Teacher in the Paddock – From Living Probiotics to Simply Soft Cheese



In her travels, Jane Powell from Papamoa’s Teacher in the Paddock has met people from all over the world and has learnt a lot about different cultures and foods. For ten years she lived in Spain amongst people who celebrated life and food, and where most things could wait until tomorrow – mañana. She immersed herself in this culture where food was so important and so much loved that it was always delicious, and above all, the children were fed and nurtured and everyone was vibrant.

Jane and husband Kevin have always had a passion for growing and preparing their own food, and Jane realised that one way to ease those ‘itchy feet’ travel pangs was to relive her experiences by teaching people how to be more aware of their lives through food, and how, through food we can create great resilient communities.

Living Probiotics from your Pantry

Jane’s workshop – Living Probiotics from your Pantry – teaches people how to make Kombucha, Water Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kvass, and cultured dairy foods such as Caspian Sea Yoghurt and Milk Kefir.

“These are all living foods that can be made at home, fermenting away in your pantry.” Cultured, or fermented, foods help to keep our bodies in a slightly alkaline state so we can maintain optimum health. They have been around for over 2000 years, and if you love them they will love you back, she says.

Classes usually run on a Saturday and are great for groups, and you get to taste what you make!

Fermented foods are gut builders

Our gut manages all the microbiology and the complex process of digestion. It is porous, just like our skin, enabling it to absorb nutrients from what we eat. Keeping it clean and healthy is therefore super important.

A healthy gut also equals a strong healthy immune system – 70% of the body’s immune defences are found in the gut. A lot of diets in the western world today lack the necessary composition of nutrients to maintain and keep gut flora healthy.

Cultured or fermented ‘living foods’ have over 400 beneficial probiotic bacteria that are crucial for gut health. These probiotics not only aid our immune system, they also help to lower inflammation caused by reactions to toxins in our environment and toxins in the food we eat.

Simply Soft Cheese

With two Jersey cows, Kevin has around 12 litres of milk to dispose of every day and a great way to do this is by making Mozzarella, Halloumi and Quark which are favourite household cheeses.

Feta is another favourite and the farm makes this with its own Kefir culture. This cheese takes 24 hours to make, is stored in brine and will last for months if refrigerated – if it hangs around for that long!

Kevin’s workshops teach people simple cheese-making methods, butter making and the ins and outs of dairying. “Most kitchens have the necessary equipment to make really good cheese. Families have often joined together and made enough Feta Cheese for a couple of months,” Kevin says.

Children love to be involved and stretching the Mozzarella is great fun. Children are always excited to learn that all they need is a jar, cream and a macadamia nut to make delicious butter, as well as lots of vigorous shaking!

Teacher in the Paddock is the initiative of Kevin and Jane Powel, who have opened their working farm to school groups to enjoy ‘rural’ learning experiences. The couple also run workshops for adults to learn simple ways to prepare healthy, probiotic foods.

Read our article Teacher in a Paddock – Life on a farm to learn more.

For more information about Teacher in the Paddock and workshops please visit: