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
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
- 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.