Not many can say they have turned an inherited life long passion into an incredibly successful and long standing business, but Jane Vassallo has done exactly that.
Founding Gourmet Herbs in 2004, the fourth generation farmer - who developed a love for life on the farm when she was young - is proving to all, that women can farm just as well as men.
Since moving to her current Wilberforce farm In the early 1990s, Ms Vassallo has been paving the way for Gourmet Herbs.
Originally growing lettuce, it was the exploration of other options for hydroponics and then a trial of micro-herbs, that led to her discovering a demand by contemporary restaurants in the city.
"I created [Gourmet Herbs] because there were no micro-herbs around. No one knew of it," Ms Vassallo said.
"I wanted to do something different to what I was doing, because it was just not working."
After mastering the production of baby herbs, she found a niche market to establish her now nearly 20-year-old business, that supplies restaurants from Newcastle to Canberra and all throughout Sydney with herbs.
Ms Vassallo said since young she had always dreamt of running a farming business with sisters.
"Just us girls, to actually show the men at the market that the farming can be done by women," she said.
"I didn't have any sisters and when I started this, I just hired women. I find that women have attention to detail in the way we pack and do things."
With the retirement of her husband, Ms Vassallo has recently had to hire her first male employee to handle the maintenance around the farm.
Gourmet Herbs has enjoyed success over the last few years, winning at the Sydney Markets' Fresh Awards, the Local Business Awards (Agriculture 2021 and 2022, and Business of the Year 2021) and the Australian Small Business Champions Awards (Agricultural Services).
All of the wins were to the surprise of Ms Vassallo, who said she was speechless when she won the Local Business of the Year Award.
"I was happy to win the agriculture award, but to win the Business of the Year, that was just super amazing," she said.
"I really didn't think I was gonna win the [Champions Award]. There was some strong competition and to win that I was so honoured.
"I think [the Champions Award] and the Business of the Year are the two that I'm proudest of the most."
She is now waiting to hear on her nominations at the Australian Women's Small Business Champions Awards, named a finalist for both Business of the Year and Agriculture.
Ms Vassallo said that her staff deserve a lot of credit for getting her and the business to where it is now.
"I didn't do it all on my own. I just created it," she said. "I did many of the years on my own, but as we've gotten bigger, I've needed more help."
Despite the farm being above the recent major flood events experienced in the Hawkesbury, Gourmet Herbs still faced challenges with the wether.
"When you don't get any sun it affects our crops really badly, even though we're under cover," she said.
"It still causes a lot of mildew because there's a lot of moisture in the air.
"Mother Nature can be my best friend, but it can also be my worst enemy."
Ms Vassallo said many women in agriculture aren't recognised for all of the work they do.
"There is a lot of women in agriculture, they're just not acknowledged for the hard work they do, because they're all in the background," she said. "That is the problem with farming.
"All I can say is that if you put your mind to something with a lot of hard work, you can achieve anything.
"I've achieved something that I never thought I would ever achieve, because farming is not easy."