From seed to table: What you need to know about moving to a lifestyle block

  • 25/11/2020
  • Sponsored by - FMG
From seed to table: What you need to know about moving to a lifestyle block

While leaving the lights of the city and returning to the land might be an idyllic daydream for many, an increasing number of Kiwis are turning the fantasy into a reality.

According to lifestyle block sales have increased 15 percent since last year. For city-dwellers thinking of taking the plunge, it pays to listen to those who've been on the journey before.

FMG, NZ's leading rural insurer, has teamed up with celebrity Kiwi Chef Michael Van de Elzen to bring you a beginner's course in country living and, of course, cooking.

Michael left his Mt Albert home for a lifestyle block in Muriwai in 2015 with his family, driven by memories of his own rural upbringing. 

"I grew up on a farm, and I just ran loose. I had the whole farm at my disposal and I enjoyed adventures. Yes we worked very hard from a young age but it was a childhood I really cherished and I wanted that for my own kids."

But the move wasn't just for personal reasons, Michael sensing a professional opportunity outside of the city.

"I was working in a restaurant where I had to go out into the garden and get the produce to base the menu around that day. It was my first experience with real seed to table cooking. That planted the seed- mind the pun. I want to open somewhere on the land and I want the land to provide the food."

Now Michael has opened the 'Good from Scratch' cookery school, based on a growing from scratch philosophy, teaching people the joy which lifestyle block living can bring to your table.

"To be able to pluck a strawberry you've grown, cut it up and plate within two minutes of it being picked is an extraordinary thing," he says.

"People don't realise, broccoli that's just been freshly harvested, cut and cooked in that moment, there's a real taste difference. There's a freshness you get that's unlike anything else."

From seed to table: What you need to know about moving to a lifestyle block

While the benefits are plentiful, Michael says it's important to be clear-eyed about the challenges. For those considering the country move but still on the fence, he suggests taking it one step at a time.

"My advice would be to dabble initially. If you can, rent somewhere for a week so you know what it's like to commute long hours to work in rush hour. You know what it’s like to run out of milk at 10pm, and there's no shop to nip to just down the road."

But while there are difficulties, Michael says you won't be facing them alone. On your lifestyle block you might live further apart from the neighbours, but you'll end up feeling closer than ever.

"Everyone is in the same boat out here. So you have a real sense of community. When something breaks down, your neighbour is there to help you. When a cow runs through your fence, they're going to help you put that cow back in and repair that fence."

And once a hard day's yakka is done, Michael says the sense of satisfaction is unbeatable.

"It may come with challenges but it comes with beauty also. It gives you a sense of peace. There is always, always something to do on a lifestyle block. You're never finished. But at the end of a long day you can soak up the sights, the smells and the tranquility. It will be something you cherish."

If you're ready to get stuck into your own lifestyle block, head over to FMG for all the information you need to get started and the cover to ensure you're well looked after.

This article was created for FMG