“Growing my own food has been a dream I've had for a very long time. I finally have enough space to grow fruit and vegetables for my family."

Before we had children I worked as a chef for 12 years. Now I create recipes and have a recipe subscription service called The Modern Mess. I have been doing that for five years and I love it. I work from home. I write three new seasonal recipes each week and have over 900 to choose from on my website. Members can make meal plans and shopping lists or just browse and use the search bar to find a great recipe.  

Gardening and cooking go hand in hand, so having a big garden here in Amberley has helped a lot. We have a half-acre section. We are enjoying having a garden where we can grow what we want. We are also surrounded by lots of excellent produce and wine here in North Canterbury. I love to support local and use local produce. There are lots of great farmers markets and wineries out here, and I love a roadside stall too! North Canterbury also has its own food and beverage provenance brand – MADE NORTH CANTERBURY. I get to do lots with MADE NC, which I love. 

Jen's Chooks, Amberley
“I develop recipes using product that I've sourced locally. Luckily for me, we have an incredible range of food in North Canterbury.”

My husband Keeley works in Christchurch. When we moved here 14 months ago, we were looking for somewhere within 45 minutes’ drive, so Keeley could commute easily. We found this house in Amberley in a great spot with lots of potential for how we wanted to live. We wouldn’t have been able to afford this in Christchurch.  

We’re close to the beach and also the hills and country scenery. We definitely spend way more time outside, living here. It’s so quiet and peaceful and we do enjoy a good sunrise or sunset and a country dark sky. We like how North Canterbury is rural but not isolated and has an active community. 

Our children – Toren and Flynn – go to the local school and play on the street with other kids. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming here. All the neighbours share their extra produce with each another. You can also bike or walk most places if you want to.  

I thought we would spend more on fuel living out here, but we don’t go to town as much as we thought we would. We like how close it is to the city but also far enough away. Friends and family can easily visit and stop places on the way if they want. Hanmer Springs and Gore Bay are less than an hour away. Keeley loves spear fishing, so Kaikōura is great, and not too far. And here in Amberley we have Little Vintage for coffee, Brew Moon for dinner and a good beer, Pegasus Bay up the road for a platter and a garden wander and we also love the Amberley Farmers Market. 

 North Canterbury is a beautiful place to live and work, and the pace of life is really lovely. 

Jen's Kitchen, Amberley