December 2021 Update

SOG programs are expanding

Senior Organic Gardeners has had a whirlwind couple of months preparing for its winter programs, including the horticultural therapy program, with the collaboration and contributions of Betty Weil as incoming Program Director.

Winter Programs

The program’s coordinator, Chelsea, will be facilitating a book club with two groups of Seniors, reading ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The book club will begin in late December and will meet four times, in December and January 2022. The book has been divided into four sections to be explored at each session, and each participant will receive a copy of the book and a journal with prompts to reflect on the themes highlighted in the book. Participants will have the option to sign onto Zoom video or call-in to contribute.

Throughout December and January, eighty SOG participants, at The Old Forge, Ottawa Community Housing, Bronson Center and Ottawa Immigration Services, will receive a garden activity box. Each box will include local agricultural products (jams, honey and teas), reading materials (donated by the Horticultural Society and Edible Ottawa) as well as small crafts and indoor bulbs. This will provide an opportunity for Seniors to establish connections and start conversations with other gardeners, in person or online, through their community groups.

Virtual gardening workshops will resume in January 2022, at the request of our partner organizations. Virtual workshops will be delivered to 4-6 communities each month during the winter, and will include topics such as native edible plants, composting and tending to in-home plants.

Funding, Fundraising and Planning

The SOG team has been working on grant applications to the Ottawa Community Foundation and Trillium, for its Spring-Summer 2022 projects.The $10k grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation was recently confirmed and will be used for the creation of an accessible website for senior participants and for the development of a manual/guide for the programs. (We do not currently have a SOG website, so this will be an opportunity to create an online platform for our seniors to connect and search for gardening information.)

SOG has been working on developing connections to offer horticultural therapy programming at the Perley Rideau, the Madawan Lodge, the Old Forge and the Ottawa Community housing. These programs will include virtual or in person gardening workshops during the winter months, and hands-on gardening support for next Spring.

The team is also working on the planning for the 2022 Garden Symposium, in its second year. The Garden Symposium will run from late February to April 2022, for 8 weekly sessions with a guest speaker and a new organic gardening topic each week. All profits from the workshops of the Symposium will go towards SOG activities

Also returning in 2022 is our wonderful Seed Sale, run by Margaret Tourond-Townson. Thank you Margaret!

October 2021 Update

Senior Organic Gardeners is alive and well… having had a busy spring and summer with Rob Danforth as SOG Gardening Coach offering numerous ZOOM workshops and Q&A’s. We are winding down the growing & harvest season and getting ready for the Horticultural Therapy activities during the winter months (December through March) until the next Spring Symposium in March-April.

Chelsea will be springing into action on the horticultural therapy winter activities.

The SOG Team is expanding to include a financial affairs volunteer to keep track of local and grant expenditures relating to our SOG budget. Welcome aboard Siddharth Soni!

We are currently seeking funding for the creation of a SOG Guide for senior gardeners and for new staff and volunteers as well as gearing up to apply for funding for a streamlined SOG program for 2022.

Margaret is retiring as Director and Lead Volunteer for the Senior Organic Gardeners Program but will continue as a Steering Committee Member. Betty Weil is coming aboard as the new SOG Program Director in early October. She comes to us after retirement as a teacher and coordinator of The Learning Partnership and an experienced, passionate gardener. Welcome to the COG OSO Steering Committee and to Senior Organic Gardeners, Betty!

July 2021 SOG Report

By Rob Danforth, Gardening Coach; Chelsea Dozois, Program Manager; and Margaret Tourond-Townson, Program Director

The Senior Organic Gardeners program is well underway this year in the area. We have adopted 7 clients, however, some of these groups have extra sub groups so at times we have been advising 12 groups in total. We offered seeds, seedlings, soil, compost, and box beds as far as the budget permitted. Almost all the groups of seniors received printed material in large print with pictures and participated to Zoom workshops with PowerPoint presentations and following Q&A. Q&A can be quite interesting and keeps us alert!

Fourteen Zoom workshops have been completed so far, each one designed to meet the needs of a specific group; one workshop had 3 translators (Russian, Mandarin, & Arabic). Some of the Zooms workshops were recorded – after addressing the privacy issue – and the recordings shared. We also did live demos on video and plan to do more.

Chelsea has coordinated the 7 contacts and managed the budget, procuring and delivering supplies for Ontario and Quebec, respecting the safety measures required by each province.

We are working on programming and funding for 2022 and beyond! The fundraising events in 2021 were successful: the Organic Seed Sale and the Gardening Symposium. We thank everyone for their donations and sponsorships.

SOG helps seniors overcome many types of deficits and disorders with organic gardening and good food. If you would like to support and encourage SOG, there are many options: single or monthly donations on-line (please designate SOG!), sponsoring a new SOG website or SOG Guide, or offering a Gift in Memory ( If you wish to have a look at the SOG website to see what you would be supporting, click on

The SOG Advisory Group welcomes a new member, Hazel Patterson who has been involved in the SOG Model 2 program and is an avid gardener, full of fundraising ideas. Welcome, Hazel!

SOG St-Lawrence is searching for a volunteer in the Kingston area to liaise with the SOG Program Manager and Gardening Coach as well as the COG-OSO Steering Committee. If you know someone who might have an interest, please get in touch with Margaret at:

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