Peats Ridge flower grower named finalist in Fresh Awards

The team at S&P Dominello

After taking out the title three times before, including in 2021, S&P Dominello of Peats Ridge has been named as a finalist in the Flower Grower of the Year category at the 2022 Fresh Awards.

Run by Sydney Markets, the awards celebrate the success, hard work and determination of local business owners and their staff.

They also provide an opportunity for independent retailers and growers to showcase their quality produce, industry expertise, innovative practices and dedication to their customers.

Sam Dominello, who started the business in 1980 with brother Phil, said he was surprised but pleased to be named a finalist yet again.

“I’ll be even more surprised if we win this year,” he said.

“But it feels really good to be named a finalist once more.”

The brothers, who are third generation flower growers, run a very family-based business.

“Our family have always been market gardeners, mainly on the vegetable side of things,” Dominello said.

“My father, also Sam, had a real passion for flowers and always had them growing near the vegies.

“Over time, Phil and I decided the flowers were a better proposition for us.

“It’s still very much a family business.

“My wife Mandy is the financial controller and office manager, Phil’s wife works in the packing shed, and our sister is our sales manager in Sydney and has really good relationships with our customers,.”

Dominello said one of the main reasons for the company’s success was its location.

“We have a natural advantage, being located on the Central Coast plateau – I can’t emphasise that enough,” he said.

“We are 1,000 feet above sea level and have a good water supply – it’s a great farming area.

“We have a much better climate than some of the Sydney growers.

“And of course, we always make sure the plants have everything they need.

“We have a commercial worm farm and use those products on our crops and that helps a lot with quality.”

The company has 4ha of green houses, with all product under cover, and a staff of 14.

This year there are 63 finalists across 15 award categories vying to be crowned the winners at the Fresh Awards gala dinner on June 29 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

Sydney Markets CEO Brad Latham said retailers and growers are evaluated through an intensive mystery shopping program.

“They are judged on everything from produce quality and freshness to customer service and industry knowledge, as well as their store appearance and innovative approaches,” he said.

This year sees the introduction of a new award category – Non-retail/Studio Florist.

The new award recognises floral businesses for their achievements in originality, expression and visual composition in areas such as events and styling, floral design and visual merchandising.

“After two difficult years where we were forced to cancel the Fresh Awards, we are making up for lost time by celebrating the achievements of the fresh industry with an event bigger and better than ever,” Latham said.

“We look forward to celebrating the many businesses that make up our Markets community.”

Sydney Markets Chairman, John Pearson, said he was inspired by how businesses have adapted to change over the past two years.

“There has been a significant increase in online shopping and click and collect within the fresh industry and these retailers have worked tirelessly to keep up with consumer’s needs,” he said.

“We are proud to recognise those who excel in the industry via the Fresh Awards.”

Sydney Markets is home to the Sydney Produce Market, Sydney Flower Market and Sydney Growers Market.

Supplied by over 20,000 local and interstate growers, more than 700 businesses sell fresh fruit, vegetables and cut flowers to florists, fruit retailers and consumers.

Terry Collins