SONG News September 2008 no. 83
In this Issue...

butternuts Butternut clusters - It looks like a good butternut crop this year. This native tree is the hardiest member of the walnut family. It can be found from New Brunswick to Manitoba and southward to Alabama. It is now on the endangered list because butternut canker, an invasive disease has wiped out much of the native population. The hope is to find resistant trees to help rebuild the population.

Brighton Meeting

On August 25th a meeting was held at the OMAF offices in Brighton, Ontario, the agenda of which was to discuss the reforming of ECSONG the eastern chapter of SONG which basically ceased to exist after the NNGA meeting in Ottawa. This meeting was to discuss bringing ECSONG which was supposed to be a chapter of the parent organization SONG back into a closer relationship and to revive the chapter.

Up to the point of the breakup of ECSONG there was duplication of many things such as the officers, newsletter, treasury, and website. These will now be co-ordinated to reduce duplication of duties and costs, ECSONG will be organized as described in the Organizational By-laws (which are included in this issue) with direct ties to SONG.

Also discussed and voted on by the attending members to pursue a Non-Profit Corporation status which will make government grant funding for our projects more accessible. It will protect our executive members from litigation in case of law suit and it will give us better credibility as a serious organization.

Dear ECSONG Members

We're working to rejuvenate ECSONG after a short period of dormancy. To bring back ECSONG the support of members like you is essential. Without member support ECSONG will remain dormant and we'll lose support ECSONG provides to nut growers in our region.

To rebuild ECSONG we need to restore our membership and elect a council to guide our chapter's activities. If you have not had a chance to do so, I urge you to renew your membership in the Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG). See the membership form in this newsletter.

Your membership dues support SONG and ECSONG activities such as the newsletter, website and meetings. We are meeting on November 22 to reorganize ECSONG. (see details below) Please consider coming to support ECSONG at this meeting. We will elect a new council and discuss plans for 2009. Bring your ideas. Finally, please consider getting actively involved in ECSONG. We will need members to serve as chair, vicechair, secretary and as councilors. We'll also need volunteers to coordinate and work in nut groves as we have done in the past.

If you are presently doing this for ECSONG, please let me know. If you would like to be nominated to be on the council, contact me as well. ECSONG can use your help.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank 3 ECSONG volunteers: Chris Skaarup who took up the duties of Acting Chair of ECSONG this summer and got things moving again, Neil Thomas who is serving as ECSONG's Vice Chair and Joffre Cote for his continued work in the Dolman Ridge nut groves.
Jeff Blackadar Acting Chair, ECSONG

The ladder approach to developing a regional black walnut nut industry
Neil Thomas, Lostwithiel Farm

If we look at why there has not yet been broad uptake of nut-growing agro forestry on Ontario farms, when OMAFRA itself fosters agro forestry, I can only surmise that there has been little clarity in strategy that would benefit all, and that it has depended very much on the individual landowner to take the initiative. Ultimately, success requires an established and growing market. We all know that Canada is a major importer of nutmeats, so there is no reason to believe that a home-grown product couldn't find its own niche. We are all hearing about 100-mile diets.

As changing land-use incurs costs, all landowners would like to see economic results from such change. In the parlance of management for results, there are several time-bound results that are relevant to us. There are outputs, outcomes and broader goal achievement. Outputs are almost immediate results that occur from direct actions, outcomes are the results that happen from one or more successful outputs, and the goal is the accrued effects of one or more outcomes. In the context of an emerging black walnut industry, it is the achievement of the goal which will put money in our collective pockets, though there is opportunity for individual economic gain at both the output and outcome levels. To try and clarify this, I have produced a table that places each of the major areas of focus in a ladder format. It is best to read each column (ladder) from the bottom upwards so as to get a sense of how things must converge in each area to reach a specific goal. In fact, the table is set up so that if you follow ladders from right to left you will see things that need to occur in temporal order, e.g. the harvesting goal requires achievement of'the production and agro forestry goals if we are to have nuts to harvest. I have put my own estimates of the minimum amount of time that it would take to achieve the results at each level. You can see, of course, that if we were to address everything in linear fashion, the years would add up into something like a lifetime. This becomes even more dramatic when you realize that we also need columns for processing, by-products, nutrition and marketing, each with its own set of results. I'll put these columns in future articles.

So we shouldn't contemplate all this in linear fashion. We have to achieve some results even while we are addressing others. In fact, as establishing productive plantations is probably one of the longest-term goals, most of the remaining results need to be realized as the plantations are developing and beginning to produce, i.e. we need to be able to step laterally between ladders. Most of this is beyond the reach of the individual, and requires collective action.

Here at Lostwithiel Farm we have tried to catalyze some of the change I mention. It is an uphill battle, much of which seems also to have to go upstream, i.e. against currents in thinking. But, after all, if current currents (if you'll excuse the expression) were adequate, we'd already have a regional black walnut nut industry. I have yet to find it. Read more on how to swim upstream at

Presidents Message

Hello SONG and ECSONG members. I would like to welcome all members of ECSONG back into the fold and hope that this new relationship between our two groups will prosper. We are living in some interesting and exciting times for nut growing in Ontario. With the locating of Ferraro Roche in Brantford We have a real interest in growing a hazelnut industry in Ontario, With much of the credit going to Martin Hodgson our SONG member and grower and Adam Dale from the University of Guelph there is a much renewed interest in the growing of Hazel nuts in Ontario. Martin has expended a lot of time and energy to plant his hazel nut grove having put in 5000 seedling trees and nourished and nurtured them to about 150 or so blight tolerant trees. Martin has a vision of a booming hazel nut industry with SONG being an essential partner. We could have as many as 15000 acres of hazelnuts being planted in Ontario, with cooperative processing plants and other offshoot industries for shot blast from shells and potentially Taxol for cancer.

I would also like to thank Dave and Linda Powell for hosting our summer meeting this year and congratulate them for all the efforts they put in as it is obvious they mean business.

We have other growers in Ontario who are quite successful growing and selling nuts. So if you are interested in seeing these successful operations, start coming to our summer and fall meetings and you will get first hand knowledge to perhaps start your own nut growing venture big or small.
Bruce w. Thurston

Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.