Daniella’s growing urge to help others

Young Springvale green thumb Daniella Evens-Poulter.


A SPRINGVALE girl has sown the seeds of charity and in the process helped feed hundreds of hungry locals.
Six-year-old Daniella Evens-Poulter, with the help of her dad Stuart, grew a 36 kilogram Atlanic giant pumpkin in the yard of their Springvale home.
The giant vegetable took 120 days to balloon to its massive size in a fertile patch of garden that also sprouted 10 hefty Kent pumpkins.
The Kents were divided up between family and friends.
However, what to do with the Atlantic giant wasn’t so simple.
“There is only so much pumpkin you can eat in a season,” said Stuart.
That was until a charity collector knocked at the door asking for donations to help feed needy children.
The visit puzzled Daniella.
“She asked why they needed the money, she didn’t like the idea that kids go hungry.
“I explained sometimes that can happen to adults as well.
“We decided together that the pumpkin should go to people we don’t know, that could use a healthy free feed. She thought it was a great idea,” said Stuart.
Dandenong-based food charity Avocare gratefully accepted the giant donation.
Avocare chef and hospitality trainer Dale Payne roasted portions of pumpkin and combined them with roast chicken, baby potatoes and gravy.
The meals were given away as part of Avocare’s weekly free dinner program.
The rest he conjured into a delicious honey roast pumpkin soup served with pistachio and chive pesto, parmesan crisps and yoghurt.
Dale estimated the pumpkin would feed between 200 and 300 people.
“The great thing is not actually the pumpkin, it’s about the community and people giving to each other,” he said.
Stuart’s one request on handing over the giant vegetable was that the seeds be returned to him so that he could start the cycle of giving all over again.
“That was part of the deal. I bought the seeds and they cost about $10 because they are quite unusual.
“I usually keep my seeds from the season before so I said bring me back the seeds, I’ll sow them again in future and see what happens.”
Stuart and Daniella make a formidable team in the garden growing a variety of organic vegetables including tomatoes, carrorts and onions.
“I’ve tried to get her into healthy vegetables. Because I’m a gardener, we enjoy watching them grow and eating the food together.
“It’s now progressed to the stage where she’s contribued to feeding 100s of poeple. That will stay with her all her life.”
He hopes the donation will inspire other gardeners to be generous with their excess produce.
“I hope this could be seen as a cue for other gardeners in the community to also assist services such as Acocare.
“We the gardeners have the ability and place and others have the need. No one should ever go hungry.”

Dale’s Honey Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Pistachio and Chive Pesto, Parmesan Crisps and Yoghurt
2kg pumpkin
1 stick of celery
2 litres of vegetable stock
Sea salt
50ml yoghurt
2 onions
1 clove garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
500ml thickened cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1 carrot
2 tablespoons of honey
1 sprig of coriander
Extra virgin olive oil
200g pistachio nuts
Sea salt
100g parmesan cheese
30ml olive oil
1 bunch of chives

Parmesan crisps:
100g parmesan

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
Peel and chop the onions, carrot and garlic. Trim and chop the celery, set aside.
Remove the skin and seeds from the pumpkin and roughly chop
Place the pumpkin onto a tray and drizzle with honey, thyme and salt then place the pumpkin into the oven for 10 minutes or until soft.
In a medium pot heat up a dash of olive oil, add onions, carrot, celery and garlic and cook gently without colouring until them become soft.
Add the roasted pumpkin to the pot with vegetable stock and bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer.
Use a stick blender to blitz all the ingredients together to make a smooth puree.
Add cream, salt and pepper and taste for consistency.
Place pistachio nuts onto a tray and roast in the oven for four minutes, set aside and let them cool.
Using a blender combine the parmesan cheese, chives, pistachio nuts, olive oil and salt together. Blitz until it turns into a paste. Set aside with a little layer of olive oil over the top so it doesn’t discolour.
Parmesan crisps:
Place a piece of baking paper onto a plate then sprinkle parmesan cheese in the centre and start to spread it out making a circular shape, place it into the microwave for 30 seconds then remove and let it cool down. Break it up with your fingers to make smaller pieces.
Portion the soup into a bowl with a dollop of yoghurt in the centre, pesto on top and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprig of fresh coriander.