you can help:
  • Engage your customers and employees. Let them know about this amazing idea. Ask them to promote the project to their friends, family and network. The more people learn, the more likely they will be to help.
  • Consider buying a tree for every one of your customers or employees as a celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.
  • Adopt the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute as one of your company fund-raising activities.
  • Use the Highway of Heroes logo on your letterhead and email signature; helping us to spread the word.
  • Volunteer for one of the community tree plantings.
  • Contribute in-kind labour and products.
  • Connect us with potential donors.
  • Give us your advice and ideas on how to realize this wonderful project.

Our goal is to raise $20 million in cash and in-kind donations. Contact me if you can help.
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at