November 26, 2019
Editor's note: The following letter was received from David Swaby, second year horticulture student at Seneca College in King City, Ont.

"There is a story to tell as to why I am in the landscaping and horticulture industry. It began with my mother who was from the rural Jamaica, her father was a land owner and farmer. He had many fruit trees and he cultivated sugar cane. Farming played a major role in her way of life as a young girl. She got married and moved to a town where she secured a job working for the government, but even though she lived in the town she would still continue to practice farming. She planted lots of vegetables and flowers in her many gardens over the years. After the death of her father, the farm he owned suffered greatly as there was no one to take over. In an effort to support her mother and younger siblings, she took over the farm. She would reap fruits from the trees to take back to the town and sell. As a young child, I would always go along with my mother when she went to harvest the produce at the farm, I would always collect seedlings of fruit trees to take with us to sell in town as well.

"This is where my passion for nature began to blossom and as I grew older, it was clear the direction that I wanted to take. As a youth, I was good with my hands, so after finishing high school I went to a training institution and I did a program for maintenance and horticulture at hotel properties. Part of the training there was a co-op work component to the program which allowed me to work at a hotel. After I had completed the co-op on the job training at the hotel, they offered me a job on the spot, which I accepted after graduation. I started as a relief worker, then moved to the lawn care crew. Soon after that I was promoted and put in charge of my own area. In this area I performed very well because of my propagation skills and I was able to transform the area into a beautiful, lush garden.

"Soon after I was transferred to the greenhouse where I could put my propagation skills to full use. At the time they did not have a lot of plants in that area, so the hotel would constantly be buying new plants to fill the space. I went to work organizing the area and after a while I realized that I could do so much more, so I sat down with management and told them my vision for the greenhouse area. They agreed. I installed an apex roof shade cloth house with its own irrigation system and a single poly plastic house. With these improvements we were able to produce most of the plants the hotel needed.

"I learned of an opportunity to travel to the United States of America to work at a hotel. I applied and I was accepted. I was hired as a gardener Not long after that I got my driver’s license in order to get transferred to the lawn care crew that was in need of drivers. The management was aware of my maintenance skills in plumbing and electrical installation and I was promptly promoted to the position of irrigation technician. This is where I first started to learn about computers as the irrigation system was completely computerized. I was so fascinated with computers that I bought my own computer system along with a printer and took it back to Jamaica with me went my work term expired.

"I returned to my landscaping job and started a side business with the computer system. My wife and I realized our business was growing very quickly which required more of my time, so I resigned from my landscaping job and started working full-time in the printing business. Even though I was working full-time in the printing business I did side jobs in landscaping. Having been partially out of the landscaping and horticulture industry for 20 years, I have now decided to return. I enrolled in the environmental landscape management course at Seneca College, with an emphasis on sustainable landscape management practices for the time that we are living in with global warning on the rise."

— David Swaby

David Swaby was also recognized by the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation with the Horst Dicket Memorial Scholarship for 2019.