Calling All Gardeners!

How do I become a member of an OHA Society?

Do you love gardening? Are you concerned about Ontario’s environment? Whether you are a new gardener looking for support or an experienced one who is willing to share what you know, there is a place for you in OHA. Even gardeners who have moved from homes into apartments and no longer actively garden are most welcome as volunteers.

OHA member Societies are active in their communities – contributing their time and love of the outdoors. They frequently maintain public flower beds and planters, tend gardens at libraries and seniors’ homes, and assist in restoring and naturalizing rivers, creeks and roadsides.

There are over 278 OHA member Societies across the province. Each Society has different interests and activities. Contact information for every Society is listed on this web site in the Society section. Society activities are also reported in the OHA Annual Report.

There is no Society in my area. How do I start a horticultural society or garden club?

Formation of OHA Societies is controlled by the Agricultural & Horticultural Organizations Act 1990. This Act permits the creation and incorporation of new horticultural societies in any municipality (this includes townships) with a population of not less than 200. If the population of the municipality is greater than 25,000, there may be two societies and for each additional 25,000 in population there can be an additional society.

You need to have the support of at least 50 residents to sign the articles of incorporation for a new society. In northern Ontario, only 25 residents are required. These people will become your charter members.

What are the benefits of Incorporation?

If you are applying for a program grant, some organizations (such as governments agencies and foundations) require your organization to be incorporated. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) now gives incorporated societies with fewer than 200 members up to $1000 a year. Societies with more than 200 members receive up to $1500. These grants are offered to societies in good standing to cover the eligible expenses reported in the society’s annual corporate return. OMAFRA grants are awarded at the discretion of the Ministry and are not guaranteed to continue beyond the current granting period.

Incorporation also provides your organization with status as a separate legal entity, distinct from its members. A corporation may enter into contracts (including employment contracts), own land, sue and be sued. This corporate status limits the personal liability of the officers, directors and members of the organization. This means, for example, that you will not be personally liable for the corporation’s debts and obligations. Incorporation does not remove your overall responsibility for the corporation’s actions, however.

What steps do we take to incorporate a New Society?

First, contact the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 3rd Floor, 1 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario N1G 4Y2 or by phone at 1-888-466-2372. They will send you the appropriate forms:

  • Articles of Incorporation Application form to incorporate under the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act.
  • A copy of the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act, Parts I-IV and Regulations 16 and 17.
  • A sample constitution for a horticultural society. You are required to submit a constitution with your application for incorporation.

Please note that this is only a sample. Apart from the information in Articles II III, and I, which is taken from the Act, you can put whatever you want in your constitution. You may want to have a look at other societies’ constitutions for ideas.

The official name for your organization must have “horticultural society” in it. Once you have filled in the Incorporation Application form, return it to OMAFRA with a cheque for $25, payable to the Minister of Finance. This pays the one-time incorporation fee.

How does our new society become part of the OHA network?

Once your application is filed with OMAFRA, you will be invited to contact your OHA District Director who will explain to your group the many benefits of association with OHA.

Each OHA Society receives a comprehensive manual that explains the relationship and obligations between your Society, the OHA and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Included in the manual are fact sheets with information about managing your society and working with youth and volunteers.

In addition to the obvious benefits of working with experienced society leaders in your district and receiving their guidance and support, the OHA offers liability insurance and Treasurer bonding at very low cost to your society. OHA dues are assessed annually and based on society membership numbers.