July 6, 2021
Jacki Hart This month, I decided to take a look in the rear view mirror to explain the many benefits of membership in Landscape Ontario. Most recently, we have all benefited from the tireless work of LO’s COVID-19 Task Force and the staff team behind them. I’m sure there’s no doubt in your minds as to why you are, and will continue to be, a member of LO.

The past 15 months have been challenging, stressful, and very frustrating. But what would that journey have been like without the support of the LO community? When I talk to business owners in other professions, I feel sorry for them because they don’t have an association like LO — armed with proactive resources, to guide them through the COVID maze.

When I reflect on the vast array of topics and resources discussed online in the past 15 months by LO Peer To Peer Network members, I realize this community is invaluable. Over that time, there’s been deep and sincere peer mentorship, peer support, and an incredible bond that continues to this day. There are many business owners who need our support.

Peer Network members came together last spring twice each week for Zoom meetings in order to connect, see each other, hear advice from coaches, leaders, specialists and more. There were tears, frustration, and a “we can DO this — we’ve got each others’ backs” mentality. Many have made the time to thank me for making a space for them to stay connected and for facilitating hope in rough times. (They even nominated me for the LO Leadership Award. Thank you!)

Our network grew by almost a hundred new members last spring/summer, and it’s still growing.

Some new members don’t stay engaged. Others pop in to post a question now and then, and others monitor the private Facebook lounge daily to see the groups’ latest questions and answers. The exchanges of this online community are invaluable: tricks of the trade, tested sources for unusual materials, trustworthy sources for equipment, advice on managing tough customers and surly employees, words of wisdom, insurance details and so much more.

When I started up my landscape business in Muskoka back in 1991, I did all the heavy lifting — and I did it alone. I had to figure out how to make a profit and keep myself from imploding under the pressure of running a young landscape business. And then I found LO.

It was then I learned how valuable connections and mentorship are, not to mention the resources that helped build my network of industry professionals who are always willing to support me and answer my questions with honesty.

I’ve always been amazed and grateful for the way in which professionals like you are willing to share knowledge so that others can succeed and better the profession as a whole.

Having started as a clerk in a garden centre, who moved on to run a successful landscape company, then sold it to settle on becoming an industry business coach, I’m grateful for the thread of professional inspiration LO has weaved throughout the twists and turns of my career. I’m grateful to be a part of something bigger than what I alone can contribute. Something that has momentum, adapts to current reality, is nimble and forward thinking.

We have an amazing community for mutual benefit and improvement. We have amazing members. We are a “Landscape Nation” as the ED of the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association once declared after I presented a professional development report to a meeting of the nine landscape associations bordering the Great Lakes. At the time, I was treasurer of LO and proud to realize that we were so much more active and stable than our American counterparts.

If there was ever a year that proved how our ‘Landscape Ontario Nation’ stands behind its members, leading tireless initiatives to keep us all informed, supported, compliant and connected, it’s the year just passed. I am grateful for each and every one of the LO staff. They are the glue that holds us together. They are second to none as a team of dedicated and creative collaborators. They have pivoted, adapted and soared through new technology and new ways of doing business — all for the benefit of members.

So, to our ‘LO Nation’ (members and staff alike), I’m grateful for you. You have supported my career success in countless ways. You have helped guide and support my friends and colleagues, you have shown true leadership in times of despair and trouble. Thank you.

And, if you’re not yet a member of LO’s Peer To Peer Network Member (it’s free with LO membership),  you’re missing out on a huge added value program. Sign up today via

Landscape Ontario member business owners can join the LO Peer to Peer Network for free.
To participate in private online discussions, email  signup.peer2peer@landscapeontario.com

Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager