March 15, 2009
Dan Clost is a LO member who writes a weekly column, The Good Earth, for The Shield EMC group of newspapers. His recent column contained some positive words after visiting Congress 2009. A founding member of the Upper Canada Chapter, Clost has been treasurer, newsletter publisher, and served on the education committee. Currently his LO volunteer work is judging at the Kemptville site for CHT testing. He is the nursery supervisor and trade accounts supervisor for Connon Nurseries, CBV at the Trenton site.
With Dan’s permission we re-print his column on the pages of
Horticulture Review.

Recently, I spent three days at Landscape Ontario’s Congress, the best horticulture trade show in Canada. It is held at the Toronto Congress Centre drawing in more than 12,000 visitors who view 600 exhibits, participate in more than 50 seminars, check out close to 250 new products and learn a bit in the Green Forum. We also celebrate our members with an Awards of Excellence ceremony, take care of business with the AGM (which can be a lively session especially when you consider the members are independent business owners accustomed to making decisions with a consensus of one), let our hair down at Tailgate, meet our friends, and most important—learn.

If you’re a working member of the green trade and you didn’t go to this show, make a note in your daytimer to be there in 2010. For you media types who write about gardening, same advice. You will see, first-hand, what the sharp edge of the green trade shovel is digging into. Tie that in with the other Landscape Ontario (LO) trade show, Garden Expo, where the retail trade meets to decide what will be offered to the public and you’ll be many steps ahead of your journalist counterparts. Visit yet one more LO show, Canada Blooms, and you get a synopsis of the entire year before it happens.

Why do I feel it important to tell you this, Gentle Reader? First and foremost, it is essential that you understand that Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association is a volunteer-run organization. Currently we have more than 2,300 members; it’s the largest trade association of its kind on the entire planet. Its mission is to be the leader in representing, promoting and fostering a favourable environment for the advancement of the horticultural industry in Ontario. What that translates to is the members have decided to work together to improve all aspects of the business so that everyone benefits, especially homeowners.

So when you see a landscaper’s truck with the LO logo on it, you know you have a dedicated professional who is working to improve his or her industry. They have voluntarily agreed to conduct themselves following a specific Code of Ethics.

Second, this show brings together all the elements of horticulture in one place. Want to know what sort of plants your local nursery will have? All of the big players in the growing side are there: stone products, including the newest manufactured offerings. Tons of it. How green is the greenest industry? A complete section of the show and a separate stage were dedicated to this.

A few years ago, LO was doing some soul searching trying to determine its place in the grand scheme of things. One of the members said something along the lines that when LO is important to me in my community, then it is relevant. Well, GR, Quinte West shows that to be true. During the AGM’s “I like us” slide show highlighting the important events of 2008, Tammy and Dan of Quinte Footcare Clinic were up on the big screen accepting the Commercial Beautification Award. Our area has more than 50 accredited members of LO (through the Upper Canada Chapter) not counting those who are allied members of the trade. LO is relevant to us (you and me) and it is to our benefit that we actively seek out those members when the occasion calls.

Do I, personally, agree with all of the stances that LO takes? No, I don’t. This is a big industry with many perspectives and ideologies represented, which of course can make for some vigorous meetings. However, as you might have worked out, I truly believe it to be a proper trades association that will only bring benefits to us all.