Category Archives: Food

The Daly Larder

Foraged Fresh

For some, the lack of tomatoes in a salad during winter is a source of great confusion. But for chef Michael Daly, owner of the Daly Larder, it is about “sticking to my guns”, and serving delicious, quality food that is “paddock to plate” fresh, seasonal and, if possible, locally foraged.

Michael DalyFor those who aren’t familiar with the term, foraging “starts in your own back garden”, according to Michael. “There are loads of weeds that are edible greens and quite nutritious.

“There’s a plant called purslane. It usually grows along the cracks in the footpath, because it likes that little bit of dry soil and it kind of spreads out like a hand. Not many people know that that plant is absolutely packed with Omega-3, so anybody who doesn’t like fish, or doesn’t want to take oils, can opt for that. It tastes quite crunchy, it actually tastes like cucumber.

“A lot of people don’t realise that these edible weeds contain more vitamins and minerals than any of the stuff that’s growing elsewhere. That’s because it’s natural, it’s untouched, and nobody has tampered with it.”

Foraging starts in your own back garden.

Michael says he can attribute his keen sense of foraging to his grandfather, who taught him back in his home country of Ireland. “From when I was eight years old we used to go out for walks through the country lanes. He would be showing me different things that I could eat, teaching me from an early age. I’ve used this throughout my career as a chef, through getting my hands on fresh ingredients and the best of everything.”

A sign of the timesIt was the desire to work for himself, while incorporating his own values, that led to the creation of the Daly Larder – café, gourmet delicatessen and cooking school all in one, in the heart of Michael’s adopted home, Feilding. “I had a little dream of bringing my own foraging concept, and sustainable way of thinking, to life. The store is based on the idea of recycling and not wasting food. The food is fresh daily, dependent on what’s in season and what I can get my hands on.” Even the building itself reflects the theme, with everything repurposed from something, “old sheep gates to the table tops refurbished from old 10-pin-bowling lanes”.

The Daly Larder is also often home to an audience. Its unique open plan décor, with everything on display, was purpose designed by Michael. “You can see me cooking and going from one kitchen to another, just like you would sitting in your lounge at home. I can’t hide anything, so the whole concept is what you see is what you get. It’s theatre and live entertainment.”


Saving Students from Themselves

The Facebook superstar set up her Healthy Eating on a Student Budget page in March 2014 after demand from friends grew for more pictures and recipes of Lauren’s inexpensive, Paleo-inspired meals. In less than a year the page’s popularity sky-rocketed, gaining nearly 275,000 followers.

“To tell you the exact reason why it’s got so big, I have no idea,” says the twenty-four-year-old. “I think people connected with the fact that I was a money-strapped student and not a supermodel or a nutritionist telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat.”

Creating magicA Bachelor of Applied Visual Imagery graduate from UCOL, and former Massey student, Lauren developed a passion for food on migrating to New Zealand from her native England eight years ago. Fast forward to the present day and Lauren is totally committed to a diet of the freshest, best-quality, local food that inspired her passion – well, mostly.

“I’ll still eat carbs every now and then. I’m not trying to tell people you can’t have those foods,” Lauren explains. “My friend has celiacs disease and said her life was over because she could never have KFC again. So I came up with a recipe for gluten-free and dairy-free KFC. Instead of saying you can never have that food again I’m saying if you want a healthier option, here it is.”

I’m not sure that parents and older generations really understand how little their kids know

The Paleo diet is a lifestyle that excludes processed foods, dairy and cereals, and encourages people to eat only what early humans could catch, kill or grow. Lauren became attracted to the concept after a long battle with weight loss. “I was a chubby kid, a chubby teenager, and a chubby adult. I know now that I’ll never be the size six I always wanted to be. When I started following the Paleo guidelines it was the first time I’d thought to myself, ‘I’m not doing this to lose weight, I’m doing this to be a healthier person’.

“I was feeling absolutely miserable when I was studying and I thought I’d feel that way forever. But when I changed my eating habits I began to feel so much better mentally and physically. I think people still struggle to see food as an issue – that what you eat affects your mood – but it’s completely relevant.”

Paleo FishcakesLauren rolled her Paleo lifestyle, photography degree, and love of food together when she established her Facebook page from her Palmerston North flat. She posts healthy recipes that she creates for students, along with tips and tricks on how to maximise their food budget.

But the internet phenomenon is generating some big plans for beyond her Facebook wall. “I’m really interested in setting up cooking classes for students. There are so many of them out there who don’t know to boil carrots!” Lauren laughs. “It’s really scary what you see in a student flat. Having come from a home where I was taught how to cook I just assumed people could do the basics like me.

I think people still struggle to see food as an issue – that what you eat affects your mood – but it’s completely relevant

“I didn’t even know that mince on toast was a thing until I moved into my first flat. “I once lived with someone who grilled a sausage on the electric element. No pan, just the element. They thought that was how it was done. I couldn’t understand how someone who was so intelligent, studying something really complicated, could do something so out of this world to me! I’m not sure that parents and older generations really understand how little their kids know.”

The finished productOther projects up Lauren’s sleeve are a recipe book that she wants to be “universal, not just for university students”, and after a successful appearance at Palmerston North’s Festival of Cultures in March, Lauren is keen to get on stage for some more live cooking demonstrations. “It was amazing to have met Nici Wickes and Ray McVinnie at the Festival. I’ve admired them for years. I was cooking just before they were on and I was scared I’d ruin the demo before they came on! I didn’t pass out or burn my food though, so I think I’m good to do more.” Lauren has also been hitting the road, travelling the country and cooking for a very exciting secret project.

This girl is certainly one to keep your eyes on for the future as she continues to dip her fingers into many more (Paleo) pies.

Mabel in the shed

Meet Mabel, the Vintage Caravan Bar

Meet Paul and Kylie Grimmer and the newest addition to their growing family – their 1960s’ Hillcrest Hamilton ‘Silvermist’ caravan, Mabel.

The two are restoring and repurposing a very vintage caravan, taking it from “an immobile derelict sleepout to a stylish travelling bar on wheels”, as Kylie puts it.

Mood board 1Coming to the end of renovating their first home, the couple were looking for “a new and exciting project that we could do together,” Kylie remembers. The pair delight in “taking tired objects and materials and recreating them in an innovative and modern way”, and it was from this love that ‘Mabel’ came into the picture.

Initially the idea was to create a holiday home for their family, just another creative project they could put under their collective belt. But the pair saw a potential business opportunity through Kylie’s experience with event management and marketing. “I believed there was a gap in the local market for boutique and unique goods and services, particularly for the wedding and corporate event market.”

Sandblasting, welding, wiring, painting, plumbing, sewing… the list is endless!

They started their search in 2012 for the right caravan and found it two years later in Whangarei Heads, some 12 hours north.

“The caravan had been located beachside and been stationary for 30 years. Needless to say, she had to be brought back on a trailer, which was a long journey that saw the loss of two windows along the way!”

Old lightsEvery inch of Mabel will be restored from the ground up, “along with a few sympathetic alterations in order for her to take on her new hostess role!”.

“Sandblasting, welding, wiring, painting, plumbing, sewing… the list is endless!”

With their passion for being hands on, Paul and Kylie are planning to do as much of the renovation process as they can themselves. “With the assistance of some talented local engineers and electricians for the tricky technical stuff,” Kylie says.

I believed there was a gap in the local market for boutique and unique goods and services, particularly for the wedding and corporate event market

The hope is to have the finished product looking “classic and romantic with a modern twist”.

Distressed wood, marble and brass – finishes often thought of as strictly ‘permanent dwellings’ – are going to be utilised in creative and refreshing ways.

Mood board 2The ultimate goal is for Mabel to be a “sophisticated and stylish” travelling bar that will be the home and centrepiece of their successful business “Meet Mabel”. Mabel will be ‘met’ and hired for private and corporate events once the renovations are complete, and will be equipped with all the trimmings, “of which many will be built and created by us”. “She will also be available for private photo shoots, dining and select local public events as well.”

“It’s about creating a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!”

Follow Mabel’s journey on here on


Snippets from Issue 6


MTB K LoopIn the past decade Arapuke Forest Park has been swamped with the sweat of bikers chipping away dirt for the park’s trail development.

The Manawatu Mountain Bike Club has been working with the Palmerston North City Council to develop a network of mountain bike trails called the K-Loop at the Kahuterawa Outdoor Recreational Area. “Our goal is to create some reasonable off-road riding opportunities around Manawatu, where there has traditionally been only a few,” says club representative Bill Russell.

Today the park has fifteen kilometres of bike tracks catering to all experience levels. Beginners get to enjoy a relaxed ride while advanced mountain bikers can pursue the downhill runs with thrilling jumps and drops. “On a good ride I should feel scared somewhere along the journey,” says club member Russell Brebner.

The tracks have been made possible because of the persistence and hard work of club members. “Lots of man and woman labour is required to turn the trails into something that’s fun and ride-able,” says Russell. The club organises occasional working bees to really crack into the project, and receives support from the Palmerston North City Council, Trail Fund NZ, Horizons Regional Council, Ground Effect and the Eastern and Central Community Trust.

Owing to forest harvesting, access to the park has been limited recently to weekends and trail development has been delayed. “The great news is that the loggers should be out of there by the end of April,” says Bill. “Next season onwards is going to be really exciting because we’re going to have a much bigger playground to do the design.” It’s anticipated that when the trail building is complete twenty-five kilometres of trails will be available to enthusiasts.

Arapuke Forest Park isn’t just full of the daredevils you’d imagine. “We’re building something that caters to everyone from six-year-olds to the advanced riders at the other end of the spectrum,” Russell explains. “In the past three years I’ve seen people I never thought I’d see riding on that hill, from families to groups of ladies.”

Park access is through Kahuterawa Road (advanced trails) or Scotts Road.


Little LibraryThere has been a new feature added to the Rose Garden at Palmerston North’s Victoria Esplanade. In memory of book lover Joyce Scott, her friends and family have erected a Little Free Library. Joyce, who passed away last year, wanted everyone to know the joy that comes from getting lost in a good book.

The Little Free Library is a box full of books where everyone is welcome to pick up a book and bring back another. This library is currently one of only four in New Zealand and is a part of a global initiative, with libraries around the world all registered and tracked at

Alida Parker, a friend of Joyce, recalls how often they would talk of setting up a Little Free Library near Joyce’s home. The Esplanade became home to the Little Free Library as it was a special place for Joyce. “She loved to be surrounded by the roses and sometimes we would both take a book down and enjoy the place and the sun.”

The City Council installed the Little Free Library in the Rose Garden, and the family have plans to install another on Massey University campus. “We are extending the Little Free Library to other parts of New Zealand, that’s the beauty of it.”


Cheeeeeeese!!!In the hustle and bustle of the Feilding Farmers’ Market, award-winning cheese-maker Adrian Walcroft can be found at the Cartwheel Creamery stall.

Adrian has an impressive resume, having been awarded the title of Champion Home Crafted Cheese-maker at the 2012 New Zealand Cuisine Champions of Cheese awards. His Pohangina Blue cheese was also a winner, earning gold at the event. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as animated as he was with the success of those awards,” Adrian’s wife Jill explains. “They’re very justly deserved.”

The couple started producing their artisan goods for market in September last year. To pick their favourite cheese is like “choosing a favourite child!”. A popular choice is the aptly named Coppermine, a washed-rind cheese with coppery tones, named after the creek running through the Ruahines. “It’s really tasty and we’re enjoying people discovering it and liking it as much as we do.”

The Walcrofts are excited about making their gold-winning blue cheese for customers once a culturing room is available. “It might be our new favourite!” Plum and quince pastes derived from their Pohangina Valley orchard are also soon to accompany their goods at the market, enriching the cheese tasting experience.

Tastings at the gate on Sundays 1-4pm.

James, hard at work

Open Sky Office

James Stewart is the man with the plan, and as the new Federated Farmers’ Manawatu-Rangitikei Provincial President he is determined to lead his community and get New Zealanders back in touch with their farming roots.

James in the milking shed“I was tapped on the shoulder,” laughs James when discussing his selection as Federated Farmers’ newest Provincial President. “I’ve always been very passionate about the agricultural sector, having been a farmer my whole life. I was brought up on a farm, and had been in my own business for about twenty years when I got to the point where I had a little bit more time to get out in the wider industry, rather than just being on a farm.”

This wealth of experience more than proved that he was fit for the job, and James is now one of the youngest elected presidents to date, a representative of the younger generation of farmers who are now coming into their own. “The biggest qualification I need is to be a real farmer, and know the issues for farmers and represent them.”

I’ve got the best air conditioning in the country. When I talk about my office I’m talking about my farm. My office is green paddocks and a wide, open sky

James is not one to leave things up to others, and already he is making his own mark on how things are done. “When I took on this role I think my big catchphrase was engagement. I want to engage with my farmers, so that farmers get real value from what we are doing. Farmers want to farm the land and the stock. That’s why they wanted to farm. They don’t want to deal with the political stuff. That’s what we are trying to help with. We are the voice of farmers.”

WindmillEven more vital than interacting with farmers is James’ driving focus on reuniting the rural and urban communities. “I enjoy talking to urban people, going to town groups, schools, Lions Clubs, Probus. Just getting out and talking, and sharing our story, what we are doing in New Zealand and the challenges we have.

“Our country has become very urbanised; only about fourteen per cent of the population are living rurally. People are seeing less and less of farms. What I want to do is give them the chance and that’s part of the Manawatu Farm Days we are launching. Open the gate. Come and have a look. If people don’t understand what we are doing we have to show them.”

I want to engage with my farmers, so that farmers get real value from what we are doing. Farmers want to farm the land and the stock

He is also hoping to encourage other young farmers, and help those considering this field of work understand the work that is involved on a farm. “One day you can be a vet, other days you’re a plumber, and some days you’re an accountant running a business. There are a lot of different challenges that give a lot of variety.

Tractor“Farming has always been a bit of a lifestyle and that’s what probably got me into it, the lifestyle it encompasses. I’ve often said, ‘I’ve got the best air conditioning in the country.’ When I talk about my office I’m talking about my farm. My office is green paddocks and a wide, open sky. You’ve got plenty of room and space, fresh air. There is nothing better getting up in the morning and watching the sun come up. It’s just great to be out and free.”

Aaron and Heather

Their Kitchen Rules

“When My Kitchen Rules came up our parents said, ‘If you don’t apply this time we are giving up on you’,” Aaron remembers.

Aaron at workThe popular Pacific duo Aaron and Heather Freeman, the ‘Polynesian Cooks’, made it to the final of the show last year, nearly taking out the competition.

Even before what the pair describe as the whirlwind that was My Kitchen Rules, cooking exceptional food had been in their blood. More so for Aaron, who had always dreamed of cooking competitively.

“Heather was always a consideration as a partner for the show, but I didn’t want to leave both of our kids at home without Mum and Dad. I initially applied with a friend because I thought a boy duo team would be refreshing, but he had been a chef for fifteen years previously so was ineligible.

“I got a call from the My Kitchen Rules team saying that they really liked my story and wanted me on the show, so I had seventy-two hours to find a replacement, which isn’t usually done. It was a stressful three days but it came back to Heather.”

InspirationWith no luck in finding a replacement, Heather recalls slamming her car door and saying, “FINE, I’LL DO IT!”.

When filming came around, the two struggled with being away from home for long periods of time. “The cameras on us and the cooking was fine, it was easy. The hardest thing ever was being away from our kids. The reality was we started in June last year and it went through to October.”

Things got off to a rocky start for the team. “I struggled with the competition. I couldn’t understand the concept; that it wasn’t a cooking show, it was more a reality TV show, because I just wanted to cook,” Aaron remembers.

Heather agrees that behind the scenes was not what you would expect. “Your success hinged on whether you were dramatic or whether you had a big personality. So we learnt quite a lot along the way in order to preserve our longevity throughout the competition. I think the hardest thing for us was getting the judges to understand us.”

If it weren’t for people interrupting us on the street today, saying how much they enjoyed us, we would just be in the corner and it would have been all for nothing.

This misunderstanding was resolved dramatically in the semi-finals, where Aaron and Heather had the chance to channel their Pacific Islander heritage in their food. “It was the first time we actually got to prepare Pacific cuisine, which I had been busting to do,” Aaron remembers. “It was quite refreshing because we were finally able to express ourselves. To get such great feedback from the guest judges in that semi-final still makes me wake up and smile about it today.”

Heather agrees. “It was the first point in the competition where we had got that validation, we belonged where we were and had a chance at taking out the competition.”

But much of this validation came from the fans and viewers from across the country who supported the duo from day one. “People would always comment on how nice we were. We thought New Zealand was going to hate us, but it was edited so well and what you saw on the show was just us, we didn’t manufacture anything.

Aaron and Heather“If it weren’t for people interrupting us on the street today, saying how much they enjoyed us, we would just be in the corner and it would have been for nothing.”

The final of My Kitchen Rules, which aired in October 2014, was a bittersweet pill for both Aaron and Heather to swallow. “I’m still hurt, it hurts that we didn’t win. The final would have been the perfect ending for us because it was so hard to break through to the judges, to show them who we were and the food we wanted to cook.

“What was made tougher was the fact that they filmed a double ending where we either lost by two points or won by one point. So we had to find out with the rest of New Zealand. For six weeks we didn’t know, and the day after we got home we were just meant to deal with it all.

“I’m gutted we lost because I am a competitive person, but it just came down to reality TV time pressure at the end of the day,” Aaron believes.

When My Kitchen Rules came up our parents said, ‘If you don’t apply this time we are giving up on you’

Both Aaron and Heather have never lost sight of what matters most, however. “We have always had a respect for the competition,” says Aaron. “We didn’t lose in a way because we never lost the support. It is almost a blessing in disguise because all I really ever wanted was the title of winning My Kitchen Rules. I didn’t care about the grand prize because if we had won we would have been contractually bound. Since the final ended it has made me so focused because we have won everything that the winners won, the rest of the prize was just stuff.”

The finished masterpieceToday, Aaron and Heather have exciting new things in motion. Launching their new Pacific cuisine brand, Tatou, for catering and functions is one of their sources of pride. “I always saw having a brand in the future and it fitted the approach that we have to food because it means ‘us’, quite literally.”
Most importantly, their two children are still big fans of their parents’ food. “They are two of our harshest food critics. A lot of people used to comment on us when we received harsh feedback: ‘Why do you just look at the judges like it doesn’t even faze you?’. We’ve heard worse mate, we live with a two-year-old who is very honest,” they laugh.

The future is bright for the duo, who are planning to build their brand even further. “I believe in the people in Manawatu, otherwise I wouldn’t still be living here. Those who spend their hard-earned money deserve to be fed well, so I want to raise that standard and showcase what New Zealand and Pacific food can be.

“The whole thing has just consumed our lives, but that’s our choice. It’s an exciting time, putting ourselves in a position where we aren’t just doing nine to five.”

An eye on sheep's milk

Milk of the Future

With 30 million sheep across the country, why is it that New Zealanders find the idea of milking them bizarre?

Craig PritchardMassey lecturer Craig Prichard is on a mission to promote sheep dairy as a viable form of agribusiness in New Zealand. “People from eastern and southern Europe take this as normal. I think that if New Zealand had been settled by southern Europeans rather than northern Europeans we would have had a sheep dairy industry from the beginning.”

Recently the concept of milking sheep has caught the attention of large agribusiness company, Landcorp. The state-owned enterprise purchased 2,500 East Friesian sheep last year for trial milking. It has also engaged Massey’s Riddet Institute in experimenting with sheep’s milk products such as butter and ice cream and is in discussion with FoodHQ, a collective of New Zealand’s foremost food science organisations. “We’re a lot more experimental in what we’re eating,” believes Craig, “therefore we can be more experimental with what we can potentially sell to people.”

There are a lot of lifestyle blocks on the fringes of New Zealand cities. I’d like to see us make better use of that land

Craig belongs to a group of Massey researchers called Ewe Can Dairy who support the New Zealand sheep dairy industry. In February the team ran the Ewe Milk Products and Sheep Dairying Conference. “It’s part of trying to think through issues around alternative dairy industries,” explains Craig.

Sheep milkingCraig isn’t just watching the industry’s development from the sidelines. “I milk sheep myself in a very rustic, low-budget, low-impact way,” he says.

“It’s important to understand the business at grassroots level. There’s a lot of knowledge that comes from day-to-day milking and getting involved with the sheep.”

Craig’s lifestyle block exemplifies an alternative business model for New Zealand dairy practices. “There are a lot of lifestyle blocks on the fringes of New Zealand cities. They mow them and might have a few raggedy old sheep.

We’re a lot more experimental in what we’re eating

I’d like to see us make better use of that land.” He proposes that a sheep dairy business could involve a number of small holders getting together with small flocks, which could be milked collectively.

“The challenge is to find business models that connect people to the industries. Maybe some aspects of fair and equitable trade might find their way into this kind of business. There are lots of things you can do on a small scale by connecting people to the products they consume.”

Free range sheep...As for the taste of sheep’s milk – “It was the biggest challenge to get my twelve-year-old son to eat some sheep’s milk products,” says Craig. “It’s that little reaction where people go, ‘I’m not really sure about that’. We need to attach meanings to sheep’s milk products that are positive for the industry.” Sheep’s milk has a similar flavour to cow’s milk, only much richer. With the increase in dairy product varieties in supermarkets, sheep’s milk could easily make the shelves.

Order your dream salad here!

The Green House Effect

Rolling up their sleeves after months of work, six passionate ladies have opened the doors of their new adventure. The new salad bar known as ‘The Green House’ reflects the idea of ‘eat well, live well’ and in the few months since its opening it has become an iconic spot, with people lining up in the streets to escape fast food.

Salad“We needed to do something for ourselves,” says Gill Yorke, the manager. “The girls talked about setting up a mobile salad and smoothie van, but we decided that was too much hassle, so instead we planned on moving to The Square in Palmerston North.” Along with Gill, Emily Blanchett and Lucy Gertsgraser share ownership in the bar, while their friends Kate Bryant, Chloe Hes and Emma Hintz are the passionate workers.

For many the name The Green House will be familiar thanks to social media, with its Facebook page experiencing a meteoric rise before the shop had even opened. “Emily, Lucy and Chloe do most of the Facebook and Instragram stuff, they know so many people because they all grew up here. All their friends shared the page and it just spread. I think we put ourselves on Facebook on the Tuesday and we thought, ‘Oh we will have 500 likes by Friday’. We had 2,000 likes over two weeks before we even opened. Social media is just insane.”

People are starting to realise that what you put in is what you get out. It’s all about food. You have only one body and one life, you might as well look after it.

The shop itself has been as successful as its Facebook page, with crowds of customers every lunchtime. Gill believes that people are welcoming an opportunity to make better choices with their diets. “Slow change has been coming in the last couple of years, and people are getting sick of unhealthy takeaways,” says Gill. “People are starting to realise that what you put in is what you get out. It’s all about food. You only have one body and one life, you might as well look after it.”

Welcome!Popular with their visitors, and adding to the “simple and natural” approach, is the lack of strange or pretentious names for their food. “Lots of people comment on us not having funny names! One person commented on the smoothies, making sure we had got all the ‘right’ colours.” For Gill, her favourite salad has gone from The Caesar to The Thai Beef, with the Green No.1 smoothie going down smoothly as a lunchtime dessert.

“We are also trying to do everything locally. All our products are from Riverlea, Davis Trading and Preston’s Master Butchers. We are local, we like to use local produce and have a sense of community. I think it’s quite nice to have that these days, it’s nice to have local involvement.”

Not a group to rest on their laurels, the ladies are already pondering the future. “We are looking into the possibilities of franchising, to see what’s involved and how to do it and that’s quite exciting. At the moment it is great for the girls, they are only twenty-two and having their own business and that experience is huge. If we can grow it that way that will be pretty cool.”

We had 2,000 likes over two weeks before we even opened. Social media is just insane.

Mount Maunganui, Wellington and Napier are at the top of their list for potential franchise locations, but there are a few ideas farther from home as well. “The Greek island, Santorini, we’d like to do! That would be the dream, to open up one in Santorini. North Carolina in America is another, one lady said she wanted one in America. But we will start with New Zealand!”

Stephen and Mary Barr

To your family, from ours

At a glance this family farm is no different from any other dairy farm, but Stephen and Mary Barr are making a name for Arran Farm thanks to their quirky new on-site milk shop.

The cows coming home to here are unique, and are a key part of the shop’s success. Most dairy farming cows carry the standard A1 gene, producing the ordinary A1 milk that is sold in stores. However, Arran Farm breeds rare A2 cattle, which produce milk that contains the purest form of milk protein and is found by some to assist in resolving or limiting allergic reactions such as eczema. This milk is then sold through their milk shop, as Stephen Barr says, “ready to drink the way nature intended”.

Fresh MilkStephen and Mary started out in Taranaki and farmed there for more than 15 years before they bought a Manawatu farm in 1998. Taking advantage of the opportunities found here, Arran Farm has grow from 150 acres to 1200 acres and the new milk shop is heralding a new era, with the farm becoming a centre of community activity.

The farm has become a community centre, with the onfarm milk shop’s self-service milk vending machine enabling consumers to fill up their milk bottles as they wish. The Barrs summarise the store’s creation as, “We saw a vending machine in a magazine a few months ago and just went for it”.

However, it was not easy putting the shop in place. A range of challenges arose to ensure they complied with legislation.

Arran Farm operates as a sole trader; Stephen and Mary had to be really careful in their planning, as they were not protected by a company structure. Although this was testing, the Barrs knew they were on to something. “We believe in the milk, we enjoy it and there is a market for it.”

We believe in the milk, we enjoy it and there is a market for it

Having now opened their doors, the Barrs are thrilled with their success. “When we were making the plans for the shop, we didn’t factor in that it is a fun place to come to, because people are actually choosing to come here for the experience,” Mary shares with a smile.

“Our customers refer to it as the village well and there is a whole community that is building around the shop. People of all ages come here: the elderly, families, young people and even concerned mothers who buy milk for their flatting children. It’s a very positive place that seems to make people happy.”

The community support is prevalent, with a wide range of customers frequenting the shop, with people travelling from Palmerston North, Foxton and Levin and even Wellington.

Vending MachineAs the milk cannot be legally transported without pasteurising it, the Barrs are unable to sell the milk away from the farm gate. However, being grounded has been nothing less than beneficial for the community and the farther reaches of the country. A gem has been created in this spot on Taonui Road, near Feilding.

The community cherishes the milk shop and it continues to motivate this family to bring their raw, non-homogenised milk to the people who have grown to love it. “People in the market are always asking, ‘Are you selling enough milk?’ ‘Are you getting enough people?’ They are willing to bring their friends and family to the shop to help ensure the business is sustainable.”

Stephen foresees the shop growing “to be an even bigger part of the farm once we get more customers.” For now, the Barrs are just focused on doing what they do best and to keep offering good milk from their family to yours.

Rebecca Algie at work in the Bridge Cafe

Attention to detail is heart of family business

Rebecca Algie loves diving off Wellington’s southern coast whenever she has the chance, but it was taking on the Bridge Café near the Manawatu Gorge that the former scuba instructor says she threw herself in the deep end.

Dog Parking“I never really imagined myself owning it,” she says. “But when my grandmother saw it as a great opportunity and pushed me to buy it, I thought ‘why don’t I just give it a go and see if it works?’”

Like her parents, Rebecca grew up in Balance, on the eastern side of the Manawatu Gorge, and after an OE that included18 months in the UK and a year in Australia, came back to be closer to them. She says her family is close-knit, and aside from one brother in Dunedin, her other relatives all live close.

The business side of operations was new to Rebecca, but has become the part she says she enjoys the most.

She has a keen eye for style and design, and the Bridge Café reflects this. Hessian coffee sacks adorn the walls, vintage artwork creates discussion and the small touches make the atmosphere cozy and unique.

Open for business after the Gorge slip“My hobby is going around cafes and getting ideas. I’m creative and decided to have a crack at it. I’m no different from anybody else though. Anyone could do this if they just applied themselves and wanted it enough.”

The café’s greatest challenge came in 2011, not long after Rebecca purchased the business, when the Manawatu Gorge was closed due to a major slip. In the ensuing months, it traded only during weekends before closing altogether until the Gorge reopened.

“We tried to keep going by trading in weekends, especially for the staff. But in the end it just wasn’t feasible,” she says. “We’ve been lucky to have such great support and to have opened again, re-establishing a place that, I think, is pretty special.”

Tea, good for the soulIn summer, Friday’s Pizza nights are a huge hit, with an outdoor, pizza oven the main attraction.

Rebecca is a foodie by nature, and while she has a strong influence on the menu, her Chef takes the reins and creates interesting, hearty dishes. The menu uses local produce and product wherever possible.

A quirky attention to detail that includes tea served in a vintage tea pot complete with a hand-knitted cozy, and Milk shakes served in a genuine glass milk bottle keeps locals and visitors drawn to a place close to Rebecca’s heart.