The Story of Senior Organic Gardeners (SOG)


Adele MacKay, SOG Manager with residents of 800 St Laurent Ottawa Community Housing and SOG Lead Volunteer- Margaret Townson.

Senior Organic Gardeners are featured in Down to Earth, Spring 2016 on page 3.

Senior Organic Gardeners was first talked about at Fall Reflections 2010 by then chair, Margaret Tourond-Townson.

It’s name for a very short while was Growing Older Organic! GOO would have been the acronym but with a few chuckles, the suggestion of Senior Organic Gardeners soon replaced that!

A number of incredible volunteers helped to bring SOG into reality: Rob Danforth, David Townson, Sara Holzman, Debbie Holzman and the support of the whole COG OSO Steering Committee.

Year one was carried out by volunteers, Rob, David, Margaret and Sara. They planted the seeds for this developing program! Margaret became the Lead Volunteer for SOG on the Steering Committee.

SOG 2012 Pilot Project

Our 2012 Pilot Project involving one Retirement Home, Unitarian House in Westboro and one Long Term Care facility, Longfield Manor in Barrhaven was very successful and we learned many excellent lessons on how to move forward. We thank both Unitarian House and Longfield Manor seniors and staff for such a wonderful experience.

SOG 2013 Pilot Project

In 2013, our continuing Pilot projects continued with the two locations above and expanded to The Perley & Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre as well as Wellington Towers and Brooke Manor- both Ottawa Community Housing locations.

  • Introduced the idea of organic vegetable and herb gardening to interested seniors in an informal circle with photographs and plants.
  • identified seniors who wished to participate
  • conducted short, relaxed tailored ‘hands-on” workshops in planning, purchasing, planting, maintaining, harvesting, and winterizing
  • visited periodically to check on progress and to help resolve issues
  • offered advice and assistance when requested
  • enjoyed a closing get together to enjoy some organic snacks, to reflect, revise, and begin planning next season
  • collected feedback and testimonials from participants to help SOG revise and plan for our program next growing season

SOG 2014

In 2014, we have worked in 9 locations: This year we added Regina Towers, Russell Manor and 800 St Laurent in the east end as well as Good Companions. We expanded to the non-growing season with horticultural learning and enjoyment activities.

The Joy of SOG in pictures… worth a thousand words…



Adele and Sue enjoying the aroma of herbs at Longfield Manor



Planting at the Perley & Rideau …



Tending the gardens at Russell Manor





Wanda and Guy and their team look after the gardens at Regina Towers assisted by local mascot in front photo!




Planting at Wellington Towers…