In Canada, the average age of farmers is getting older and older.
According to Statistics Canada, the average farm operator is 54 years old (Census of Agriculture, 2011). These stats show the average age climbing quickly, up five years since 2001. Canada is lacking young farmers — and people are wondering, who will grow Canadian food in the years to come?
Bob and Tom Davison, the father-son farming team at Davison Orchards, are excited to announce that four of the next generation have committed to farming full-time.
Lance Davison, 21, recently graduated from Olds Agriculture College with a diploma in Production Horticulture. Last week, he moved back to the farm with his new bride to work with his dad and grandpa. After studying agriculture for the last two years, Lance is coming back with new ideas and energy.
“I can’t wait to get out of the textbooks, and into the dirt again,” he said, adding that farming is in his blood. “To me, farming feels like making something from nothing — you start with some dirt, a small piece of land, and from that we can feed a lot of people in a safe and sustainable way.”
Lance and Rachel are joining Laura and Kevin as the youngest and fourth generation. This spring, Laura and Kevin have purchased their own little piece of farmland, which they have been preparing for planting. Together, the four have convinced their dad to plant more than 20,000 new apple trees this spring. Just half of the new trees are the Honeycrisp variety, with the remainder a mix of Ambrosia, Mutsu, Arlet, Empire and Ginger Gold.
How does Tom Davison feel about sharing the farm with another generation?
“It is absolutely awesome! Youth brings fresh energy and fresh ideas,” he said. “They understand technology more than I ever will, which has become an integral part of they way we operate.
“Of course, we sometimes disagree, what do you expect with three generations of different ideas working together? But those disagreements, once we work them out, they end up making us better farmers.”
Davison Orchards opens their farm market, café and bakery for the season on Wednesday. And 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the Davison amily farming in Vernon.