As a young girl growing up in Olds, Alberta, Tamra Davison was something of a city girl and never imagined a life among the apple blossoms and pumpkin people.
“The last thing I wanted to do was be a farmer. I don’t grow anything, I have flower baskets and that’s about it,” says Tamra, chuckling at the irony.
“But I feel truly blessed to be able to live here and to have my kids grow up on the farm, interacting with their grandparents.”
While studying fashion merchandising and design at Olds College, she met the handsome Okanagan farm boy who would become her partner for the next 20 years and counting. Tom Davison had grown up on his parents’ apple orchards in Vernon, a multi-generational business fixture in the North Okanagan since 1933.
The couple settled in Vernon where Tamra worked as an interior designer and Tom began a career as an agriculture consultant with the Vernon Fruit Union.
Farming was never far outside their purview, though, and in 1985, they joined the family business full-time. The first of their four children was just six months old.
The move signified big changes both for Davison Orchards (Voted Best Place for Family Fun by our readers) and for the Davison family. Selling direct-to-consumer was uncharted territory, a departure from business as usual in the fruit growing industry.
Tamra and Tom jumped in with both feet, re-investing every penny they made back into the farm.
She became a marketing director overnight, drawing easily on her love of design. She busied herself coming up with new ideas, creating brochures and knocking on the doors of the North Okanagan’s tourism industry. “We had to make the farm something worth talking about. We’re not on a main road, so people weren’t just going to stop in,” says Tamra.
Despite her work, Tamra’s family was and is what she truly lives for. Not many families can work side by side every day. Guided by faith and honest labour, the success of the Davison family now spans four generations.
From the support and open-mindedness of Tom’s parents, Bob and Dora, to the passion for farming that’s been passed down to her own children, Tamra says she has been blessed with an amazing family.
“My favourite thing in my life is my family. I loved every stage of being a mom and I love working with my kids. We all learn from each other. It’s hard sometimes to put work aside at the dinner table, but we make it work,” she says.
Today Tamra oversees all aspects of public relations and agritourism at Davison Orchards, but she is all too willing to humbly step out of the spotlight, choosing instead to acknowledge the many people around her who contribute to the company’s success.
“This place wouldn’t operate without everyone involved. We all work together to create a great community attraction—it’s a reflection on all of the people at this place,” she says.
Davison Orchards is not just about selling stuff to people. It’s about storytelling, sharing life on the farm and helping people understand where their food comes from.