June 2, 2023
Lisa Smith
Lisa Smith
Lisa Smith has been a pillar of Landscape Ontario’s Upper Canada Chapter since its inception over two decades ago. Smith has held multiple leadership roles within the chapter, and is no stranger to helping with the association’s Congress Trade Show and Awards of Excellence program. Smith says she “lives and breathes plants on a daily basis” at her job as wholesale trade desk supervisor at Connon Nurseries in Trenton, Ont., but she still finds time to volunteer with LO initiatives — especially when it means helping her community connect with nature.

How did you get involved in the landscaping and horticulture profession?

Smith: My love of the outdoors began at a very young age, when I would spend time with my grandmother out in her garden and hobby greenhouse. I will always remember the smell of the soil, transplanting itty bitty seedlings; it was so intoxicating! Growing up in the country, I played in the soil, picked fresh grown asparagus and ate apples straight from the fruit trees. Looking back now, I needed to be outdoors. So naturally, I was inclined to pursue horticulture in some form when the time was right.

Originally, I wanted to own my own florist business, but after meeting a wonderful professor during a brief orientation, I decided to keep my options wide open and chose the field of horticulture. I still took floral design as an elective, but I made sure to have a healthy cross section of knowledge. So, after high school, I had the pleasure of attending the historic Niagara College in St Catharines, Ont., graduating with my Diploma in Horticulture in 1994. After which, I successfully ran a small garden design and consultation business for eight years until life moved in a different direction. Little did I know, this was only the beginning of my future career in horticulture.

What are the various ways you volunteer with Landscape Ontario? How long have you been involved?

I have been involved off and on with the Upper Canada Chapter of Landscape Ontario since its inception 25 years ago; holding many different roles such as director, treasurer and secretary. (I even have a picture tucked away from the inaugural meeting held at Connon Nurseries Trenton). You may have seen me at Congress working a booth, helping decorate with Beth Edney for the Awards of Excellence ceremony, or even stuffing giveaway bags. Currently, I am the chapter president, and one of my greatest involvements so far was a chapter project we completed this past October at two schools within our community on the same day. It was ambitious, but with an amazing project manager [Rhonda Derue], it went off without a hitch. I think I walked a million miles that day, helping to plant 14 trees. I am so proud of all the work our members and volunteers did to make this happen!

What inspired you to commit your attention and talent to give back through these initiatives?

My love of horticulture is strong. On my days off, you will find me digging in my garden at home while trying to live harmoniously with the wildlife on three acres. I live and breathe plants at my job on a daily basis. There is just something joyful and heartwarming when you take a person by the hand and show them a tree that has unusual bark or leaves or perhaps a plant that's fragrance intoxicates the air they breathe; it's truly amazing to watch their expressions and share their newfound joy. How can you not SMILE! For some it could be their first visit to the garden centre or perhaps it's their last dying wish. You just never know. It's important to give back where possible and teach/ show the next generation of horticulturists or landscapers; leading by healthy example for the upcoming generation shows vision, excitement and continuity.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I would say my favourite part about volunteering is meeting new people community wide.

What advice do you have for people who may want to volunteer?

If you are going to volunteer, just jump right in with all four feet. You may only get your pinky toe wet the first day, but by the end, you will be swimming a marathon with others.