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The Society of Ontario Nut Growers

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Introduction: Welcome to the Society of Ontario Nut Growers. SONG is a group of about 300 nut enthusiasts that are dedicated to the promotion of nut trees as a source of enjoyment, food, timber and a host of byproducts. We encourage the planting of nut trees as commercial groves, reforestation, landscape plantings and backyard specimen trees. We encourage both the commercial grower as well as the hobbyist.

We recognize the part that trees play in the environment. They are the lungs of the earth, providing us with oxygen while removing carbon dioxide from the air. The trees anchor the soil and enrich it, and they naturally provide shade, food and shelter for wildlife as well.

At the Northern Nut Growers Annual Meeting in the summer of 1972, Ernie Grimo was appointed to report on the nut growing activity in Ontario for the next NNGA meeting. As part of this job, Grimo then contacted the 25 Canadian NNGA members along with 15 more former members and asked them what they were growing, what success they were having, and finally, if they would like to see an Ontario organization established. The response was overwhelmingly favorable. With this encouragement, Grimo contacted Doug Campbell and Bob Hambleton, two local nut grower enthusiasts, who held an organizational meeting. The first general meeting was called for the fall of 1972. Motions were passed establishing SONG, a constitution was passed and the first election of officers was held. Grimo was elected President, Cedric Larsson was Vice-president, Campbell became the editor of SONG News, the news bulletin of the Association and Bob Hambleton became the first Secretary-treasurer.

During the first winter (1972-3) a plan to encourage research in nut growing and to encourage membership, unfolded. Local heartnuts were obtained and distributed by mail to interested people. Zena Cherry of the Globe decided to help SONG's cause and wrote a small piece entitled Sing a Song of Nut Trees. By spring, SONG's membership rose to over 1000 members as heartnuts were distributed across the country. Occasional reports on the progress of the trees still come back after almost 30 years.

Other seed distributions occurred as the years followed involving black walnuts in the Canadian prairies and pecans from the most northern end of the commercial pecan range of Missouri and Iowa. These pecans have proven to be well adapted to the Ontario climates and are hardy almost everywhere that black walnut will grow.

In 1978, Filmore R. Park and Alec C. Jones co-founded the Ottawa Area Chapter of SONG to advance the purpose in Eastern Ontario, which has different growing conditions from the other regions in Ontario. In 1991, the Chapter name was changed to the Eastern Chapter of SONG (ECSONG) to reflect an expanded mandate to serve the larger Eastern Ontario region.

In the years that followed there were a number of accomplishments:

No less than 3 nut nurseries became established
A number of nut groves were developed on public lands
An experimental planting of heartnuts and sweet chestnuts was established at the Simcoe Experimental Station, yielding data on production and new selections
An endless number of seedling and grafted nut trees were planted
A host of new selections and cultivars were tested in literally all of the nut tree species that were hardy for at least some part of Ontario.
By the early 90's it could be seen that at least 3 of the nut species could be grown commercially in Ontario and a number of growers established acreages of heartnut, sweet chestnut and hazelnut successfully.
The future of nut growing looks bright for Ontario. As new selections continue to evolve, we foresee commercial nut groves in extensive areas of the tobacco belt, the Niagara Peninsula and the Georgian Bay region. Nut processing stations will dot the landscape and Southern Ontario will be as famous for nuts as it is for wine and fruit.


Contact Information
Address:
7 Wildacre Lane Ottawa, Ontario K2K 1X7 Canada
Tel:
Fax:
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