We consider it a real privilege to have worked together on our family farm for many years. The core of our business is the land itself. How we care for the land affects not only our source of food and income now, but also into the future.
Our goal is to produce fresh, high quality fruit and vegetables in a safe, sustainable and environmentally sensitive manner. You may ask, what does that mean for the day-to-day operations of the farm? The following are a few examples of practical steps we take to achieve our goals.
Crop Rotation: We are very diversified on our farm, producing six different tree fruits and about ten different types of vegetables. Rotating the growing location of these crops reduces the build-up of specific weeds, insects and diseases, in turn balancing the nutrients and soil structure.
Trickle Irrigation: Over twenty five years ago we implemented the use of trickle irrigation. Trickle irrigation is the use of hoses along the rows of trees and vegetables which release a controlled amount of water to the base of the stock or trunk. Because trickle irrigation makes it possible to adjust the daily water usage based on plant growth and weather conditions, this method dramatically reduces water consumption by approximately 50% as well as eliminates soil erosion.
Plastic Mulches: This is the process of stretching a thin, black, plastic membrane over the rows of the trickle irrigation line where the vegetables will be planted. The black plastic eliminates weed growth around the plants thus eliminating the need for further plowing or chemical spraying, it also increases the heat retention around the plants and eliminates water evaporation completely. Furthermore, covering the ground around the plants reduces the relative humidity and therefore reduces disease pressure. Our farm uses plastic mulches in combination with trickle irrigation for maximum effect.
Manure: We believe strongly in the use of natural soil builders such as livestock manure and green manure. For example, in 2010 we trucked in twenty loads of livestock manure that were applied to the vegetable fields. Green manure is the practice of growing crops like oats and peas specifically to plow back into the soil to add organic matter and nutrients.
Insect monitoring and balancing: Our orchards and fields are monitored throughout the season for insect activity. The goal is to maintain a balance of predators (the good guys) which will feed on the problem insects (the bad guys). Spray control methods are only used if an area loses its balance and the predators can no longer keep up. At that point, we will spray the problem area with an appropriate control product which is specific to the problem insect, yet safe and gentle on the environment.
Another aspect of our farm that cannot be overstated is the wonderful warm, dry location that we find ourselves in the midst of. The south facing slopes of the Bella Vista area of Vernon is a very unique micro climate. Most of the North Okanagan is covered with evergreen forest unless it has been removed for agriculture or housing developments. However, the natural vegetation on the hills above our farm is predominately sage brush and bunch grass. This is a clear indicator that this area receives more sunshine and is hotter and dryer than the areas around it. The benefits of this climate for the crops are huge. More sunshine means more sugar content and higher quality fruit and vegetables with less disease pressure.
You may ask, "why not organic?" Although many of our methods would be considered organic approved we never claim to be organic. We feel that the organic label has somewhat lost its meaning and become more about marketing than environmental stewardship.
We welcome you to come for a tour, talk to the farmers (Tom or Bob) and see firsthand how your food is grown!
Growing for your family and ours since 1933,
Sincerely, The Davison Family