At the second annual Lion Dairy & Drinks Grower of The Year Awards last night, passionate orange growers Frank and Sam Amatos were named Lion’s Growers of the Year. The brothers were recognised for their commitment to the industry over the past 50 years and their strong performance throughout the 2017/18 Valencia season.
The Lion Grower of The Year Awards was established to recognise the dedicated orange growers that partner with Lion Dairy & Drinks to provide fruit for its range of juice brands that include Berri Australian Grown, Daily Juice, The Juice Brothers and Nourish.
The award recognises the highest performer of the season and was established in memory of the late John Davidson, a long-term member of the Lion Dairy & Drinks family. The award is to remember John’s dedication to the orange industry and to inspire current and future growers who supply the business.
Originally from the town of Cinquefrondi in the Italian region of Calabria, Frank arrived first in Australia in 1952 at the age of 19, and was followed in 1960 by brother Sam at age 23. Both had tried their hand at growing produce in Italy with their own vegetable plots and settled quickly into the community of citrus growers in Leeton.
The brothers were self-taught, picking up the trade from locals within the Leeton area and bringing over orange and olive growers from Italy to build the skill-set within their team. When the doors of their orchard opened in 1973 they partnered with Lion Dairy & Drinks, and have remained in partnership ever since.
Together, the brothers’ careers in the industry have spanned half a century, weathering the storms of the trade together.
“We believe that communication, hard work and dedication has been the secret behind working together for the last 54 years”, said Frank.
“It is a fantastic honour to share this award with my brother and a special way to end our careers in the industry. “We have been happy to partner with Lion for over 45 years and have felt supported throughout as we’ve developed and grown our business, including updating the farm with drip irrigation and introducing contract pickers.”
Lion Dairy & Drinks Agricultural Procurement Director Murray Jeffrey presented the award to Frank and Sam at an awards ceremony in Leeton on Monday night. “It was fantastic to present Frank and Sam Amatos with this award,” he said.
“It acknowledges their exceptional performance over the past season, and throughout their partnership with Lion.
“We wholeheartedly respect the contribution they have made to the industry and wish them well in their well-deserved retirement.”
As well as spending time with family and friends, Frank and Sam said they planned to devote more time to their beloved veggie plots and continuing to keep their passion for the outdoors alive throughout their retirement years.