Glossodia's Gourmet Herbs named produce grower of the year

Tough slog: James, Marcy and Jane Vassallo, owners of Gourmet Herbs at Glossodia, struggled through COVID-19 and have come out the other side with a Produce Grower of the Year award. Picture: Supplied
Tough slog: James, Marcy and Jane Vassallo, owners of Gourmet Herbs at Glossodia, struggled through COVID-19 and have come out the other side with a Produce Grower of the Year award. Picture: Supplied

Only a few months ago, conditions were so bad that Jane Vassallo was throwing out greenhouses full of micro herbs, and now she's being applauded as a Produce Grower of the Year.

The director of Gourmet Herbs at Glossodia said she was "shaking" before she found out she won, and the news "made the last four months worthwhile".

"It's been a really hard 12 months," Mrs Vassallo said.

"Going from last year's COVID, we just got back on track and then had to go through it all again and throw produce out on a bigger scale than last year."

In July, the business had already had to dispose of seven greenhouses full of micro herbs and one full of zucchini flowers, and things continued to get worse.

"We had a lot more in production this year than last year. I was full this year," she said.

Since the state opened up, business has been "really good, we've been flat out".

The company has a long history in the Hawkesbury, established 18 years ago with a single glasshouse.

Mrs Vassallo was at the forefront of the micro herbs movement in Australia, and has been expanding to edible flowers, including pansies and marigolds, during the pandemic.

"I've been able to grow more flowers and supply them ourselves rather than getting them from interstate. We're all about getting the freshest produce to our customers," she said.

Mrs Vassallo now has 11 glasshouses containing micro herbs, edible flowers and zucchini flowers.

Jane Vassallo, director of Gourmet Herbs at Glossodia, said being named Produce Grower of the Year made the last four months "worth it". Picture: Supplied

Jane Vassallo, director of Gourmet Herbs at Glossodia, said being named Produce Grower of the Year made the last four months "worth it". Picture: Supplied

The Produce Grower of the Year title was bestowed by Sydney Markets in its Fresh Awards.

Mrs Vassallo thanked her son, James, who does "all the sales" work. "We work as a team", she said, "without him I've got nothing".

She also thanked her customers and her teams, both on the growing end and at the markets, where she sells the majority of her produce.

The Fresh Awards rewards the top florists, greengrocers, providores, wholesalers and content creators across NSW and ACT.

Brad Latham, CEO of Sydney Markets, noted the hard work and dedication of those working within the fresh produce and floral industries, particularly during the lows of the past two years.

"The Fresh Award contenders are some of the heroes of our industry. They have had to navigate some of the most challenging times in business with many not only surviving, but thriving. These small businesses have remained cornerstones of our local communities, pivoting and adapting to ensure they can continue to service their customers," Mr Latham said.

"These businesses are a credit to themselves, and to the industry in general. They work tirelessly to deliver top quality produce, customer service and value for money. We were determined to give our Fresh Awards finalists and winners the moment in the spotlight they deserve and celebrate their commitment to our industry."