March 15, 2024
Greg Schaafsma
Greg Schaafsma
Greg Schaafsma loves the outdoors, getting involved in the landscaping community and learning from like-minded people. These qualities make him stand out in the Landscape Ontario London Chapter volunteering space.

Schaafsma studied landscaping at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown College and spent 17 years in the nursery industry before starting at Grand River Natural Stone in London, Ont., where he has worked for 12 years.

He brought his wealth of experience in the profession to the London Chapter Board in 2019, serving as vice-president for three years, president and now acting as past- and vice-president, organizing events like the annual golf tournament, which he particularly enjoys.

What made you want to pursue landscaping and horticulture as a career?

My dad worked in a factory, and it wasn’t a great environment. I saw how he was, and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be outside working with my hands and working with plants. I’ve always been interested in growing plants and landscaping and doing all that kind of outdoor work. I had no interest in working in a factory.

What made you want to get involved with the London Chapter?

I wanted to be a little more involved in the community and the different projects that were going on within LO at the time. When I first got involved, they did the Veteran’s Memorial Gardens at HMCS Prevost in London, so I helped there. I was like, ‘oh this is interesting.’ I wanted to get more involved in that side of things — helping build gardens for the community, places where people can go and relax.

How were you involved in the community garden at Indwell Commons in London?

The Indwell community garden came around because Jay Murray from TLC Landscaping Design + Pools was involved with it, and he asked if the London Chapter could be involved as a group to build a garden at the new development. It was intriguing because what Indwell is doing is building low-income housing to get people off the street; it’s very good what they’re doing.

So, we helped with the garden portion of it, which lets the people there have a sense of peace. They can go out and relax in a nice garden area within the city. Our next project — if everything goes as planned — is we’re going to help with Hospice of Elgin to build outdoor garden spaces.

How did it feel to complete the Indwell project?

It felt good. It was a long time, there were a lot of setbacks with the whole pandemic and that, but it was nice to finally see everything completed. For it to be all done was a sense of achievement.

What do you enjoy the most about volunteering with the Chapter?

I just like being involved with other like-minded individuals that are working the field. We all come from different backgrounds — I’m in a stone yard/retail setting, versus a lot of other people on our board are landscapers and in nursery. We all get together and learn from each other and swap different ideas about how we can make LO better.

What are your hopes for the future of LO, and landscaping and horticulture in general?

I’d like to see us get back to more in-person involvement. The past few years we’ve had a big decline, and everybody’s still apprehensive about coming out to meetings. That seems to be the biggest issue with everybody — getting the contractors back out to in-person events.

When you’re not volunteering or working, what do you like to do?

I do enjoy the Blue Jays, so watching the Blue Jays games. I golf, and I’m also a craft distiller. I like certain beverages and it was expensive to buy them, so I was like, ‘how can I make it cheaper?’ I also do a lot of hiking so I go on hiking trips with my friends.