Small is best at Alstonville Palms
SOMETIMES small really is better, says Debbie Deckys, whose Alstonville Palms wholesale nursery last week picked up the Best Small Production Nursery gong for the State in the Nursery and Gardening Industry Australia Awards.
Founded 22 years ago with her parents and husband, the latest award will jostle for space along with the others that have been hung with pride on the office wall over the years.
Mrs Deckys says they have won so many awards because of the company's innovative programs, which have only been possible due to the company's small size.
“While we have 12ha we only have four full-time staff and one casual, so we are more like a boutique, which means we can do things that larger nursery's just can't,” she said.
“Our staff are far more skilled with a bigger range, whereas a large nursery will have more labourers with a smaller range.”
Mrs Deckys said although the company specialised in palms when it was established, they were now a secondary line with the company changing its focus to more popular foliage plants such as birds of paradise as consumer tastes changed.
“People are looking for plants that they can put in and not touch again, so that's what we are doing now,” she said.
“There are some plants here that never get water, unless it rains.”
Yesterday, staff were hard at work packing shipping packages of plants for markets in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – shipping about 200,000 pots to wholesalers a year.
“It's hard yakka,” Mrs Deckys said.
“A lot of our staff are plant nutsand that's the type of staff I like tohave.
“You have to be enthusiasticbecause at the end of the day it is hard work.”
Alpine Nurseries down the road has also put in the hard work, walking away from the awards night with the gong for the Best Large Production Nursery.
Its business development manager, Ken Bevan, a rising star in the horticultural industry, was recognised with the Young Leader Award.