April 1, 2019
Students and pros promote career paths at Canada Blooms
Harry Gelderman (left) works with Mohawk College Apprentices during a pre-build at the college.
Mohawk College apprentices showcased their skills and talent by teaming up with Gelderman Landscape Services (GLS) to create a feature garden at Canada Blooms 2019.

Level one and two Horticultural Technician Red Seal Apprentices cut and installed paving stones, constructed a wood pergola, planted trees and shrubs and more to create the “Heirs of Horticulture” feature garden at the country’s largest garden and flower festival, which ran March 7-18 at the Enercare Centre in Toronto.

The group of some 30 apprenticeship students were led by program instructors, Terry Murphy, Harry Gelderman, Andrew McCarty and Spencer McCansen. Designed by GLS landscape designer, Chelsea Mills, the garden was created with support from Landscape Ontario and the Government of Ontario.

While the project gave students a chance to work as a team and learn new skills, its goal was also to inspire visitors to the festival and to highlight the many career paths the profession has to offer.

“It’s been a challenge for a long time for landscaping to be seen as a serious industry and a career by the public,” explains Harry Gelderman, Mohawk College instructor and GLS landscape design and sales manager. “The apprenticeship program and being a red seal trade can really make a difference to educate people that there are great career opportunities in landscaping.”

Gelderman added, “And the program is valuable to both the students who get involved, because it provides a pathway to advance their career, as well as to employers because we get more knowledgeable and skilled staff.”
Gelderman works with apprentices in the classroom as well as in the field with his business, and he sees firsthand the difference it makes.

“I really believe it’s important to promote the educational opportunities in our profession,” Gelderman said. “Yes, we can teach you in the field, but it’s not enough. You do need the technical training as well as the classroom learning to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it a certain way.”

During Canada Blooms, visitors received handouts that outlined the benefits of apprenticeship.

“Apprenticeship programs are post-secondary programs that support the development of individuals who want to pursue a career in a trade profession, including the Horticultural Technician program,” the handouts stated. “The Horticultural Technician Red Seal program provides apprentices with a mix of on-the-job training and mentorship, combined with in-school experiential learning at local colleges. From the design through to construction, students worked first hand with instructors, (some of whom are employer sponsors), to take the landscape plan and build it for all to enjoy at Blooms. The skills and knowledge passed onto these students by their instructors and employers, will enable the creation of many gardens and landscapes that will remain as legacies for communities far in to the future.”

The Heirs of Horticulture was supported by: Permacon, Niagara Pallet, Turf Care, Illumicare, Sheridan Nurseries, and Select Stone.

Student garden builders

Alex Batey
Amanda Goddard
Amanda Murray
Brent Wursten
Bryan Jamieson
Carey Huffman
Carter McGregor
Collin O’Sullivan
Dan Wanders
Danielle Orlando
David Rustenburg
Derek Goodwin
Ethan Brandt
Jacob Hansen
Jacob Mark
Jacob McKendry
Jayden Petter
Jesse Hancock
John Michael Annibale
Neil Roth
Nicole Ponte
Paul Yoshioka
Ronna-Lee Orlando
Stephen Moore
Sydney Caerels
Thomas VanAmerongen
Tristan Collins
Tyler Maciulis