Pumpkin Fair, Encompass, Jan

‘I wanted to be a hippie who spends all day writing and cuddling puppies,’ Jan Daniels, Pumpkin Fair Committee Chair for 3 years jokes when asked if working in a non-profit was what she had always wanted.  ‘I thought I’d just be running a little op shop called Readystart (Encompass Community Services’ pre-loved shop), maybe for a couple of years. Ten years later, I am still here and loving it!’

Encompas Jan

Jan was a solo parent of 3.  She had to learn how to be creative to ensure that there was enough for her family.  ‘I started volunteering when my youngest started school.  I have always enjoyed working in community roles.  I love to see what people can do with support and belief.  Everyone has a talent or skill; or idea.  They just need someone to nurture and support them. I think that’s one of the reasons I am still with Encompass after all these years.’

Encompass Community Services is a local non-profit organisation that celebrates people of all abilities and backgrounds through their various programs and services, which include an RTO, a specialist employment agency, a life skills support program, respite & tours, social enterprises (café, op shop, farm) among others. Jan, who is also Encompass’ Business Services Manager says, ‘We are all about shaping inclusive and sustainable local communities so we constantly create people-centred activities like the Pumpkin Fair.  Last year, over 5000 people attended the fair, a proof that people of all abilities and backgrounds, hand in hand with the local community, can put together an event of this scale and make it a huge success!’

Encompass’ 7-acre farm, The Paddock, has been hosting the fair since 2015. ‘We deliver life skills support programs and provide a venue for training, work placement and employment.  We’re passionate about promoting the paddock to plate food option; and grow spray-free produce using organic principles.’

The farm grows and supplies seedlings to local farmers; and provides seasonal produce to local cafes.  It runs ‘Pick Your Own’ days during the summer period, allowing the public to pick their own produce straight from the ground. It also operates an apple cider orchard, in partnership with The Flying Brick.  ‘We have 16 varieties of heritage apples and hope to bottle our first batch of cider early next year. People will get to see the apple orchard when we do the hourly farm tour at the Pumpkin Fair.’

The fair boasts of fresh produce (including their own herbal teas, oils, pickles, lavender sugar, etc), sustainable living workshops (no dig garden, plant propagation, ricotta cheese making, make your own beer bread, aquaponics, etc), children’s activities (make & take sessions from recycled materials), wildlife show by The Rookeepers, live entertainment, sausage sizzle, wood oven pizza and lots of PUMPKINS.

‘We hope to see everyone at the Pumpkin Fair on Saturday 24th March, 10am to 3pm at The Paddock, 21-29 O’Halloran Rd (off Melaluka Rd), Leopold.  For enquiries, contact 5222 3377 or check Pumpkin Fair 2018 on Facebook.

‘All welcome….especially hippies, and cuddly puppies,’ Jan chuckles.     Photo: Supplied