In the fertile Okanagan Valley near Vernon in British Columbia, the produce barn at Davison Orchards Country Village is packed with shoppers filling up their baskets with punnets of apples, peaches, apricots and cherries. The fruit is fresh and straight from the orchards. So are the tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplant and cucumbers.
Davison Orchards Country Village
What began as a small family apple farm in 1933 has become an impressive country village attraction. 300,000 visitors come here to shop, eat and play during the six months of the year the farm is open to the public.
The family farm has expanded into a 48ha (120 acres) enterprise with a produce and gift shop, café and cannery. These days, they grow 25 different kinds of apples and a variety of fruit and vegetables, all of which are sold directly to the public from their premises.
It’s a favourite spot for families who are also attracted to the farm by the Johnny Popper Farm Tours (an educational ride on board a mini farm train), farm animal barn and the fun Crazy Cow Kids Corral.
What’s even more impressive is that three generations of the Davison family work full time at Davison Orchards Country Village. Tom and Tamra Davison started the retail section in 1985. Tom’s parents, Bob and Dora, are in their 80’s and still work on the farm while Tom and Tamra’s three children also work there.
Apple pie and blueberry scones
At the Apple Crate Bakery, the aroma of baked bread wafts through the air, tempting anyone who enters with a range of scrumptious offerings from the bakery, such as apple walnut bread, gingerbread men and apple crumble pie.
The selection of flavoured scones – such as maple bacon, blueberry lemon and white chocolate peach scones – looks delicious too.
Also for sale are jars of plum, raspberry and peach vanilla jam and fruit butters, such as maple pumpkin butter and peach butter.
“Apple pie is our year-round top seller but when in season, peach pie is popular too,” says Tamra Davison.
“We support other farmers as well because we can’t grow enough peaches, apricots and cherries, so we buy from other farms,” says Tamra Davison.
Farm to table
The Davison family started selling directly to consumers long before buying local became a trend in the Okanagan Valley.
In recent years, the farm-to-table movement has received a swell of support from the region’s top chefs and other foodies. There’s a strong bond between locals and the farmers who grow the produce. When visiting the Okanagan Valley, you’ll experience this farm-to-table philosophy at farms such as Davison Orchards, restaurants and markets.
Davison Orchards offers daily tastings of a range of products, many of which are made in the farm’s cannery using fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the land.
Don’t miss the old-fashioned caramel, which is perfect as a dip for fresh apples. It comes in three flavours: old-fashioned caramel, sea salt caramel (which is delicious when drizzled on peach pie) and cayenne caramel that is sweet with a bite at the end. The bakers on the farm also use it to drizzle over popcorn, for a sweet and salty treat.
At one end of the farm store, there’s a window where you can watch the bakers preparing batches of maple fudge, caramel, peach pie filling, jams and preserves.
Discover British Columbia
Davison Orchards Country Village is open daily from 1 May to 31 October. Admission to the farm is free. Johnny Popper Farm Tours cost $6 for adults (above 13 years) and $4 for children (age 2 to 12).
Want more? Pop into Planet Bee, which is right next door. Find out how to make these delicious Okanagan recipes for rhubarb tiramisu and apple dumpling bombs. Taste the pinot noir at 50th Parallel Estate.