Our family history
A Family, A Farm, A Tradition
86 Years of Family Farming
Having a strong family heritage is not something to be taken for granted. As a family we, the Davisons, feel blessed to be able to look back on our history with pride and admiration. This year marks eighty-five years of family farming for Davison Orchards! We have been growing apples since 1933, and sharing the experience with you for over thirty years. We love to share our orchard with others, enabling people from all walks of life to be able to experience the smell of blossoms in spring, to witness the miracle of new life in the animal barn, to feel the thrill of picking apples in a lush green orchard, and to taste quality produce fresh from the fields. Farming is beautiful, and eighty-six years together has made us prouder than ever to be able to share it with you. Reaching such a milestone prompts one to reflect on where we have come from, the blessings and the struggles along the way, and where we are going.
Looking back over history allows us to see how the decisions made by our predecessors effect what we do today. Our past is an example, and being able to work alongside the different generations provides a unique opportunity to learn from one another. There are not many workplaces where the three year old child has the privilege of working alongside the eighty-four year old great-grandfather. We are five generations into our farm, and four generations are actively working together! Each generation has had their strengths and struggles that we can learn from.
The first generation was a brave one. They were British citizens and soldiers, and while their family did have connections to a hops farm, I don’t think they would have called themselves farmers. Tom and May Davison had a dream of a better life, and so they took a huge risk and embarked on a voyage across the ocean and across Canada. They didn’t have a specific destination in mind; what they were looking for was an opportunity. They found it here in Vernon, amongst the sunny slopes and McIntosh trees. Life was hard, and like everyone in those days, they did what they had to do each day to make it to the next. They allowed themselves to be teachable, learning a new trade, a new culture, and a new way of life. Shortly after Tom built the farm house in 1950 he passed away, leaving his wife May to run the farm with the help of her seventeen-year-old nephew, Bob.
The second generation is a hardworking one. We know this to be true because they are still found today, in their mid-eighties, outworking the rest of us. Bob and Dora Davison are true farmers: In their lifestyle, in their values, and in their work ethic. Bob, since the age of seventeen has been working this land every day. That is almost seventy years! Having worked for his uncle as a young boy, Bob had the skills and the work ethic that were needed to survive the hard years of making a living on the farm in the 1950’s. And they were indeed hard years. With the price of apples dropping, the family growing, and several cold winters damaging the orchard, it required the family to be patient, to persevere, and to remain people of integrity through thick and thin.
The third generation is a resourceful one. Tom grew up watching his dad work hard to put food on the table, and despite the difficulties, Bob had a love for the farm. Like many a farmers’ son, he too fell in the love with the land and being part of the miracle of growing quality food. He met his wife Tamra while attending Olds College. Tom was taking agriculture while Tamra was taking fashion design. After being away from the farm for a few years, the desire was strong to once again work the family land. In order to be able to support two family’s with the farm income, Tom and Tamra would have to be creative. They put their heads together, used their educations and skills and made their dream of opening up the farm to be a clean, wholesome place for the community to enjoya reality! Davison Orchards Country Village was born in 1985. Over thirty years later this third generation is still using their resources to invite others to enjoy the farm.
The fourth generation is a determined one. Having had the privilege of working with the 2 generations before them, they see the value of functioning as a team. Right now Lance Davison and his wife Rachel, and Laura (Davison) and her husband Kevin Shaw are actively working in the business. As the number of people working together grows, every generation is careful to respect the input of those around them, young and old alike. Learning from the past and looking to the future, these couples are determined to continue to grow the family farm, determined to continue working the land, and determined to stick close to our heritage of serving one another, the community and the people who work with us.
The fifth generation is an enthusiastic one. So far there are 8 children in this generation and each is proud to be able to be involved - in different ways - in the family farm. Although they are young they can be found shovelling out the barn, changing sprinklers, packing apples, going for tractor rides with dad, uncle, poppa and great-poppa, “helping” grandma in the gift shop and always looking for snacks at Nana’s house.
Many things have changed since our family started farming this land eighty-five years ago. Today, Davison Orchards’ is a dynamic place, it is a family place, and at times it is a crazy place! It is a productive farm growing five types of tree fruits, including over twenty varieties of apples, and eighteen different ground crops spread over one-hundred-and-twenty acres of land.We are home to a bakery, café, cannery, a beautiful retail store, a farm play area, and a rustic animal barn. The farm is diverse and we as a family are thankful to our staff and to our customers. We are grateful to have a family heritage to look back on and learn from, and we look forward to see what the next eighty-five years have in store.
Want to know more about our family history? "A Family, A Farm, A Tradition" - an essay by Laura Davison