As kids, Gavin ‘Bagus’ Stevenson and I spent untold hours in the Bronte surf together.
Gavin was smart enough to turn his love of the beach into a career as a lifeguard. Since then, he’s added another string to his bow with his business Fruitman Sam, delivering the freshest seasonal produce to customers across Sydney.
You and I go way back, right Gavin?
Yep, we grew up surfing together in Bronte, with the Boardriders and the Surf Club. We had the Bronte Gully to run around in too. It was such a great childhood, and I’m so grateful to have grown up there.
It’s definitely a special place. Your passion for the beach and surfing started young. When did you ride your first wave?
I can’t quite remember, but it was probably around six years old.
And you turned your love of the beach into your job by becoming a lifeguard, right?
Yeah, I’ve done a bunch of things – worked at the casino, I was a flight attendant for a few years, and I was a lifeguard for eight years before I went travelling. I met my wife in Utah, and when we came back to Sydney, I worked in pubs. But I also went back to lifeguarding, working for Woollahra Council at Camp Cove, and I’m still a part-time lifeguard at Waverley now.
Any rescues that stand out in your mind?
I’ve been involved in a few rescues where there’s fortunately been no loss of life, and CPR has brought the person back. And some dangerous rescues at Tamarama around the rocks.
Yeah, it’s been pretty incredible.
And you even ended up on TV.
Yeah, I was in a few seasons of Bondi Rescue when I was working as a lifeguard for Waverley Council. If you happen to be working and some serious or comical stuff goes on, you’ll generally make the cut.
And now you’re Fruitman Sam and I’m a customer. Tell us about the business?
We deliver a seasonal mix of Australian fruit and veg to our customer’s doors. It’s a really sustainable way to get your fresh produce – there’s no plastic, no packaging, and we recycle all the boxes. The rubbish we generate each week is about the same amount as my family of four. And because we only use seasonal, local produce, not only does it keep the food miles down, but it’s fresher. Something as simple as some super-fresh salad greens, dressed with a bit of vinegar – amazing. Better for the customers, better for the environment. Everyone wins!
Well, I can personally attest to how ridiculously good your produce is. How did you become Fruitman Sam?
My mate Sam, another old friend who grew up in Bronte, started the business. He then went on to open the Three Blue Ducks restaurant with two other mates, and he didn’t have time to do both. That’s when I bought Fruitman Sam from him.
How did COVID affect business?
As a food-delivering business, we were well-placed when COVID and lockdowns hit. There was no traffic on the roads, and everyone was stuck at home wanting food delivered! Of course, our office customers went offline, but we had big companies like Bunnings and Chemist Warehouse ordering fruit and veg boxes as gifts for their staff working at home. It was really nice – people are always very happy to receive a gift box.
Where are your customers based?
Our customers are in the Sydney metro region, from Potts Point and the eastern suburbs to the inner west, the northern beaches and all the way up to Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby. The return of employees to offices has been slow, and we’re still waiting for many of our office customers to come back, but lots of our customers who used to get our boxes delivered to their office are getting them delivered to their homes instead.
Community is a big part of your life. Tell me about your role at nippers.
Yeah, I volunteer as the age manager for the under six boys at Bronte nippers, and it’s really rewarding helping the kids overcome their fears and enjoy the water. Like parenting, each volunteer brings something different to the table, and it really helps the kids overcome the terror and get the bug for the water.
And don’t be so modest, Jason. You give a lot back, too – buying Fruitman Sam fruit boxes for the lifeguards at Bronte and donating the prizes for the Bronte Boardriders surfing comps.
These organisations give our community so much. Like you, I’m more than happy to support them however I can. What’s next for Fruitman Sam?
We’ve just started providing our customers with ideas for how to use the produce in our boxes. We’ve got a nutritionist and chef on board, and they’re coming up with recipe ideas each week highlighting that week’s fruit and veg. You can find the recipes on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
We already deliver staples like milk, bread, eggs, nuts, and flowers, as well as fruit and veg, but I’m thinking of maybe adding more products, like meat. I’m looking into the idea of doing meat boxes, small, medium and large, just like our fruit and veg boxes, filled with different cuts of meat. You might get a few sausages, some chuck steak, and some eye fillet – that kind of thing. And like our fruit and veg boxes, they will mean less waste, because the whole animal is being used. I’m talking to some farmers about it. It’s important to me to keep the produce as local as possible. It’s fresher that way, which means it tastes better, and it means fewer food miles too. We’re also looking at adding another delivery day.
I like the sound of that. Thanks for the chat, mate – see you in the surf.
You can find out more about Fruitman Sam’s fresh produce deliveries at their website, and check out their Facebook and Instagram pages for this week’s seasonal fruit and veg selections and recipe ideas.
Photo credit: Fruitman Sam Facebook page