A taste of home

South Canterbury farmer Frances Coles relishes sharing food grown, caught or raised by the family.

In Milking Platform4 Minutes

I’m just back from another fantastic summer holiday with the family in the Marlborough Sounds, and while there I had the opportunity to do something I struggle to find the time to at home – read a book or two!

One was Taste – My Life Through Food by actor Stanley Tucci (of The Devil Wears Prada and Hunger Games fame), an interesting mix of memoir and recipe book. From a large Italian family, food is pivotal to so many of Stanley’s memories, and he made one observation that really spoke to me…

“I am hardly saying anything new by stating that our links to what we eat have practically disappeared beneath sheets of plastic wrap. But what are also disappearing are the wonderful, vital human connections we’re able to make when we buy something we love to eat from someone who loves to sell it, who bought it from someone who loves to grow, catch or raise it. Whether we know it or not, great comfort is found in these relationships, and they are very much part of what solidifies a community.”

As a producer of food, I am well aware of the multitude of ways something to eat or drink can bind us together:

  • New to the neighbourhood/unwell/just had a baby/ recently bereaved? Here’s something I made for you…
  • It’s been ages since we caught up – how about a coffee at the café/barbecue this weekend?
  • What kind of cake do you want for your birthday party this year sweetheart?
  • Date night? Where shall we go for dinner this time?
  • What are your plans for Christmas this year? We’d love for you to join us for dinner.
  • Who feels like dessert? Let’s make chocolate self-saucing pudding with Grandma’s recipe.



Food is so often linked with key moments in our lives, and those meals are all the more meaningful when they’re shared with people who have grown, caught or raised then lovingly prepared the food for you. I feel great pride when someone compliments the steak or sausages at one of our barbecues, knowing it came from an animal we raised, or I receive compliments for a dish that I make.

Better yet, this Christmas Eve, the Mahinga Kai aspect of our Farm Environment Plan was elevated from simple compliance and good intention to genuine action when a friend and her children joined us to gather watercress from the stream which runs through the centre of our farm. She was planning on cooking a boil-up for her whanau that night, and my whanau was able to proudly showcase our farm while providing the key ingredient she needed – connection at its purest.

And in the spirit of connecting with all of you, here’s a little taste of summer as I know it…