Margaret River region hospitality and tourism are both industries that are a little smoke and mirror: so much happens behind the scenes to ensure that sense of ease and effortless welcome for guests. We mean it, but it doesn’t happen without a lot of regional back of house team work.
Dave Navarro is one of our region’s back of house team.
Dave manages The Garden Basket and has done for six years. Owned by Rob and Erica Long, The Garden Basket is one of the main suppliers of fruit and veg to the region’s hospitality venues. On top of supplying restaurants, however, there’s also the work Dave’s team performs to make local and WA-fresh produce available to the local community.
The Garden Basket is a central meeting place. People come here to connect. And as Covid-19 developed a presence in Australia, Dave saw how things changed. He experienced first hand what it is to let go of employees as the hospitality industry was shut down by the government, and their piece of the fruit and veg wholesale market rotted on the vine. No restaurants. No volume. No volume, well, no need for staff. In the space of ten days or so, The Garden Basket went from an employment roster of 20 down to four.
Dave similarly had a front row seat to the effect of Covid on the community. He looked out for the older customers who had lost social contact – their trip to The Garden Basket and the conversation they had at the till was likely their only human contact of the day.
The world is living through the strangeness of having to be alert to risk in the most benign of environments. The humble supermarket. The green grocer. Dave is one member of the Margaret River region force offsetting all the strangeness with his humanity. He is personally connected to all of the new realities. Unemployment. Social hardship. Loneliness. But he’s also at the front-line of providing a useful personal response.
Dave is old enough and has lived enough to know that social connection – just checking in with each other – can alleviate so much distress and anxiety. So that’s what he does. He talks. He chats. He smiles. And he checks in. Everything is changing for everyone all the time. People like Dave are reliable and buoyant counterpoints to all of the uncertainty. We’re thankful for him everyday.
Image Credit: Lauren Trickett @laurentrickettphoto
Want to discover more of the Margaret River region’s Food Heroes? Local contributor Sarina Kamini is documenting the series