January 15, 2008
As green industry members, by definition, we are all environmentalists. Our day-to-day activities have positive influences upon the environment. However, with typical horticultural modesty, we aren’t very good about telling our story.

With the creation of Landscape Ontario’s Environment Stewardship committee, this is all about to change. The mandate of the committee is twofold:
  1. enhance environmental stewardship activities within the horticulture industry and help the green industry understand its significance and contribution with respect to the environment.
  2. raise public awareness of the environmental benefits from green industry activities.
Recognizing that we need to get our own house in order, as well as quantify our efforts before we start spreading the word to the public, the committee is working to develop an internal environmental audit procedure, or sustainable practices report card for all sectors of the green industry.

Environmental sustainability is an all-encompassing concept. The committee is beginning with generalities and working towards specifics. The first action involved meeting with each of the ten commodity groups to collect sector-specific feedback with respect to environmental issues and opportunities. Group members were asked to answer the questions, what are we doing that enhances environmental stewardship, and what issues are affecting the commodity from an environmental perspective? Once specific information is collected, it will be used to develop best-practice templates or report cards. The eventual goal is to create an eco-accreditation program that can be promoted to the public.

While the committee is still in its infancy, it has sifted through a lot of information. The major categories for the environmental report card are:
  1. Resource consumption: water, energy use, air quality
  2. Waste reduction and recycling: hazardous waste, solid waste, green waste, liquid waste
  3. Materials: technology and equipment
  4. Education: social awareness
The committee has taken these four criteria back to the commodity group members for discussion. What is each sector doing to support sustainability in these categories? How can these categories be measured or evaluated? What tools do we need?

The committee is chaired by Nathan Helder of Jan Gelderman Landscaping. Committee members include: Susan Antler, Compost Canada; Hugh Berry, John Deere; Thom Bourne, Nutri-Lawn Ottawa; Phil Bull, Greenleaf Gardening and Property Services; Connie Cadotte, Home and Garden Retreats; Sally Chapman Harvey, Green Design Landscaping; Len Hordyk, Dynascape; Tom Intven, Canadale Nurseries; Anthony Klampen, Boots Landscaping; John Lamberink, Aquality; Chris LeConte, Smart Watering; Jennifer Llewellyn, OMAFRA; Keith Osbourne, Gro-Bark; Ken Parker, Sweet Grass Gardens; Ted Spearing, Ground Covers Unlimited; Scott Terrio, John Deere; Ryan Van Haastrecht, Dr. Green Lawncare; Art Vanden Enden, Sheridan Nurseries; Alan White, Turf Systems; Victor Santacruz of CNLA and LO staff members Tony DiGiovanni and Sarah Willis.

Anyone with comments or questions about the committee is invited to contact Nathan Helder at nhelder@gelderman.com.