Creating Landscapes, From Guelph to Arizona

by Michelle Fach, Director OpenEd, University of Guelph

In Open Learning and Educational Support (OpenEd) at the University of Guelph, we create opportunities to enhance our students’ personal and professional experience at a time and place that meets their needs. Ontario native Bob MacFarlane understands what I mean.

Since 2011 65-year-old MacFarlane, who now lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, has maintained his commitment to lifelong learning by studying landscape design at the University of Guelph. MacFarlane has completed the Creating Landscapes Certificate entirely online, advancing his personal learning goal and realizing his dream of creating a sustainable landscape design for the winter home he shares with his wife down south.

MacFarlane, who has gained insight into Arizona’s desert plants by being an active member of local gardening clubs, has fully integrated his personal and professional interests through his OpenEd studies. ‘In one of my final classes in the UofG program, the Designing for Sustainability course,’ he says, ‘I used our urban property here in the Sun Lakes community as a case example for creating a sustainable landscape design. That plan has been completed and is now being updated; install work will start next winter.’

MacFarlane takes pride in sharing with his peers the skills he has attained through University of Guelph landscape design courses, and writes that ‘the Creating Landscapes Certificate not only allowed me to meet a lifelong learning goal, but also helped me to advance a retirement hobby into a business. In fact, what I learned online continues to positively influence the new winter lifestyle we enjoy in Arizona.’

MacFarlane’s achievement is just one example of the relevancy of the University of Guelph’s landscape and horticulture program, which engages and informs students doing hands-on work with plant life in a wide range of climatic conditions around the world.